Barnsley remained bottom of the Championship after their first league game of 2022 brought a 2-1 loss at Birmingham City.
The hosts took the lead late in the first half with their first shot on target after the visitors had come close on several occasions. They then doubled their lead early in the second half before Victor Adeboyejo replied late on.
Barnsley were better than in some recent matches, with some good individual performances, but ultimately conceded poor goals and again struggled to take their chances against a side who were 18th and winless in seven.
The Reds are now winless in nine league games since November 3 while head coach Poya Asbaghi has not won any of his first seven league games – the joint longest wait for a first victory of a Barnsley boss since the 1950s.
They are still eight points from safety with two games in hand on fourth-bottom Reading who also lost today.
Michal Helik was fit to play after injury but Callum Brittain, Josh Benson, Clarke Oduor and Remy Vita were unavailable after Covid-19 and injuries had restricted the Reds to just 14 players earlier in the week.
Three potential league debutants were on the bench with Jason Sraha, Cameron Thompson and Aiden Marsh, the 18-year-old from Monk Bretton.
The Reds played 4-2-3-1 with Victor Adeboyejo, Callum Styles and Carlton Morris the attacking midfielders from right to left behind lone striker Aaron Leya Iseka.
The hosts should have taken the lead in the second minute when Brad Collins dropped a cross by Onel Hernandez and former Barnsley loanee Gary Gardner's shot from the edge of the box looked destined for the net but Lukas Jutkiewicz chested it onto the bar then was flagged offside.
Styles – on his 100th game for the Reds – got the ball off Adeboyejo in the eighth minute and cut in from the right to hit a shot from the edge of the box in plenty of space which Neil Etheridge dived to his left to save well.
Styles then won the ball in the 15th minute just outside the home box and Adeboyejo turned on the right of the area then unleashed a powerful shot from 15 yards which was impressively touched over by Etheridge.
Birmingham's teenage midfielder Jordan James then missed two decent chances within a minute midway through the half. He headed across goal and wide eight yards out when unmarked from Ryan Woods' cross. Then Collins kicked a clearance straight to Jutkiewicz just outside the box and he passed to James to shoot over.
Barnsley then broke from a Birmingham corner and, after passes exchanged by Claudio Gomes and Iseka, Adeboyejo played Morris in on the left and his deflected 12-yard shot was blocked by the legs of Etheridge.
Jutkiewicz then headed over a long throw by former Barnsley captain Marc Roberts.
The opener arrived in the 35th minute when Jutkiewicz beat Andersen in the air from a long ball then it dropped to him in space to play Hernandez in behind the defence and the Cuban sprinted clear of Jordan Williams before beating Collins one-on-one. It was the hosts' first shot on target.
James' 25-yard shot was easily saved by Collins then the goalkeeper punched out a corner before catching a Kristian Pedersen header that was floating into his top left corner.
The hosts doubled their lead six minutes into the second half when Ryan Woods' left-wing corner was missed by Collins and hit Morris which left Scott Hogan with a simple tap-in.
Styles almost made it 2-1 but, under pressure from defenders six yards out, he shot wide of the bottom left corner after Gomes got the ball off Adeboyejo and burst past a defender into the box from the right before pulling the ball back.
Collins then easily saved a Jutkiewicz header before, at the other end, Helik sent a bicycle kick onto the post from 15 yards out after a free kick was punched out.
Adeboyejo pulled one back on 85 minutes, firing into the bottom left corner from 12 yards after a free-kick fell for him.
Cameron Thompson then came on for his league debut, replacing Styles who had picked up a knock.
Birmingham (4-4-2 diamond): Etheridge; Colin, Roberts, Mengi, Pedersen; Woods, Gardner (Friend 90+3), James (Sunjic 68mins), Hernandez; Jutkiewicz, Hogan. Unused: Trueman, Friend, Bela, Campbell, Bellingham, Sunjic, Graham.
Goals: Hernandez 35, Hogan 51.
Barnsley (4-2-3-1): Collins; J Williams, Helik, Andersen, Kitching; Palmer (Moon 76mins), Gomes; Adeboyejo, Styles (Thompson 89), Morris; Iseka (Cole 64).
Unused: Walton, Hondermarck, Sraha, Marsh.
Yellow cards: Moon.
Goals: Adeboyejo 85.
  • 3:02pm
    1 First minute sees an Iseka handball and Blues pump the free kick down field and get a long throw
  • 3:03pm
    2 Birmingham so close. Collins drops a Hernandez cross and the shot hits Jutkiewicz in the chest then there crossbar. He was given offside so if he hadn't touched it it probably would have been a goal
  • 3:04pm
    It was former Barnsley loanee Gary Gardner with that shot which hit the bar
  • 3:05pm
    Barnsley really got away with one there as it looked certain to go in
  • 3:07pm
    6 Barnsley starting to attack a little bit more as Kitching, the left back, finds himself on the right of the box and tries to win a corner but it comes off him last and goes out
  • 3:09pm
    8 Barnsley's first chance. Styles gets the ball off Victor, cuts in from the right into loads of space and shoots from just inside the box but Etheridge dives to his left to save well
  • 3:10pm
    An encouraging moment for the visitors, terrible defending by Birmingham who gave both Adeboyejo and Styles so much space with no pressure on them
  • 3:13pm
    Barnsley are playing the ball around pretty confidently, with their full-backs pushing forward. A bright start overall
  • 3:15pm
    Again a lot of space for Barnsley in attacking areas as Iseka gets the ball from Kitching's throw and can turn and cross from the left but it's headed out
  • 3:15pm
    15 Another chance for the Reds. Styles wins the ball just outside the home box and Adeboyejo turns on the right and shoots powerfully from 15 years but Etheridge tips it over.
  • 3:18pm
    Styles has been the best player on the pitch so far. He had a shot saved then set up that latest chance for Adeboyejo with good pressing
  • 3:18pm
    Barnsley have reacted well to that early scare, they are on top at the moment
  • 3:21pm
    20 Another chance for the hosts. Ryan Woods' cross picks out the unmarked Jordan James but he heads across goal and wide
  • 3:21pm
    21 Another chance for James. Collins kicks straight to Jutkiewicz who passes to the youngster but he curls over from the edge of the box
  • 3:25pm
    We've passed the midway point in the half. Birmingham have probably just edged it in terms of chances but Barnsley have had the only two shots on target while playing some decent football. A pretty good game overall
  • 3:27pm
    26 Birmingham corner on the left. Ryan Woods takes. It's cleared then Barnsley counter attack. They worked it all the way up the pitch, with Gomes and Iseka swapbg passes before Adeboyejo slips in Morris on the left of the box and his shot from 12 yards is blocked by Etheridge's legs
  • 3:30pm
    29 Jutkiewicz heads a Roberts long throw wide from just inside the box
  • 3:32pm
    31 Gomes' lofted ball into the box dropped by Etheridge who then slighted pushes Iseka and he gathers. No penalty, would have been harsh. Iseka gets treatment on the ground then limps off
  • 3:33pm
    Iseka back on
  • 3:34pm
    Onel Hernandez opens the scoring
  • 3:36pm
    Just a case of Barnsley players losing individual battles. Jutkiewicz beats Andersen in the air then has plenty of space to pass through to Hernandez who sprints away from Jordan Williams and beats Collins one-on-one.
  • 3:38pm
    38 Another chances for James after a free-kick is headed out to him but his low 25-yard effort is saved gathered by Collins
  • 3:39pm
    That goal is a hammer blow for the Reds who had had all three previous shots on target and played well
  • 3:40pm
    40 Styles tries to play a left sided corner low into the box but no one is there to receive it and it is eventually cleared
  • 3:42pm
    42 Jutkiewicz catches Helik with a high foot after the defender dawdles in defence and it almost caught
  • 3:43pm
    43 Morris wins a free-kick on the left for a shirt pull by Mengi
  • 3:43pm
    43 Styles' left wing free-kick is cleared
  • 3:45pm
    45 Woods free-kick is headed behind by Helik for a corner on the left
  • 3:46pm
    45 Left wing corner from Woods is punched out by Colins then Pedersen heads and Collins catches when to was floating into the top left corner
  • 3:46pm
    Two added minutes in this half
  • 3:48pm
    HALF-TIME: Birmingham 1, Barnsley 0. The Reds had the first three shots on target but conceded in the 35th minute.
  • 4:04pm
  • 4:06pm
    Attendance: 15,742 (605 away fans)
  • 4:06pm
    The away crowds are getting smaller and smaller, for obvious reasons
  • 4:09pm
    50 Dangerman Hernandez runs down the left and wins a corner
  • 4:09pm
    51 Woods' left-wing corner is dropped by Collins and kicked in by Lukas Jutkiewicz
  • 4:12pm
    Oh dear. Collins player of the year by miles but he has got away with a couple of errors already today and totally misses this corner. It hits Morris and falls kindly for the striker to net. A mountain to climb etc
  • 4:12pm
    Very difficult to see Barnsley getting anything from this game now. That was a total sucker punch
  • 4:14pm
    The ball breaks kindly for Iseka to go through on goal and he miscontols and loses it.
  • 4:16pm
    57 Chances for the Reds. Adeboyejo – who has been their best player – finds Gomes on the left and he brilliantly darts into the box then pulls it back to Styles who, under pressure six yards out, fires wide of the bottom left corner
  • 4:18pm
    60 Woods' corner on the left this time is caught by Collins on the line
  • 4:20pm
    62 Another Woods corner on the left. This time it's headed out but Gomes then trips Hernandez and the hosts have a free-kick 25 yards out
  • 4:21pm
    63 Woods' cross from the left is headed by Jutkiewicz but easily caught by Collins
  • 4:22pm
    63 Now Kitching smashes over a 25 yard shot
  • 4:22pm
    Barnsley's first change sees Iseka replaced by Cole
  • 4:24pm
    Some chants coming from the away end. 'We want Conway out' and 'we want our Barnsley back.'
  • 4:28pm
    Midway through the second half. The Reds are still fighting, with Gomes, Victor and Styles all playing particularly well. But it feels a huge ask to get back into this game and the hosts look capable of more goals.
  • 4:28pm
    Birmingham bring on £7million Ivan Sunjic for Jordan James
  • 4:33pm
    Approaching the final 15 minutes. Barnsley having plenty of the ball now but not really threatening. Cole wins the ball in the box but Styles' shot is blocked
  • 4:34pm
    Romal Palmer replaced by Jasper Moon
  • 4:37pm
    78 Helik hits the post. A Styles free-kick is a punched out by the goalkeeper and the Poland centre-back's overhead kick from 15 yards loops towards the empty net but hits the right post
  • 4:39pm
    Break as Marc Roberts receives treatment
  • 4:42pm
    Birmingham replace Hernandez with Jeremie Bela
  • 4:43pm
    Approaching the last five minutes. This has not been Barnsley's worst display but it's felt like a pretty routine win for the hosts who were winless in seven
  • 4:43pm
    Barnsley have found it increasingly hard to pass to each other or keep the ball in attacking areas as the match has gone on.
  • 4:45pm
    Victor Adeboyejo pulls one back!
  • 4:48pm
    He's deserved that goal after a good performance. He fires into the bottom left corner from about 15 yards after a scramble in the box. Game on?
  • 4:49pm
    Cameron Thompson on for his league debut. Styles looked like he'd picked up a knock
  • 4:49pm
    Seven added minutes...
  • 4:52pm
    Nervous moments here. Birmingham winless in seven looking to hold on
  • 4:53pm
    Jasper Moon booked for smashing into Gardner in the air
  • 4:56pm
    Cole drives down the left and wants a corner but a goal kick is given and that looks to be game over
  • 4:57pm
    FULL-TIME: Birmingham 2, Barnsley 1. The Reds remain bottom of the Championship