EARLY MISSES COST DOMINANT REDS
Despite having 23 shots and 11 corners - from just 37 per cent possession - Barnsley did not score until 2-0 down in the 90th minute when Romal Palmer got his first professional goal.
The Reds had netted 13 in eight games but have not struck in their last two, although this game was very different to the Brentford match in which they had just two shots.
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray - who has now managed against no club more than Barnsley - called the Reds’ front three a ‘pressing machine’ after seeing his sloppy side regularly give the ball away under pressure. But the visitors could not make it count with Herbie Kane later saying they had ‘no conviction’ in their shots. Conor Chaplin had two chances in the box in the first 25 minutes but fired one wide, via a deflection, and another straight at the goalkeeper. Cauley Woodrow headed a good chance wide early on then volleyed over from a Kane long throw early in the second half. Mads Andersen also headed too high from an early corner, the first of a hat-trick of chances for the Dane.
Valerien Ismael said his side lacked a ‘killer mentality’ and pointed out that, at this level, you usually get punished for such profligacy.
MADS FEW MINUTES GIVE HOSTS LEAD
Mads Andersen has been excellent this season, dominating in the air, keeping forwards in check and often playing out nicely from the back.
But, from 43 to 45 minutes of this game, he was more like the 2019/20 pre-lockdown version of the Danish defender who made regular errors.
After allowing the ball to roll past him to Ben Brereton to set up a chance for Adam Armstrong, he misjudged a high pass into the box and let Ryan Nyambe do the same seconds later.
You cannot give a man who had 12 goals in 12 games in the Championship this season two superb chances within as many minutes and Armstrong duly made it 13 in 13 with the second opportunity after Jack Walton saved the first.
Andersen also gifted Blackburn the opener last season but that was a campaign in which he cost the Reds points on a monthly if not weekly basis, whereas now he is one of their better players who just had a bad few minutes.
Ismael said it was a ‘big mistake’ for the opener.
Andersen almost made amends on 63 minutes but his header from a Kane corner was brilliantly clawed out by Thomas Kaminski. The Dane got good power in the header but did not direct it quite into the top left corner.
He also headed over early on then wide from the edge of the box in the fifth minute of injury-time.
EX-REDS HAUNT THEM AGAIN
Armstrong followed Brentford’s Ivan Toney in being a former Reds loanee who scored against them within four days.
The duo netted eight times in 55 games for Barnsley but have 25 between them this season and are the two top-scorers in the Championship.
They both came to Oakwell as raw teenagers on loan from Newcastle but have now developed into high-quality players.
What is more worrying is that both goals were avoidable and defensive errors are starting creep back into a side who had kept 15 clean sheets in 29 matches.
KANE AND BRITTAIN IMPRESS
Kane made his first start for the club in place of Matty James and made the most passes, touches and tackles of any Barnsley player while six ‘key passes’ created chances for team-mates.
He even took some long throws as he bombarded the home box in different ways while he intercepted loose passes.
It was an impressive full debut after seven substitute appearances.
Also catching the eye were the wing-backs. Callum Styles created several chances early on from open play and set pieces.
Callum Brittain’s footwork and dribbling were sensational at times as he motored up and down the right wing, as well as occasionally through the centre. He could have made the breakthrough if he had a bit more composure in two key second half moments. He was found on the right of the six yard box by a wonderful Kane pass but only made weak contact with the ball when trying to find Woodrow, then beat three men on a wonderful run but shot over from 20 yards when he could have passed to Victor Adeboyejo who was free on his left.
SUBSTITUTES CONTINUE TO MAKE IMPACT
Adeboyejo is a man transformed under Valerien Ismael, proving a real nuisance whenever he comes off the bench.
Having scored at Derby, he helped to create the opening goal against Nottingham Forest and should have won a penalty against Brentford. In Blackburn, his run from a fine Brittain pass led to a goal for fellow replacement Romal Palmer who scored for the first time in his career.
Palmer will be hoping, after his last season was ended with injury against Blackburn, that this campaign is kickstarted by a goal against the same opposition.
Ismael also brought on Clarke Oduor, beaten for the second goal, George Miller - a striker brought in from the cold like Adeboyejo - and Dominik Frieser.
The Austrian - dropped for Luke Thomas - almost netted but Kaminski made one of several good saves.
The head coach is working well with the young players who had limited opportunities before he arrived, and making sure he has players who can come on and make an impact.