Analysis of Barnsley's 1-0 loss at Hull City in a friendly on Tuesday evening.
POSITIVE SIGNS AS FANS GET FIRST LOOK AT COLLINS' REDS
THIS was the first time Barnsley fans have been able to watch a Neill Collins team in action and, although it was only a friendly very early in his tenure, it was a positive night overall.
The Reds – having been battered 9-1 by another Championship side in Leeds United behind-closed-doors three days earlier – competed well with their second tier hosts in front of a few hundred away fans.
They missed chances to take the lead in the first half with a strong team then a side of under 21s with two EFL starts between them more than held their own against a home XI full of Championship experience with two international strikers up front in Oscar Estupinan and Benjamin Tetteh.
The Reds looked organised and well-drilled, while playing some good football, and it was reminiscent at times of last season – other than the shouts from the coach watching keenly from edge of the technical area having a Scottish twang.
There is clearly plenty of work for Collins and his players to do, as well as the recruitment staff, and we should never read too much into friendlies either way, but it seemed like a group of players and coaches on course to be competitive again this campaign.
SOME GOOD INDIVIDUAL DISPLAYS FOR THE REDS
There were eye-catching performances in the first half by Nicky Cadden, who regularly beat his man and sent in good crosses, James Norwood who looked fit and sharp up front, and midfield trio Luca Connell, Herbie Kane and Adam Phillips who did so well last season.
Goalkeeper Ben Killip, after letting in nine at the weekend, made two fine saves.
Devante Cole, Jordan Williams, Robbie Cundy were not involved as they have minor injuries while Conor McCarthy is still returning to full fitness. It is fair to assume that the majority of the back six which started the game are unlikely to start the first league match if everyone is fit.
Nathan James – the 18-year-old centre-back who was the only player to play in both halves – also impressed, as did new signing Jack Shepherd who brilliantly blocked from Liam Delap late on.
They both made decent cases for more gametime as the Reds look for centre-back options following several summer exits.
There were two Barnsley trialists in Luke Hall, who impressed against the Reds for Worksop earlier in the summer and looked a pacy threat, as well as right wing-back Selim Saied from Farnborough.
TWO NUMBER FOURS AND A LENIENT REFEREE
There were some classic friendly elements to the game such as both James and Kacper Lopata wearing number four on their shirts.
Barry Cotter and Adam Phillips were beaten by an attacker then cynically pulled them to the ground which would be a clear booking in a competitive match but only resulted in a free-kick and talking to from lenient referee Oliver Langford.
Cotter was eventually booked in the 20th minute for a similar foul on the same player, after claims for a penalty against him were waved away.
He struggled to contain Hull’s left-winger Will Jarvis who was left unmarked to turn in the opener after a good move down the right.
The Irish right wing-back can impress going forward but clearly needs to tighten up defensively to play regularly.
STRIKER SHAW MISSES OPPORTUNITY
It should have been Barnsley who took the lead in the 12th minute when Oli Shaw shot over the empty net from a few yards out after good work by Liam Kitching then Cadden.
It is good to get misses like that out of the system in pre-season but, with new strikers seemingly on their way into the club and Cole to come back, this was a chance for Shaw to impress Collins.
He put in some good tackles but looked to lack confidence on the ball.
Barnsley had other chances.
Ryan Woods gifted Herbie Kane the ball on the halfway line and he tried to lob the goalkeeper Matt Ingram who ran back to catch it.
It was almost a second goal of the summer from that distance by the former Hull man after netting at Fylde last week.
Norwood then brilliantly turned a defender before shooting from 25 yards but Ingram turned it wide.
In the second half, Fabio Jalo almost levelled but his 30-yard free-kick was turned out of the bottom left corner.