Analysis from Barnsley's 3-1 win at lowly Reading. The hosts took the lead but Herbie Kane levelled with a penalty before late strikes by Devante Cole and Max Watters.


“GET HIM gone’, ‘time to go’ and ‘sack him now’ were some of the many anti Neill Collins that peppered social media announcements by the club and Chronicle that Barnsley had fallen behind early on Saturday.

But the joyous scenes after their two late goals in front of the away end and following the final whistle suggested a different sentiment from most of those in attendance.

Barnsley remain one place and two points outside the top six but have lost just one of their last nine league games and are the second top-scorers in the division while they have taken an impressive 21 points from ten away games.

They are still a point clear of the tally they had this time last season while, if they win at home to Charlton Athletic tomorrow – a tough game – they will have the most points after 20 since the 1978/79 campaign.

Of course their home record– the 16th best in the division – needs to improve, and it is concerning that they have lost every game against fellow top eight sides. To get promotion they will need to defend better than they did early in this match and their overall performance levels can still improve substantially.

But they showed great character and quality to win in Reading after a poor first half.

Collins is clearly learning on the job and knows he has work to do to win over some sceptical supporters, with the two pre-Christmas home games now vital.

But the idea that he should be under pressure for his job seems odd to say the least based on results and the fact that he is slowly rebuilding a much-changed team while delivering a healthy points tally.

With players returning to fitness and hopefully form, as well as the pivotal January transfer window, he surely deserves much more time in the role.


It had been 766 days, and 116 games, since the Reds came from behind to win.

The previous occasion was against Derby County in November 2021 when Jo Laumann was caretaker boss, Victor Adeboyejo and Aaron Leya Iseka scored while no current players started.

The last time Barnsley came from behind to win away from home was the fantastic second half at Bournemouth in March 2021 when they cemented themselves in the Championship play-off places under Valerien Ismael.

This comeback win had been coming for a while.

The Reds have come from behind to draw several games and almost won at Lincoln on their last road trip. It must be a big psychological boost to finally win from behind and they showed impressive resilience.

Barnsley are the best team in the division in the second half of games, scoring 25 goals and conceded only ten – testament to their fitness, drive and the coach’s changes.

Collins was pleased with the comeback but wants his team to start games better and was disappointed with the early set piece goal.

Lewis Wing’s free-kick was headed on by Clinton Mola, who beat Jamie McCart in the air, then Harvey Knibbs was not tracked by Herbie Kane or Nicky Cadden before nodding in from close range.

The Reds have conceded the opening goal in four of their last five league games – three of them in the opening five minutes.


Reading are currently English football’s crisis club. They started the game second-bottom in League One, five points off safety and battling a second successive relegation, having been deducted four points and hit by a winding-up order while many of the non-playing staff have not been paid.

After a nine-game winless run, their young side had won their last two league games, including a 5-1 success over Carlisle in their last home league match, while they were unbeaten in five at home and had a better record on their own turf than Barnsley this season.

But, despite playing with real passion, they were still one of the weaker sides the Reds could have faced while their incredibly open and attacking approach in the second half gave the visitors an opportunity of winning which most opponents will not gift them.

Reading fans threw few tennis balls on the pitch several times in a protest against their owner, causing breaks in play.

Barnsley did not play like Roger Federer but instead hung in the rally until they were able to hit the decisive winning shot.

The Reds were lucky to be level at half-time, struggling from set pieces early on including for the goal then levelling from a disputed penalty.

The second half was even and entertaining with both sides missing chances, before the Reds landed a late double sucker punch.

The result ended a ten-game wait for a win over Reading since a 3-1 away success in 2014, after which they had not netted in five visits and had lost the last four.


The pre-match press conference attracted more attention than usual due to Herbie Kane’s interview.

The midfielder gave very short answers to questions about Luca Connell’s return and his own time at the club. It was definitely odd, but the conclusion from some fans that it shows he does not care or that the players are demotivated in general seemed over the top.

That was confirmed when Kane delivered a key performance by smashing in a penalty to level before cleverly assisting the winner.

He did his talking on the pitch rather than the press conference.

Kane was much more attacking than usual, regularly racing into the box from the left as the hosts left huge spaces in their half.

He now has three league goals – only Devante Cole has more – and three assists, the joint most for the Reds this season.

His penalty was fired confidently into the top left corner after Sam Smith headed against his team-mate Tyler Bindon’s arm in the box.

Kane had been joined in midfield by Adam Phillips – who replaced Callum Styles – and Luca Connell, as last season’s trio was reunited from the start for the first time in the league this season. All of them struggled at times in the disjointed first half but they played their part after the break.

Phillips delivered probably his best performance of a tough personal season, with some fine passing, while Connell’s long balls forward led to both late goals.


The match was finely poised heading into final ten minutes when Barnsley’s star striker produced a moment of magic.

After Kane chested down Connell’s long ball into his path, Cole controlled it and smashed a wonderful 22-yard shot into the net.

The striker had not had his best game but came up with possibly the best of his 12 goals this season. He emphasised yet again how important keeping him in January will be to Barnsley’s promotion ambitions.

Then two substitute strikers combined for the third goal when Fabio Jalo latched onto Connell’s pass on the right, brilliantly beat a defender and crossed low for Max Watters to turn in from close range.

But Watters’ joy at netting, having been left out of the previous league squad, was cut short as former Barnsley captain Andy Yiadom’s tackle, when he scored, left him with studmarks on his leg and saw him hobble off.

It was the second time in four days that a striker picked up an injury while scoring as Watters was only in the squad because John McAtee hurt his knee netting at Blackpool. Both tackles would normally be punished but defenders seem to be able to do whatever they want if a goal goes in.

Watters – who has three goals and three assists from limited gametime – is not expected to be out for long.

Teenager Jalo registered his first assist in league football. Last time Barnsley won in Reading, one of their scorers was Reuben Noble-Lazarus, another attacking talent out of the academy.

But Jalo seems to be being managed into the first team better than Reuben who never fulfilled his potential, with the Portuguese attacker a very exciting prospect. He replaced Sam Cosgrove who missed some good chances.

As well as Watters, Nicky Cadden had come off much earlier in the game with a hamstring problem. He was replaced by Styles who returned to the left wing-back position he made his name in for Barnsley three seasons ago. Styles was given a tough time by impressive Reading winger Femi Azeez but contributed on the attack.

Corey O’Keeffe was also a lively presence on the right while, after a tough start, the back three were generally solid and goalkeeper Ben Killip made a key save at 1-0 as he dived to his right to repel a Bindon header.