Analysis of Barnsley's 2-1 home success over Shrewsbury Town on Monday. Nicky Cadden and Devante Cole netted late in the first half then Cadden was sent off and the visitors pulled one back.
NERVY WIN EXTENDS MAGNIFICENT HOME RUN
When we look back at this history-making series of home wins, and potentially a charge into the Championship, this game is unlikely to immediately spring to mind as a vintage performance.
While it may linger in the memory for the bad-tempered shenanigans towards the end, it was a fairly forgettable Barnsley display - certainly the worst in the eight-match winning run at Oakwell which is their best such sequence since 1969.
But it gives them just as many points as the seven previous victories which were all by at least two goals and included humblings of promotion rivals.
The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ – which is now played before and after games at Oakwell – had only been released for a year the last time the Reds were on such a long winning run there.
It is a magnificent run and appreciated by the fans who - after being very quiet at 3-0 up in the first game of that run against Accrington in January - have fallen in love with this team and were whipped into a frenzy during the late drama in this Bank Holiday Monday.
Michael Duff said afterwards that Barnsley’s medical team nearly ran out of bandages following a nasty cut for Mads Andersen early on then a late clash of heads involving Herbie Kane.
But their supplies of guts and resilience were plentiful as they bounced back from the controversial loss at Burton Albion earlier in the weekend.
RESULTS ELSEWHERE GO IN REDS’ FAVOUR
Results elsewhere went in Barnsley’s favour with Plymouth suffering a shock 2-0 loss at home to Lincoln and Ipswich’s run of eight wins and clean sheets ending with a draw at Cheltenham.
That left the Reds five points off the top two and six behind leaders Sheffield Wednesday who have played an extra match.
There is a temptation to think about how close the win at Burton on Friday they were likely denied by a refereeing blunder would have put them to the top two, but they must focus on the upcoming six matches.
They may well need maximum points for automatic promotion – or very close to it – which will be very difficult considering some of the tricky fixtures ahead such as a trip to Lincoln then home games with Ipswich and Peterborough.
But the Reds will not give up until it is mathematically impossible and they have already achieved well above expectations this season so you cannot totally rule them out.
SHREWSBURY DRAG REDS INTO A SCRAP
Shrewsbury were tenth with nothing to play for in terms of promotion or relegation. They had lost the last three, conceding 11 and scoring none - losing 6-0 at Charlton in their previous away game. Although their 11 was very experienced, with six at least 29 years old, they had only six substitutes including several untested youngsters.
But the idea of them being ‘on the beach’ - already mentally checked out and waiting for their summer holidays - always seemed far-fetched given their disciplinarian boss Steve Cotterill.
Duff spoke glowingly in the build-up of his respect for Cotterill who launched the careers of both him and Reds first team coach Martin Devaney at Cheltenham. The veteran manager has had a fine career but not at Oakwell where he has never won in seven attempts with six different clubs.
Shrewsbury played his typical style of direct combative football while Barnsley struggled to play the high-tempo dominant football which was overwhelmed League One’s best at Oakwell recently, with a sloppiness to their play especially in midfield.
But they were the better side overall, scoring twice late in the first half and creating several other chances.
For 73 minutes, they were in control and, even after they had Nicky Cadden controversially sent off, did not looked particularly threatened until Killian Phillips headed in a left-wing cross in the first of nine added minutes.
Ryan Bowman could have completed a remarkable comeback when he met a low cross eight yards out but his weak shot rolled to goalkeeper Harry Isted.
Instead Bowman was sent off minutes later for throwing Bobby Thomas to the floor during a melee following a scything Jordan Shipley tackle on Luke Thomas to end a counter-attack, which led to a flurry of bookings.
The away match, which Barnsley won 1-0 in November, also ended in a fracas with both clubs being fined.
After this latest meeting, Bobby Thomas was involved in an altercation with a Shrewsbury member of staff before his team-mates left their lap of applause for the fans to rush to his defence.
They were undignified scenes which Duff did not like, saying his side should have just enjoyed the win and walked off.
COLE CAUSES FIRST GOAL AND SCORES SECOND
Devante Cole was initially credited with the opening goal after he ran to the front post to meet Cadden’s low left-wing cross which crept in on 41 minutes. But replays appeared to show he did not get a touch and it was a Cadden goal via a deflection off Chey Dunkley - who once scored an own goal playing against Barnsley for Oxford at Wembley.
Despite not scoring, that is exactly the kind of run Duff wants Cole to make.
But there was no doubt that Cole scored the second minutes later, with a good reaction after Liam Kitching’s shot was badly spilt by Marko Marosi.
That moved him on to 15 goals in all competitions this season while he is only one strike behind the top five in the division. He also showed good hold-up play and heading ability in this game.
The other striker Max Watters – who replaced James Norwood in the only change from Friday – did not have as good a match. He missed several chances including an incredible open goal incident.
Norwood is now likely to return to the starting line-up.
There could be other changes too with Adam Phillips having a mini dip in standards, while Luke Thomas and Josh Benson are pushing for a start.
CADDEN STAR MAN DESPITE RED CARD
A decade ago this week, Geoff Eltringham sent off Stephen Dawson and Tom Kennedy in Barnsley’s 6-0 home loss to Charlton. Later that year, the Durham referee dismissed Dale Jennings minutes into his Reds debut against Wigan.
On Monday, in his 22nd match in charge of Barnsley, he showed a red card to Nicky Cadden.
While the previous three decisions were correct, this was doubtful as Cadden seemed fractionally late to a 50/50 challenge with Killian Phillips.
Cadden was still announced as man of the match in the stadium and rightly so after an impressive display with dangerous crosses causing real problems.
His goal, although slightly fortunate, was Cadden’s fifth in 14 games after not netting in his first 23 Barnsley appearances.
Since he opened his account for the club at Oxford on February 1, only Cole has more goals.
Cadden joins fellow wing-back Jordan Williams on five for the season which emphasises Barnsley’s impressive threat from wide areas and goal-scoring prowess throughout the side.
If they do not successfully appeal the red card, Cadden will miss the trips to his old club Forest Green and Lincoln then the home game with Oxford.
It could be an opportunity for Ziyad Larkeche, who has only started two league games since signing in September, unless the Reds play someone out of position.