Some of the most damaging games in Barnsley's relegation season.
REDS 0, MILLWALL 1. OCTOBER 2
The Reds had made a slow but not disastrous start – no worse than the previous two seasons – as they collected eight points from eight games with up to ten players out through injury.
But – other than a fantastic first half at QPR before they lost a 2-0 lead – performances had not convinced.
They then began to lose, a lot, and this was a third defeat of the week after they went down at Blackpool then at home to Nottingham Forest.
After Murray Wallace headed in the 89th-minute winner, fans chanted against Markus Schopp then Callum Brittain criticised him in his post-match interview, suggesting they did not work on attacking plans in training.
All evidence now suggests that Schopp’s training, tactics and leadership were nowhere near good enough, so he should have been relieved of his duties earlier – or ideally not employed at all.
This was a good chance to make a change as the Reds had sunk into the relegation zone – which they would never get out of – and were about to enter a two-week international break.
Instead he stayed for another month, losing four more games and making the task for his successor even harder.
The reverse fixture at Millwall this month was also embarrassing – a 4-1 loss and arguably the worst performance of the season.
But the damage was done by then.
REDS 0, HULL 2. NOVEMBER 6
Schopp had been sacked on Sunday October 31, after a seventh straight defeat at Bristol City, and ahead of the Reds’ games against the other sides in the relegation zone.
Jo Laumann took over as caretaker and oversaw a 2-1 midweek win over Derby, with a fortunate deflected equaliser and some late goalmouth scrambles survived. It could have been a turning point but his team were awful against the Tigers who were then the lowest scorers in English football, had not netted away in three months, and had lost their last five. They should have won by far more.
Hull boss Grant McCann would return to win with Peterborough on Easter Monday, the game that seemed to finally shatter any illusions of a great escape.
REDS 5, BARROW 4. JANUARY 8
It may seem strange to include a cup win in this list but, after this extraordinary match, it was very hard to imagine the Reds staying up.
They were 2-0 ahead at half-time against a side battling relegation to non-league football who had not scored in their previous five away games, and had had a player sent off.
But Barnsley still contrived to lose the lead three times and would probably have lost the tie if a clear handball by Liam Kitching had been awarded as a penalty at the end of normal time.
Asbaghi had introduced a very defensive approach, with three draws, three losses and three goals in his six Championship matches before this.
He was without about ten players due to Covid-19 and injuries.
Watching him silent and motionless on the touchline as his players trudged miserably back to kick off after each goal, totally unable to stop the Bluebirds running riot, the Reds looked a broken club. The way he and his players struggled against one of the worst sides in English professional football, with ten men, left major doubts as to whether they could get the roughly ten Championship wins needed to stay up.
Since then, Barrow have scored nine goals in 11 League Two away games.
They have just avoided relegation.
LUTON 2, REDS 1. FEBRUARY 8
This was a sixth straight league loss for the second time this season and confirmed an unwanted record for Poya Asbaghi whose 11-game wait for a first league win was the longest by any Barnsley manager ever.
The Reds, still without a host of players due to injury, had lost at Blackburn, Birmingham and Nottingham Forest – a particularly harrowing 3-0 defeat with Asbaghi isolating due to Covid. They then suffered 1-0 defeats at home to Bournemouth and Cardiff in the league and at Huddersfield in the cup, with injury-time levellers wrongly ruled out in the most recent two.
Luton dominated the first half but conceded a fine equaliser to Carlton Morris at the end of it. Brad Collins, during a rare spell of regular errors, conceded a penalty then lost his temper and delayed the taking of it, with the Reds later fined.
The spot-kick was scored in a second half which, continuing a theme in early 2022, Barnsley barely attacked with their season on the line. Asbaghi was asked afterwards if he would resign but vowed to fight on, with three wins from the next four games briefly providing some hope, but ultimately this losing run finished Barnsley off.
DERBY 2, REDS 0. MARCH 5
The Reds had rekindled some belief in a great escape with wins over QPR, Middlesbrough and Hull, so looked to make it four out of five at their fellow strugglers. But they were poor from the start against their pumped-up hosts and deservedly lost. That appeared to kill the Reds’ momentum and, although they beat Bristol City the following week and came within late levellers of a series of other wins, this was the start of a run of one win in ten which officially sealed their fall into League One.
REDS 1, READING 1. APRIL 2
The Reds were drinking in the last chance saloon but forgot to bring their wallet.
Victory over the fourth-bottom Royals would have left Barnsley just two points behind them.
They had a full international break to prepare for this match – more time on the training pitch than Poya had ever had with them – and were given the perfect start when Morris scored in the fifth minute.
But, from then on, they did not have a shot on target or barely an attack as they dropped deeper and deeper – eventually conceding in the 81st minute. Callum Brittain nearly won it in the 95th but the draw and performance seemed to suck a lot of belief out of the side – especially after Reading beat Stoke City the following midweek to increase the gap to eight points.