Two top quality finishes at the start and end of the game saw Barnsley claim an excellent 2-1 win at Northampton Town.But the Reds were made to fight all the way for the three points that see them move up to fifth in the Sky Bet League One table.A stunning fourth-minute volley from Callum Styles set Barnsley on their way, but it wasn't until the 88th-minute they douled their advantage, with a lung-bursting breakaway goal from top-scorer Devante Cole making it 2-0.It took Cole's tally for the season to nine goals in nine gamesNorthampton kept plugging away and got one back eight minutes into stoppage time through Louis Appere, but the Reds clung on in the dying minutes to take the points back to Oakwell.Barnsley boss Neil Collins made four changes to the team that started Tuesday's night's 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Portsmouth.Out went John McAtee, Jon Russell, Nicky Cadden and Barry Cotter, and they were replaced by Sam Cosgrove, Styles, Corey O'Keefe and Owen Dodgson.The trip to Sixfields was a significant one for goalkeeper Liam Roberts, who was making his first return to the club where he was named the supporters' player of the year in the 2021/22 season.The Reds made a flying start, and in the opening seconds only a last-ditch sliding tackle from Sam Sherring denied Cole getting a shot on target from close range. The deadlock was broken in the fourth minute and it was a moment of high class from Styles.Northampton goalkeeper Lee Burge got in a tangle dealing with a Sherring back pass, and his shanked clearance only went as far as Styles who, from 25 yards out, volleyed the ball first time towards goal with his left foot, his shot curling away from the retreating Burge and into the net.The home side responded well, and Roberts had to be at his best a few minutes later, diving full length low to his right to palm away a powerful header from a corner from Jon Guthrie.Both sides then had spells of possession without creating anything clearcut, until out of the blue Roberts was again called into action on 28 minutes.After a ball was cleared from a corner, Mitch Pinnock let fly with a stunning left foot volley from 22 yards that was arrowing towards the bottom corner, but Roberts was again up to the task for Barnsley, parrying the ball round the post.Roberts' excellence ensured the Reds went in at the break with the advantage given them by Styles' moment of magic.The second half started in cagey fashion, with Northampton pressing to get back into the game, but Barnsley holding them at arms' length.There were half chances at both ends, but goalmouth action was at a premium.The introduction of Cotter off the bench injected some width into Barnsley's attack down the right, and on 73 minutes he raced clear of the defence and pulled the ball back for Styles in the penalty area.But the finish this time from the Hungarian midfielder was poor as his weak right foot shot from 15 yards trundled into the arms of Burge. It was a good chance to kill the game.The Reds were now starting to dominate, and moments later Cole very nearly sealed the points, but his powerful header from Kane's free-kick was brilliantly tipped on to the bat by Burge and it stayed 1-0. That meant Northampton were still in the game, and they went close to an equaliser six minutes from time, but Patrick Brough's fizzing effort from the left flew a foot wide.With two minutes left on the clock, Roberts saved at close range from Guthrie, but from the resultant corner, Barnsley broke away and won it.Northampton made a hash of a short corner routine, Hoskins' pass to the edge of the box was cut out by Cole who raced away with a clear pitch ahead of him.The pacy striker kept going and going before letting fly from the egde of the area, his shot beating Burge high to his right, the keeper getting a hand to it but it wasn't enough to keep the ball from flying into the top corner.To their credit the home side kept going, and four minutes into stoppage time Roberts once again thwarted his former employers, saving Kieron Bowie's snapshot low to his right.But the keeper could do nothing to stop Northampton pulling one back eight minutes into stoppage time, Appere latching on to a ball over the top and prodding home to make it 2-1.The home side sniffed a dramatic comeback and piled forward, but Barnsley escaped without any further scares to claim their fifth win in six matches in all competitions.
Reds return to winning ways at Northampton
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