Analysis of Barnsley's 5-0 home win over Morecambe. Devante Cole scored twice with an own goal, Herbie Kane and Bobby Thomas completing the rout.
LONGEST RUN OF HOME WINS SINCE 1984
THIS complete performance and dominant victory meant Barnsley had won seven successive home league games for the first time since late 1984 when many Reds fans will have been participating in the Miners’ Strike.
This time it was not coal that was a main topic of conversation but Cole as Devante bagged a brace to inspire the rampant Reds to win which kept them fourth, within five points of the top two.
The last time they were on this type of home form, Margaret Thatcher was almost killed by an IRA bomb, Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ was released and both Thomas The Tank Engine and The Bill aired for the first time on TV.
Michael Duff was then in primary school but he is now in charge of a side who have seen off Accrington, Cambridge, Derby, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Sheffield Wednesday and now Morecambe - each by at least two goals, with the Reds scoring 24 and conceding five in seven games.
They have won 12 of their last 13 home league games, with the only defeat being 3-0 to Bolton Wanderers with captain Mads Andersen wrongly sent off after ten minutes by the same referee who officiated Saturday’s thrashing.
The run has seen Oakwell change from an atmosphere of uncertainty, with last season’s horrors still haunting the terraces, to one of much more noisy support.
The atmosphere for this game was always going to be different to the previous home match when Sheffield Wednesday were beaten as, rather than 5,000 South Yorkshire people in the away end, there were fewer than 300 from Lancashire.
But the home fans enjoyed themselves and Duff praised them for making more noise than in the first game of this home run against Accrington when the Reds also went 3-0 up quickly but ‘you could hear a pin drop.’
It was also a far cry from the 1-0 loss at Morecambe in October when they were booed off by the away end. This is now a far more united club with the fans fully behind their team.
REDS DOMINATE MISMATCH
This was Barnsley’s biggest win since a 6- 1 thrashing of Rochdale in January 2016.
They were 3-0 up after 33 minutes then added two more after the break, while they could have scored several other goals.
The Reds were in total control, looking like they could score whenever they upped the tempo and opened up their poor visitors with excellent football. It was a very fluid, expansive performance by the hosts whose centre-backs would often pop up in and around the Shrimps area, such as for the second and third goals.
They scored some fantastic team goals in-between starting and finishing the rout from set pieces.
There was no better way to bounce back from the disappointing 3-1 loss at Exeter four days earlier which ended their 12-match unbeaten run.
It was probably the perfect fixture to have after that loss.
Morecambe were 22nd in League One, three points off safety, winless in seven and reportedly on the brink of administration with with wages not being paid.
They had not won away from home for six months, losing 15 out of 18, and had the joint fewest away points in the division this season with eight.
It was a total mismatch, and Morecambe endured a miserable first league trip to Oakwell, as you would probably expect given the two clubs’ budget and pedigree.
There have been some shock results in League One recently but Barnsley’s performance was never going to allow this to be another.
It is getting closer to summer time and there were some shrimps barbecued at Oakwell on Saturday, with the visitors made to look foolish on April 1.
Morecambe had made the most tackles in the division and Barnsley the fewest but it was the Reds who were first to everything and physically imposed themselves.
The away side had Oumar Niasse - who Everton once paid £14million for - and last season’s 23-goal man Cole Stockton up front but the visitors barely had a chance until it was far too late.
IMPRESSIVE COLE SO CLOSE TO HAT-TRICK
The last player to score a hat-trick for Barnsley remains Conor Chaplin against QPR in 2019.
But Devante Cole came extremely close to ending that wait with a superb performance.
He produced two cool finishes from close range in a ‘my dad used to play England’ showdown with Morecambe goalkeeper Connor Ripley - the son of ex-Red Stuart.
He came close on three other occasions before netting again late on when’s Ziyad Larkeche shot was deflected into his path. The goal was controversially ruled out for offside.
But Cole still moved onto 14 goals, the most of any season in his career and he is in League One’s top ten goal-scorers.
The narrative this season is that Barnsley don’t have a 20-goal striker and that the scoring will be shared out. But Cole could get close to that total if he continues to show the movement and finishing he displayed in this match.
THOMAS’ EMOTIONAL GOAL CAPS FINE WIN
When Bobby Thomas headed in the fifth goal in injury-time, he revealed a t-shirt which read ‘sleep tight nan’ in reference to his grandmother who had died the previous Tuesday.
The centre-back played that night, scoring at Exeter City but also conceding a penalty in a 3-1 loss.
As Michael Duff said on Saturday, it is easy to forget that footballers are young people with their own personal issues which can impact performances.
It cannot have been easy to get that news when hundreds of miles away.
Thomas was back to his best against Morecambe, continuing a very good loan spell in which he has defended well while adding three goals and three assists in 13 games to improve the Reds’ set piece threat.
He also produced one of the tackles of the season when he sent Pape Souare - who has won the French league then played in the Olympics and FA Cup final - flying early in the second half with a thunderous but legal challenge.
OTHER GOOD PERFORMANCES
Every Barnsley player performed well but a few stood out.
Luca Connell was the heartbeat of the Reds’ strong start. His powerful long-range shots which Ripley could not hold led to the first two goals while he could have had two other assists in the first half hour.
Herbie Kane was also excellent, nonchalantly backheeling a free-kick for the opener, scoring the second and supplying a wonderful dummy through his legs for the fourth. That last piece of skill was from an excellent pass by Jordan Williams who was also involved in three of the goals as well as other chances as he moved quickly on from his tough night in Exeter.
James Norwood - who had a sore hamstring - and Adam Phillips were both dropped to the bench having each scored nine goals this season and adding ten league assists between then.
Duff wanted to freshen his team up after the midweek defeat, bringing in Luke Thomas and Max Watters who had made an impact off the bench in previous games. It was exactly six months to the day since Luke Thomas last started a game, the 1-0 win at Fleetwood Town on October 1.
While neither incoming player were directly involved in a goal, they added pace and freshness to an attack which totally dismantled Morecambe.