Barnsley continued their fine recent form with a 3-1 win at Port Vale on Tuesday.

Luca Connell scored a stunning opener after 25 seconds then, after Vale levelled, Liam Kitching made it 2-1 to the Reds midway through the first half. Substitute Adam Phillips added another in the second half.

On a very poor pitch, Barnsley were not at their free-flowing best but – after a poor spell early on – looked comfortable and were clinical with goals from their first three shots on target.

It was a fourth win out of five games for Barnsley, who remain sixth in League One, three points clear in the play-off places.

Jon Russell made his first start, in place of the benched Phillips. James Norwood came in for the suspended Max Watters with Slobodan Tedic back on the bench.

The Reds made a perfect start as, after Jordan Williams’ cross was cleared following good work on the right by Devante Cole, Connell brilliantly found the top right corner from just outside the box. It was the midfielder’s second goal of the season after another long-range stunner at Peterborough.

The hosts responded very well and put Barnsley under a lot of pressure before levelling in the 14th minute. Aaron Donnelly's cross from the left was met at a tight angle at the back post by Ben Garrity who sent the ball across goal for Nathan Smith to turn in.

But the Reds retook the lead from their second attack of note. Herbie Kane ran up to take a free-kick on the left then stopped and Connell floated in a cross which was headed home by Kitching. The hosts appealed for offside but replays appeared to show Kitching was level with the last defender. It was his third goal of the season and second against Port Vale.

The Reds had scored from their only real attacks of the first quarter of the match in which they mainly defended, but were more comfortable after the second goal.

Cole headed over from a Kane cross and Nicky Cadden shot high from long range before Vale appealed for a penalty against Bobby Thomas for handball.

Phillips replaced Russell for the second half and scored just after the hour. After a long throw was cleared, the midfielder’s 25-yard strike deflected off a defender and looped in for his sixth goal of the season.

Phillips unleashed a shot from even further out minutes later but the powerful low strike was too close to the goalkeeper who held it.

Harry Isted made his first save of the night in the 71st minute, easily catching after Mads Andersen deflected a cross towards his own goal. Gavin Massey then blasted over from just outside the box.

Substitute Tedic tried an acrobatic bicycle kick from a long Williams pass but scuffed wide. At the other end, Ellis Harrison saw a goal ruled out for offside.

Barnsley (3-5-2): Isted, Thomas, Andersen, Kitching; Williams, Kane, Connell, Russell (Phillips HT) Cadden; Cole (Shaw 74mins), Norwood (Tedic 74).

Unused: Searle, Martin, Cotter, Larkeche.

Yellow cards: Cadden, Phillips.

Goals: Connell 1, Kitching 21, Phillips 62.

Port Vale (4-3-3): Stone; Donnelly, Smith, Forrester, Benning (Harrison 67mins); Garrity, Conlon (Politic 62), Ojo; Massey, Worrall, Proctor (Taylor 62).

Unused: Stevens, Pett, Agyakwa, Robinson,.

Goals: Smith 14.

  • 7:47pm
    Luca Connell scores a stunning goal after 25 seconds
  • 7:49pm
    Good work by Devante Cole on the right. Williams' cross is cleared to Connell just outside the box and he finds the top right corner. with a marvellous strike
  • 7:51pm
    Luca Connell has it all really – very good tackler and passer who can also do THAT. An excellent bit of business to get him, and a great find by the recruitment team
  • 7:51pm
    Perfect start for the Reds. The hosts are obviously rattled and the home crowd quiet. Long way to go of course
  • 7:52pm
    Vale starting to attack a bit now. They burst into the box from the right and Isted punches a. cross behind for a corner
  • 7:53pm
    Now Isted punches a crooner away and Kane blocks a long range shot
  • 7:55pm
    Vale free-kick on the right. Headed out then cleared
  • 7:57pm
    Vale see. another corner easily cleared
  • 7:59pm
    Vale have been the better side sin ce the goal. There are a couple of scrambles in the box with good blocks from the Reds defenders then the hosts win a corner
  • 8:00pm
    A cross from the left is met at the back post by Nathan Smith who fires in from a tight angle
  • 8:03pm
    Deserved leveller. The hosts had been well on top after conceding in the first. minute. A very similar goal to the one they scored here in the trophy. Clearly a tactic they are using against the Reds, a deep crosses to the back post met by late runners from wide
  • 8:06pm
    Barnsley win a free-kick on the left
  • 8:07pm
    Liam Kitching regains the lead for the Reds
  • 8:10pm
    A clever free-kick routine. Kane runs up to take it but stops then Connell swings it in. Kitching is totally unmarked to head in his second goal of the season against Vale and second in three games. Home fans and staff seem to think it was offside
  • 8:14pm
    Smash and grab / clinical from Barnsley. They have defended for most of the game, attacked twice and scored twice
  • 8:14pm
    Goal and assist now for Luca Connell tonight
  • 8:15pm
    This pitch is very poor. It's cut up a lot after 30 minutes and looks tough to play on
  • 8:17pm
    31 Connell corner on the left. Cleared then Kane crosses and Cole heads over
  • 8:21pm
    The game is pretty even and scrappy now. Both sides struggling to play football on this surface
  • 8:22pm
    36 Cadden is gifted the ball and shoots well o ver from about 25 yards
  • 8:24pm
    Vale want a handball against Bobby Thomas but it was blasted against the top of his arm from close range and the referee waved appeals. away
  • 8:27pm
    Approaching half-time now. Barnsley. haven't been particularly good but have been clinical and generally defended well
  • 8:28pm
    43 Devante Cole wins a corner on the left
  • 8:29pm
    43 Connell's corner from the left is played to Cadden who crosses. Thomas tries to get it then clashes with a Vale player who. he appeared to foul. The referee breaks it up and has a word with them both
  • 8:31pm
    Two added minutes
  • 8:33pm
    HALF-TIME: Port Vale 1, Barnsley 2
  • 8:49pm
  • 8:50pm
    Phillips on for Russell
  • 8:53pm
    Can only assume Russell is injured or just lacking match fitness on his first start for nearly half a year
  • 8:55pm
    Isted drops a cross but was clearly fouled and a free-kick is given
  • 8:57pm
    Mads Andersen boots the ball out play then puts his finger to his ear and stares at the home fans with a massive smile on his face.
  • 9:02pm
    Vale win a c corner on the left
  • 9:03pm
    58 - corner is headed out then Isted catches the follow up cross
  • 9:03pm
    Not much action after the break. both sides struggling to make a killer last pass
  • 9:05pm
    Adam Phillips scores from about 25 yards with a deflected shot
  • 9:07pm
    After a. long throw is half-cleared, Phillips' shot hits a defender and loops past the wrong-footed goalkeeper
  • 9:08pm
    That's his sixth of the season
  • 9:08pm
    Two goals to the good now and the Barnsley fans are in fine voice
  • 9:10pm
    65 Phillips shoots from even further out, about thirty yards, it's a powerful low strike but too c lose too the goalkeeper who holds it
  • 9:10pm
    Now Phillips clears a Vale corner
  • 9:14pm
    Kane tries to send a low free-kick into the box but is easily cleared
  • 9:14pm
    A low cross from `the right deflects off Andersen and loops towards the top right corner but Isted. catches easily
  • 9:16pm
    71 Corner from the right leads to head tennis then Isted catches.
  • 9:16pm
    Oli Shaw and Slobodan Tedic coming on
  • 9:18pm
    Cole and Norwood off
  • 9:20pm
    Adam Phillips booked for taking out a Vale man on the attack
  • 9:21pm
    Andersen heads away a free-kick
  • 9:24pm
    Into the final ten minutes. Barnsley closing in on a tenth away win of the season
  • 9:24pm
    Gavin Massey blasts over from just outside the box
  • 9:28pm
    Vale trying to get the. ball behind the Reds but the defence is holding firm
  • 9:29pm
    85 Worrall's corner not claimed by Isted but Phillips makes a crucial interception then Andersen heads behind., The second corner is more easily cleared
  • 9:30pm
    Nicky Cadden booked for kicking the ball away
  • 9:32pm
    88 Long throw from the left. bounces in Barnsley box then Andersen blasts clear
  • 9:34pm
    Attendance: 5663 (642 from Barnsley)
  • 9:34pm
    Tedic tries an acrobatic bicycle kick from a long Williams pass but scuffs wide
  • 9:35pm
    Ellis Harrison taps in from a cross but the linesman's flag is up
  • 9:37pm
    Vale win a late corner on the right
  • 9:38pm
    Andersen heads the corner out – he has been very solid – and a volley is blasted well over
  • 9:39pm
    FULL-TIME: Port Vale 1, Barnsley 3