Analysis from Barnsley's 2-2 draw at Ipswich Town in which they came from behind twice to earn their first point of the season.
FIRST AWAY POINT COULD BE HARDEST EARNED
THIS was Barnsley’s first away point of the season and it feels highly unlikely that they will work harder for another throughout this campaign.
The Reds had been beaten in 16 of their previous 19 away league games, including both this season, and were in front of a crowd of almost 25000 very noisy home fans.
They followed a terrible home loss to Wycombe with a tough midweek cup trip to Leeds then the long trip to Suffolk to face the unbeaten leaders who had not played for a week and had spent millions over the summer.
They soon saw two players limp off in the first half - including in-form Josh Benson - as their already light squad was stretched to its limits.
They fell behind twice as Conor Chaplin was the latest player to net a long-range stunner against them while his fellow ex-Red Sam Morsy’s goal continued a more worrying habit of Barnsley not tracking midfield runners.
But they also equalised twice, showing far greater resilience than a week before when Duff said they ‘absolutely buckled’ after Wycombe took the lead at Oakwell.
The Reds wore the logo of sponsors Rapid Response on the front of their shirts and that was exactly what they provided to each goal, levelling after six minutes for 1-1 then five for 2-2.
They then showed great heart and desire to hang on towards the end as Ipswich dominated, especially in a surprising eight minutes of added time.
Ipswich - who were furious about a disallowed goal at 2-1 - will feel they should have won comfortably, as they were on top for most of the game, but will probably not be drawn into a scrap like that by many teams this season.
The Reds will want to control games more in the future but, in the circumstances, it was a unified Barnsley performance in which everyone contributed.
The left-footed Clarke Oduor epitomised the Reds’ effort with a decent performance out of position at right wing-back as a substitute.
The visitors could even have won it had they taken their chances at 1-1 but a point at one of the favourites from promotion is a creditable outcome.
AITCHISON GETS RARE HEADED GOAL
The identity of the scorers was also pleasing - with two of the smallest players on the pitch, Jack Aitchison and Callum Styles, netting excellent headers.
The first leveller may well have been Aitchison’s first ever header for Barnsley.
He has lost all 16 of his aerial duels this season while he admitted he had not scored a header since under 15 level and couldn’t remember the last time he headed the ball.
It was a fine finish and a good reward for his hard work this season in which he has been unlucky not to score, playing up front despite being an attacking midfielder.
Hopefully he can build on that and become a regular scorer, with the Reds also looking to sign at least one striker.
GOAL NICE MOMENT FOR STYLES
The second equaliser was another header by Styles who, until that point, had had a poor game, with Duff saying he had ‘a lot going on in his life’ referring at least partly to persistent rumours of a move away.
The left wing-back was beaten in the build-up to both goals, although certainly not the only player at fault, and was given a torrid time by Ipswich’s right-winger Wes Burns.
Styles could have put the Reds in front just after the break when played in by Jordan Williams on the left of the box but his 15-yard effort was well-saved by Christian Walton diving to his left.
But he kept going and scored a powerful header to earn a point, while he also made more interceptions than any player.
It was a nice man for Styles who is clearly lacking the spark that made him a target for other clubs but putting in an effort for his current club. If this was his final game then being mobbed by team-mates in front of the away end will be a good last memory.
It was a second set piece goal in four days and that could be a very useful weapon this season after they barely threatened from dead balls last campaign.
COLLINS LEADS HEROIC REARGUARD EFFORT
They may also need to rely at times on goalkeeper Brad Collins who, after a slightly sloppy start to the season, was back in super hero mode on Saturday.
He could do nothing about either goal and made some fine saves.
Collins dived down to his left to push away a 15-yard shot by Leif Davis then brilliantly tackled Freddie Ladapo in the six-yard box and tipped over a powerful volley Burns on the right of the box.
After watching George Edmondson head against his right post in the 93rd minute, Collins made a magnificent save in the 98th, leaping to his right to keep out a header by Kane Vincent-Young.
Even after that, in the 99th minute, Sone Aluko’s volley beat Collins but was cleared off the line by captain Mads Andersen, who was also heroic at the back. He made the most clearances and tackles, while also winning the most headers.
Liam Kitching again was solid, although his heart would have been in his mouth minutes after the 2-1 goal when home substitute Marcus Harness wrestled him to go clean through and scored one-on-one but the referee saw a foul. Replays showed Harness pulled Kitching’s shirt.
WILLIAMS’ EXTRA PACE VITAL IN BACK 3
Jordan Williams was the third centre-back, playing on the right in place of the benched Robbie Cundy, with Andersen moving into the middle.
That was to provide more pace at the back to keep up with Ipswich’s fast forwards and allow the Reds to push on as a unit and press aggressively at times.
It worked in general as the back three had enough speed and positional awareness to deal with the regular balls played over them. But Williams lost out in the air for some of the hosts’ late chances - as Duff would surely have brought on Cundy had he not used his three substitution slots.
Williams’ move meant Jordan Helliwell made his third league start, at right wing-back - a reward for solid performances in the cup at Middlesbrough and Leeds.
The 20-year-old has only played a handful of senior games but they include starts at West Brom - in central midfield on the final day of last season - Leeds and now Ipswich in front of more than 25,000 fans.
The injury, which forced him off after just 16 minutes, is frustrating but he has come a long way since he was expected to be released in April.
As well as Helliwell, Benson limped off in the first half. To lose their best attacker so far this season was a big blow but the Reds still created chances in his absence while Matty Wolfe was a willing replacement off the bench although partly at fault for the second goal.
Barnsley will be desperately hoping the injuries are not too serious.