Analysis of Barnsley's 2-0 win over Grimsby Town at Oakwell in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday, thanks to goals by Owen Dodgson and Aiden Marsh.


There is no reason why Barnsley can’t have a decent run in the EFL Trophy this season.

With a deeper squad than usual and, in most cases, at least two first team players fighting for every position, the Reds can field sides full of more senior players rather than relying on totally untested under 21s, although some will be given experience.

Barnsley made 11 changes – compared to eight by their League Two visitors – but at least eight of them were players who could realistically start a league game in the coming weeks.

The priority is obviously promotion but, if they stay lucky with injuries, they will have a large number of first team players not starting in the league who can try to impress in the cups.

That should give them a decent chance of progressing through the rounds. It is far too early to think about a Wembley final, and the Reds would rather be there for the play-offs, but winning is winning, plus having at least two competitions to focus on for most of the season would be healthy for this large squad.

The Reds, whose win took them to the top of Group F, host Manchester City under 21s on September 26 before visiting League Two Bradford City in November.


This was Barnsley’s first meeting with Grimsby for almost two decades since a 6-1 humiliation at Blundell Park in 2004.

Craig Ireland was sent off after 11 minutes, Phil Jevons scored four and missed a penalty, Isaiah Rankin – while on loan from the Reds – also netted then celebrated provocatively towards the away end of 2,000 who travelled in freezing February conditions.

Those who were there will remember that game, albeit for the wrong reasons, but that might not be the same for this drab spectacle in another 19 years. Some of the players probably won’t remember it, other than those who had milestones such as a return from injury or debut.

Barely anything happened for 34 minutes, with the visitors marginally more threatening, but then Owen Dodgson scored a fine goal and the hosts had a strong end to the half in which they should have netted a second.

After the break it returned to a turgid contest, only livened up right at the end by Aiden Marsh’s goal as Barnsley netted in injury-time to secure a 2-0 victory for the third straight game.

With such a changed team and players who have barely been playing, it was inevitable that it would be a disjointed performance.

But the Reds scored two good goals and their goalkeeper, former Grimsby player Ben Killip, did not have a save to make while there were some encouraging individual stories.

This was the first of a run of five home games in the next six fixtures and, although the upcoming games are more important overall, it was another positive result for a squad beginning to find some momentum and consistency.


Barnsley’s two deadline day signings combined for the opening goal as Sam Cosgrove headed a long throw into the path of the onrushing Dodgson who drilled in a good ten-yard finish with his weaker right foot.

It was a perfect first game for left wing-back Dodgson who, as well as scoring, caught the eye with his pace, skill and also being taller than most wing-backs.

He should provide the competition for Nicky Cadden that had been previously lacking.

Cosgrove will also provide competition up front as well as helping the other strikers by adding a tall physical presence which will draw defenders and create chances for others with his hold-up play and aerial threat. He opened Grimsby up a couple of times with clever headers and passes.

Cosgrove should have made it 2-0 just before the break when a defender made a mess of clearing a Kyran Lofthouse pass and he was clean through but shot wide from 12 yards. Hopefully he will be more sharp for an hour on the pitch after barely playing this season. Overall it was a promising debut.

The third full debutant was Jamie McCart who was solid and untroubled on the left of the back three.

The right-sided central defender was Mael de Givegney who, 17 days on since his nightmare full debut against Oxford, was much better. He looked comfortable on the ball, passed well at times, surged forward in attack and, most importantly, defended well.

His long throw also led to the opener.

It was a cup game against a League Two side but the Frenchman can take plenty of confidence from this display.

De Givegney was taken off late on after suffering a dead leg which Collins hoped would not rule him out of any games.

There was also a first start for Lofthouse who looked lively and whole-hearted at right wing-back, before his game was ended by a clash of heads with McCart.


The second goal came from a good move down the right which involved fine passes by Conor McCarthy, young substitute Danny Benson then Josh Benson who crossed low for Marsh to tap in almost on the line.

It was the 20-year-old striker’s third goal for his hometown club, all at Oakwell and in three different competitions after netting in the Championship and EFL Cup.

He has also made an impact off the bench in the last three league games, coming close to a leveller against Oxford then helping to create the second goals at Wigan and Cheltenham.

He also has five goals in his last two under 21s appearances.

After being around the first team since he was 16, and suffering injury set-backs, he is finally getting more regular opportunities and so far making the most of them.

He started on the bench despite Collins saying he deserved to start, but the head coach felt he had to give Cosgrove gametime.

If Marsh keeps scoring and assisting in his limited minutes, he will be hard to leave out much longer. Part of the reason for loaning out Andy Dallas and Oli Shaw was to give Marsh and Fabio Jalo more opportunities.

Marsh was the oldest of the seven home substitutes and the only one who had made a league appearance.

The others also made an impact.

Centre-back Nathan James made his professional debut and looked good, producing a superb saving tackle after McCarthy lost the ball.

Vimal Yoganathan, 17, put in some good tackles and added energy in midfield while right wing-back Danny Benson was involved in the goal.

Teenagers Harrison Nejman and Theo Chapman started in midfield and will have both learned a lot.


Conor McCarthy returned almost a year on from suffering an ACL injury at Oakwell against Charlton on September 24 last year.

The Irish centre-back led the team out as captain then played 90 minutes, starting in the middle of the back three then moving to the right, having played on the left for the under 21s a week earlier.

He had a fairly easy night along with his fellow defenders but it was a big step on his journey to being back in the Barnsley team on a regular basis. He is now one of half a dozen centre-backs fighting for a start in the Reds’ new-look back three.

Josh Benson also returned to the first team squad, having last been seen on crutches at Wembley after injuring his ankle as a substituted substitute in the play-off final.

The midfielder made his professional debut for Grimsby on loan from Burnley in 2020 and, although it was a game in which no one played magnificently, he looked comfortable on the ball and had enough energy to burst into the box in injury-time to set Marsh up.

Another less-heralded return was that of teenage goalkeeper Kieren Flavell to the bench, following two ACL injuries.