Verdict – Barnsley 2 Derby County 2: Cauley Woodrow nets at Oakwell as youthful Tykes make a point

Barnsley defender Aapo Halme celebrates his goal. Picture: Keith Turner
Barnsley defender Aapo Halme celebrates his goal. Picture: Keith Turner
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ALAN HANSEN’S infamous ‘You cannot win anything with kids” statement in August 1995 will forever haunt the former Liverpool captain and Match of the Day pundit.

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An eight-match winless league sequence exposing Barnsley’s lack of game management had left Oakwell co-chairman Paul Conway’s eve-of-season announcement that the Reds could look back on their ‘best transfer window ever’ increasingly open to rebuke ahead of kick-off.

The Scot was spectacularly proved wrong in his assertion that Manchester United’s fresh-faced crop of 1995-96 – who came to be known as ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ – would falter following the sale of key players.

Speak to many Barnsley supporters and recent evidence would have seen them perhaps arrive at the same early-season conclusion as Hansen regarding their own side’s prospects in 2019-20 – more especially given their absence of defensive seniority.

Even if they would naturally be delighted to consume a fair-sized portion of humble pie if it meant that the club’s youthful and rookie squad achieve their declared aim of Championship survival come next May.

An eight-match winless league sequence exposing Barnsley’s lack of game management had left Oakwell co-chairman Paul Conway’s eve-of-season announcement that the Reds could look back on their ‘best transfer window ever’ increasingly open to rebuke ahead of kick-off.

Manchester United may have had kids. But they also had an experienced spine in the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister.

Barnsley, by contrast, have only more of the same. And rookie defenders who are thoroughly untried and untested at second-tier level.

Last night, it was manifested in an appalling lack of defensive communication on two occasions in nine first-half minutes ahead of the break which yielded two gifts for Derby County, who had trailed after Aapo Halme’s first goal in Barnsley colours.

Given that the hosts had been full value for their 13th-minute lead, it was all the more painful.

But youth persisted – and the hosts got their rewards deep in stoppage time with Cauley Woodrow getting a vital touch to turn Conor Chaplin’s low drive into the net.

The home faithful needed a bit of tangible hope after three successive defeats and here a spot was at least provided alongside the familiar lessons.

Derby’s leveller was cheap with some ‘after-you-sir’ hesistant defending allowing Chris Martin – the sort of centre forward who does not ask questions – to nip in and gleefully tuck away his seventh league goal at Barnsley’s expense in his long career as the hosts prevaricated.

The visitors’ second before the interval was, if anything, an even more calamitous moment, with Jacob Brown and Mads Andersen inexplicably failing to clear, with matters compounded by the sight of a panicking Andersen bundling into the back of Tom Lawrence for the most obvious of penalties.

A surprise starter after not being involved at the weekend after being arrested and charged with drink-driving last week, Lawrence briefly silenced the Oakwell jeers, although it proved only a limited respite. Following the penalty award, Tom Huddlestone, like Martin, is not the sort of seasoned professional to pass up charity, even if his night was curtailed after he injured himself in converting from 12 yards.

For the hosts, the early evidence had been hugely encouraging, with the sight of a voracious, revved-up home side clearly intent on making up for Sunday’s deflating home reverse to Brentford being a big tick as was the maintaining of a stirring tempo for most of the first half. Sadly, old habits die hard and the Barnsley back four proceeded to obliterate an otherwise uplifting half with two awful concessions.

The night had promised plenty for Barnsley, who set about Derby with visible gusto and displayed a great deal of character in the opening 35 minutes.

A wasteful early miss from Woodrow, whose point-blank header hit the outside of the post following a tidy cross from Mike Bahre, could have been a significant development, but the hosts commendably shrugged aside that moment to soon lead.

Set-plays posed problems for the Rams in the first period, none moreso when Halme’s bullet header flew past Roos following Alex Mowatt’s excellent delivery.

Roos was then called upon to turn away a stinging drive from Chaplin before the unmarked Curtis Davies headed wide at the other end.

After two wholly charitable and careless concessions, Barnsley attempted to dust themselves down as best they could after the break with Bahre testing the reactions of Roos after a slick home move. Daniel Stendel’s side persisted, but all the while, the worry was at the other end. Derby went close when Martyn Waghorn’s free-kick was turned away in the nick of time by Brad Collins.

Admirably, Barnsley remained on the front foot with Jayden Bogle hacking off the line to deny ex-Derby player Luke Thomas following a goalmouth scramble, while Roos tipped over Mowatt’s free-kick.

It was the prelude to Woodrow diverting Chaplin’s drive into the net to dramatically restore parity – the final act of a chaotic night.

Barnsley: Collins; J Williams (Thomas 68), Andersen (Styles 76), Halme, B Williams; Sibbick, Mowatt; Brown (Wilks 76), Chaplin, Bahre; Woodrow. Substitutes unused: Walton, Green, Schmidt, Pinillos.

Derby County: Roos, Bogle, Bielik, Davies, Lowe; Huddlestone (Clarke 90), Holmes (Bennett 89), Paterson, Lawrence; Waghorn, Martin (Knight 79). Substitutes unused: Hamer, Malone, Dowell, Jozefzoon.

Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).