Analysis from Barnsley's 1-0 win at Exeter City on Saturday.
FIRE ON COACH MAKES LONG TRIP LONGER
Barnsley’s players and staff were almost halfway back from Exeter when a fire was detected on their coach.
They were all evacuated safely before flames engulfed the vehicle, which still contained many of their personal belongings and club equipment such as oxygen tanks.
Images of a coach consumed by fire began to appear on social media as the Reds waited by the side of the road, apparently in good spirits.
The incident happened on the M5 Northbound just south of Cheltenham and a section of that road was closed so emergency services could deal with the fire. Alternative arrangements were made for them all to get home, much later than planned.
It sounds like a bizarre and frightening incident but thankfully not one that caused any injuries.
There was certainly some inconvenience, especially for the likes of Callum Styles who had a flight to catch for international duty the next day.
But it may have been easier to cope with after securing an epic victory earlier in the day.
REDS GET YET ANOTHER AWAY WIN
A 90th-minute winner in your longest trip of the season is what being a football fan is all about.
After John McAtee’s last-gasp header caused chaos in the away end, the journey home - if they were ahead of the team bus and avoided the road closures - will have flown by for the roughly 600 supporters who travelled to Devon.
The Reds had travelled almost 800 miles to and from both Cambridge and Exeter this week - the same distance as from Oakwell to San Siro in Milan.
Two clean sheets and two wins was a fine reward.
Barnsley have now won five successive away games for the second time in four seasons.
Although the 2021 sequence is more impressive as it was in the Championship, it was behind-closed-doors so this current run may be more memorable for the fans who have travelled to Wigan, Cheltenham, Northampton, Cambridge and now Exeter.
If they win at Leyton Orient on October 21 they will the equal club record set by Valerien Ismael’s men with a trip to Derby County to follow.
Although they have had some poor results at home, the Reds have won eight out of ten in all competitions and are up to third.
POOR GAME BUT REDS SHOW CHARACTER
Exeter had lost four of their last five league games, including the last three. But they had been the only side to do the double over the Reds last season.
Barnsley began quite brightly and created some early chances, pressing their hosts into errors. But the Reds had no real end product and soon lost their intensity, being dragged into a scrappy and dull contest by Exeter who were poor in first half but started the second on top.
In unexpectedly warm weather for October, it was often a sleepy fixture which seemed to be drifting towards 0-0.
Barnsley’s substitutes helped to up the tempo and they looked the more likely winners towards the end but, as a team, they strangely seemed to scuff or miscontrol the ball when in good positions to shoot or cross.
The Reds eventually got their goal with, as Neill Collins said, the first move in which they got everything right.
Even then Exeter hit the post for the second time in the game, but the Reds held on for another victory.
They showed character to keep going and are developing a very healthy winning habit.
COLLINS USES STRONG BENCH WELL
Barnsley’s goal was excellent, lighting up a low-quality game.
A pass out of Exeter’s defence was intercepted near halfway by Mael de Givegney who capped a superb game by brilliantly backheeling the ball to Herbie Kane who immediately found McAtee. The forward showed fine footwork to beat a man then passed to Owen Dodgson before sprinting into the box to head the wing-back’s accurate cross into the bottom left corner.
It sparked jubilant scenes but McAtee said afterwards he mainly felt relief after missing big chances in the previous two games. He should have added a second in Exeter but did what was required and joins
Glyn Riley and Barrie Thomas on the list of Reds players to net winners there.
It was a very similar goal to one Slobodan Tedic netted at Wycombe in March, in terms of the move and the situation at the end of a dull game.
McAtee made an impact as soon as he replaced the ineffective Max Watters, dropping deep to collect the ball and getting between the home defence and midfield with an energetic performance.
Dodgson - who provided quality delivery and could have had two assists - and Barry Cotter added impetus on the wings while attacking midfielder Adam Phillips coming on for the more defensive Jon Russell was a bold change by Collins which worked well. Sam Cosgrove got another few minutes after replacing top-scorer Devante Cole, another example of the depth in this Reds squad.
Collins has real quality to bring off the bench but he has to use it wisely and did so.
Although John McAtee stole the headlines, man of the match must be a toss-up between centre-backs Mael de Givegney and Jamie McCart.
The Frenchman probably just edges it for his fantastic touch in the build-up to the goal and some runs out of defence past several players - adding a different dimension to the solid defensive displays in the previous two matches.
McCart also went up another level - having been a ‘steady Eddie’ in previous matches, he was dominant here and won 12 headers. It was a classy performance despite being booked in the opening minutes.
Jordan Williams had the toughest assignment of the back three as he tried to contain Exeter’s dangerman Demetri Mitchell and generally did so well.
The Reds back three are beginning to gel and improve, having been highlighted as a weak area.
Liam Roberts did not have a save to make, a sharp contrast to previous games.