Doug O'Kane looks back at last Barnsley's 3-1 victory at Wycombe Wanderers last night.
BARNSLEY EQUAL CLUB RECORD FOR AWAY WINS
Barnsley recorded a fifth straight away win for the first time since 1955 in Division Three North.
This run has seen them travel almost 2,000 miles to win at two of the promotion favourites in Brentford and Bournemouth, two clubs where they traditionally have terrible records in Bristol City and QPR, and now on a tough assignment at an awkward Wycombe team.
They have won nine away games in a second tier season which is also a club record, joint with Paul Heckingbottom’s 2016/17 side and Dave Bassett’s 1999/2000 play-off finalists – a team this current Barnsley side will look to better in what could be an amazing next two months.
The Reds are no longer gatecrashers in the top six but are making themselves at home, getting comfortable and even possibly eyeing up their next move into the top two, with the eight-point gap to Watford daunting but not unbridgeable given the various miracles Barnsley have accomplished in the last year.
WYCOMBE OFFICIAL LOSES COOL AFTER WOODROW CELEBRATION
Pete Couhig, the nephew of the Wycombe owner and their chief financial officer, launched an extraordinary and foul-mouthed tirade in the stands after the Reds went 2-0 up early in the second half.
He walked out of the ground while shouting insults and swear words – past the nonplussed Barnsley substitutes who just gaped at him – then returned to offer more profanities from behind the dugouts, seemingly directed at Cauley Woodrow.
Much of the content of his expletive-laden rant is not appropriate for a family newspaper, and radio commentators had to apologise on air as he was so loud. But he was clearly furious with Woodrow for poking his bottom towards the corner flag when celebrating the disputed penalty that opened the scoring.
It is understood to be an in-joke between the Barnsley players and not meant as an insult to Wycombe.
It is possibly the first time in the history of football that the phrase ‘he took a s***’ on the corner flag’ has been repeated for several minutes by a club’s chief financial officer. Valerien Ismael seemed to be referring to Couhig when he branded some of Wycombe’s behaviour ‘embarrassing’.
The Reds boss was correct that the referee Darren Bond had lost control of the game at that point as the ridiculous sideline histrionics should have been stopped by the officials, although it clearly reflects worst on the home club.
Bond was also the referee who booked eight Barnsley players on a strange night at West Brom last season and missed a clear handball by Brentford’s Vitaly Janelt at Oakwell in November.
Couhig’s behaviour – as his side played a team who have more points in their last ten games than Wycombe have collected ever in the Championship – was an utterly bizarre spectacle.
MOWATT RED CARD COULD HURT THEM
It is not surprising, in such an environment and such a scrappy game, that someone might make a misjudgment and go into a tackle they should not have made. Whether that is what Alex Mowatt did split opinion at Adams Park on the night and also in the Reds fanbase.
The Barnsley captain’s challenge on Scott Kashket was hardly a forceful, studs-up lunge and the red card did seem harsh but, under the current rules, any time you leave the ground in a tackle you run the risk of being sent off for ’serious foul play.’
Some will question why he made such a risky challenge in a non-dangerous area at 2-0 up, but he is a naturally combative player.
Perhaps he should have stayed on his feet but it seems harsh to criticise someone without whom the Reds would not be in the Championship let alone the top five.
The red card could potentially rob Barnsley of their talismanic captain for three crucial matches as they look to consolidate in the top six and even threaten second place. The referee’s decision left head coach Valerien Ismael very frustrated in his post-match interview despite the win.
If Mowatt is banned, Barnsley will once again have to find strength from their squad with the likes of Romal Palmer and Herbie Kane having to step up.
WOODROW AND DIKE KEEP THE GOALS COMING
Daryl Dike scored the second and third goals – on the same day that he was named in the USA national squad – to continue his remarkable start to life in English football.
It meant Dike bagged a brace to complete a wonderful day for him personally.
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth said afterwards that he had tried to bring him to Wycombe but missed out. The 20-year-old, who won nine headers against a towering home defence, looks an astonishing find for the Reds and joined equally impressive fellow January recruit Carlton Morris on five goals for the club.
He showed bravery to win the header for his first goal then good finishing ability for the second, with Mads Andersen and Callum Brittain recording their fifth and fourth assists of the season respectively.
The first goal was a penalty by Cauley Woodrow who now has 13 this season and 47 for the club after once again showing he is ruthless from the spot with a shot that damaged the club’s GoPro camera.
The penalty was awarded when Michal Helik was pulled back in the box by Ryan Tafazolli on the stroke of half-time.
Woodrow made it three successful penalties in three games against Wycombe. The Chairboys were furious but there did appear to be a pull on Helik, who was not given a penalty for a similar incident at Nottingham Forest in January.
The hosts thought they should have had an earlier spot-kick for a foul on Curtis Thompson by Woodrow. But they have been lucky with penalties in this fixture previously, being awarded spot-kicks that were for tackles outside the box by Ethan Pinnock and Aapo Halme on their last two trips to Oakwell.
REDS’ EXTRA QUALITY WINS UGLY GAME
This was a meeting of the two sides with the lowest pass completion rates in the Championship this season and the highest number of ‘inaccurate long balls’ while they are both in top six for winning aerial battles.
Wycombe made slightly more touches and passes than their opponents which is very unusual for them, but Barnsley had the quality and the clinical finishing which is all that mattered.
After an ugly first 15 minutes, the visitors began to play better football – passing the ball around well, getting their wing-backs involved and stretching the Championship’s bottom side who did not have the ability to keep them out.
Wycombe had blocked the most crosses in the division this season but could not stop some fine deliveries which led to Reds goals. The third goal was particularly good to watch while it also came at a crucial time to stop any potential Wycombe comeback following the red card.