Barnsley began their League One season, and Michael Duff’s reign as head coach, with a 1-0 loss at Plymouth Argyle.

The hosts took the lead just before half-time and created the better chances throughout, but the Reds hit the bar at 0-0 and then were denied what looked a clean penalty in the second half.

The visitors will be disappointed with elements of their performance, as they struggled to control the game while often looking vulnerable at the back against a side who finished seventh last season with 80 points.

Callum Styles started, despite being expected to be sold this summer, as did new signings Luca Connell, Nicky Cadden and Robbie Cundy as well as Jack Aitchison who made his debut two years after joining the club.

The hosts should have taken the lead in the ninth minute when, after a scramble in the box following Finn Azaz’s right-wing free-kick, Joe Edwards rattled the crossbar from six yards out. Adam Randell then shot wide from just outside the box after Brad Collins punched away a corner.

Plymouth missed another big chance after half an hour when Josh Benson lost the ball and Danny Mayor played Azaz clean through but Collins made an impressive one-on-one block.

Barnsley, who had defended for most of the first 35 minutes, should have taken the lead with their first chance. Cadden’s fine left-wing cross was volleyed onto the bar by Aitchison six yards out then Benson looked certain to score the rebound but shot against Macauley Gillesphey.

Plymouth then had a flurry of chances. Jordan Williams brilliantly blocked in the box from Edwards after a slaloming run, then Mayor fell to the ground while shooting following contact from Andersen but the weak shot was saved and no penalty given, before Cundy misjudged a long ball but got back to tackle Ryan Hardie who was clean through.

The goal came just before the break when Bali Mumba’s low cross was slammed home just inside the box by Azaz into the top right corner.

Cundy was taken off after a difficult first half and replaced by another debutant Conor McCarthy.

Barnsley were better at the start of the second half, with Mads Andersen heading a Connell corner wide.

Aitchison then went clean through and was denied by one-on-one by Michael Cooper. Defender Dan Scarr clearly pushed Aitchison in the back as he shot and Barnsley wanted a penalty.

Edwards missed two big chances for 2-0, scooping over eight yards out after a fine run on the left and cross by Mumba, then firing high from slightly further out after Mayor crossed from the left.

Duff brought off Benson and Cole for Luke Thomas and debutant James Norwood, who headed wide from a left-wing Connell free-kick.

Mumba, who tormented Williams often, beat the right wing-back in the box then saw an effort from a tight angle turned behind by Collins, who also caught a later effort by home substitute Morgan Whittaker.

Barnsley applied pressure towards the end and almost levelled when Cadden’s corner was turned towards goal but the ball appeared to one hooked off the line.

Barnsley (3-5-2): Collins: Andersen, Cundy (McCarthy HT), Kitching; Williams, Benson (Thomas 61mins), Connell (Wolfe 77), Styles, Cadden; Aitchison (Marsh 72), Cole (Norwood 61)

Unused: Walton, Moon, Wolfe.

Yellow cards: Cadden, Styles.

Plymouth (3-4-2-1): Cooper; Wilson, Scarr, Gillesphey; Edwards Randell, Butcher, Mumba; Mayor, Azaz (Ennis 77); Hardie (Whittaker 77).

Unused: Burton, Ennis, Whittaker, Lonwijk, Galloway, Jephcott, Endacott.

Goals: Azaz 45. AS IT HAPPENED
  • 3:02pm
    Barnsley go forward in the first minute. Styles to Cadden but his cross is blocked for a thrown and eventually Plymouth get the ball back
  • 3:04pm
    Very noisy in here. The home fans making plenty of noise but I can hear the roughly 900 Barnsley fans too
  • 3:05pm
    5 Plymouth free-kick on the right. It's scuffed, blocked by Connell then cleared by Cole. Plymouth then put another cross in which Collins catches
  • 3:07pm
    Plymouth playing a 3-4-2-1 formation today. Barnsley will have to watch out. for the two attacking midfielders and the wiseman who are essentially wing-backs but playing pretty high at the moment
  • 3:08pm
    8 Poor header by Cundy and a Plymouth player is almost through but Kitching cuts it out
  • 3:09pm
    9 Plymouth free-kick on the right. Leads to a scramble in the box withJoie Edwards smashing a shot off the bar
  • 3:11pm
    Nicky Cadden booked for a foul on Bali Mumba
  • 3:11pm
    That was a big chance for Plymouth. Edwards was unmarked at the back post from the free-kick, got a touch on it the first time and it bounced back to him about six yards out and he smashed it off the bar
  • 3:13pm
    12 Half chance for the Reds. Cross by Cadden falls to Cole about ten yards out but first he then Aitchison cannot get shots away in a bit of a scramble
  • 3:16pm
    15 minutes in. Plymouth have shaded it so far, hitting the bar and being the more dangerous overall
  • 3:20pm
    Plymouth have had most of the ball so far. The Reds could do with a spell of possession to get them up the pitch because they are relying on long balls at the moment which isn't really working
  • 3:24pm
    A quarter of the way through this game. Plymouth have had about two thirds possession and all 4 shots, one of which hit the bar. Barnsley look pretty organised at the back but haven't offered much going forward. They need to settle and get on the ball, long balls forward aren't working. 0-0
  • 3:25pm
    A moment ago Aitchison was released down the right and crossed low into the box but it was cleared. None of the midfielders were able to get up in support
  • 3:26pm
    25 Plymouth corner on the right. Taken short and crossed, punched clear by Collins to Adam Randell whose 22-yard volley goes well wide of the bottom left corner
  • 3:29pm
    27 Ryan Hardie put through by Azaz but the linesman puts his flag up
  • 3:30pm
    Big, big chance for the hosts. Josh Benson loses the ball in his half, Danny Mayor plays in Finn Azaz and Collins makes a fine one-on-one block
  • 3:31pm
    That was very sloppy, first Williams looked clumsy on the ball and fired a pass to Benson who took a poor touch and lost it.
  • 3:34pm
    Wow. How have Barnsley not scored? Cadden\'s fine cross from the left is met by Aitchison six yards out and he volleys it off the underside of the bar. Benson looks certain to score the rebound but it is blocked by a defender. 0-0
  • 3:35pm
    Much better from the Reds though. Their first real chance
  • 3:35pm
    35 Connell corner on the right is headed out and cleared
  • 3:42pm
    Danny Mayor cuts into the box from the left past defender, who makes contact with him and he falls back while shooting. The effort is weak and easily saved by Collins. The hosts want a penalty but don't get one.
  • 3:42pm
    Robbie Cundy misjudges a long ball and Hardie goes clean through but Cundy gets back to make a good tackle
  • 3:44pm
    Callum Styles booked for a foul in the Plymouth half
  • 3:45pm
    Finn Azaz opens the. scoring with a powerful shot into the top right corner from just inside the box
  • 4:03pm
    Cundy replaced by McCarthy at the break
  • 4:03pm
  • 4:07pm
    49 Williams wins the ball on the right then. wins a corner
  • 4:08pm
    49 Connell's right-wing corner is headed wide at the back post by Andersen. A tough chance
  • 4:10pm
    Cadden, who has probably been the Reds best lawyer, beats a man on the left and looks to have his shirt pulled but the referee runs against him.
  • 4:12pm
    Aitchison is put clean through and Cooper makes a fine one-on-one save. Dan Scarr pushed Aitchison. in the back as he shot. That looked a clear foul to me and the Reds players were furious
  • 4:17pm
    59 Good chance for Plymouth. Bali Mumba beats Williams on the left and crosses for Edwards who scoops out over when he should have scored eight yards out
  • 4:20pm
    Norwood and Thomas replace Cole and Benson
  • 4:20pm
    62 Another massive chance for Edwards. He smashes over the bar about ten yards out after a cross by Mayor from the left
  • 4:23pm
    65 Connell free-kick from the left headed wide by Norwood. Tough chance ab out 15 yards out, glances it wide of bottom right corner
  • 4:27pm
    70 Bali Mumba is causing Williams a lot of problems, he twists and turns past him ion the box and his effort from a very tight angle is turned behind by Collins
  • 4:34pm
    Into the last 15 minutes, Barnsley. have ridden their luck but look more threatening with Norwood and Thomas on the pitch. Can they find a winner?
  • 4:36pm
    Barnsley's fifth and final change sees Wolfe come on for Connell
  • 4:39pm
    Thomas down with a knock but looks like he will carry on
  • 4:41pm
    Home substitute Morgan Whittaker cuts in from the left wing and shoots from. 15 yards but Collins catches easily
  • 4:44pm
    Thomas released on the left by good work from Thomas but his cross is cut out. Then Wolfe cleverly passes back to Kitching whose cross is high and too powerful
  • 4:45pm
    Barnsley having a decent spell here, they are definitely in with a chance of levelling if they can keep their composure when opportunities come along
  • 4:47pm
    Williams swaps passes with Norwood and bursts into the box but his shot is blocked
  • 4:49pm
    Five added minutes
  • 4:49pm
    Thomas wins a corner on the. right
  • 4:49pm
    90+2 Cadden's corner headed out for another
  • 4:51pm
    90+2 Cadden's. corner is turned towards his own goal by a defender but looked to be just hooked off the line
  • 4:54pm
    FULL-TIME: Plymouth 1, Barnsley 0.