Analysis from Barnsley's 2-1 win at Fleetwood Town which kept them fourth in League One. Sam Cosgrove and Herbie Kane got the goals.


Barnsley often say ahead of games against teams lower down the division that they will need to win the battle to let their quality come out - and that is exactly what happened here.

Fleetwood were second-bottom and six points adrift of safety while they had the worst home record in the division and the worst defensive record.

But the weather was awful, with strong winds and rain, as was the pitch, while the Cod Army - younger and far less experienced than their visitors - were very pumped-up as they battle relegation under new boss Charlie Adam.

The hosts probably edged a first half in which the Reds did not look comfortable, although they can hardly be blamed for Bosun Lawal’s stunning 25-yard strike into the top right corner to cancel out Sam Cosgrove’s opener.

But Barnsley scored a quality second goal through Herbie Kane and Fleetwood, despite some late pressure, had no chances for 2-2 with all the late opportunities coming at the other end.

Neill Collins was back on the sidelines after his midweek touchline ban and, after a tough start, enjoyed his side’s character-filled performance.

Thanks to a fifth straight win at Fleetwood’s ground, the Reds remained fourth with 60 points, six points off the top two but the gap to seventh grew to six points as they look increasingly likely to finish in at least the play-off places.

This was their ninth away league win of the season, with just one defeat, as they took their tally to 33 points from 16 games - more than two points per match on the road which is sensational form at any level.

They have lost just two of their last 22 league games and scored in their last 19 in all competitions, setting them up nicely for Saturday’s huge game with second-placed Derby County at Oakwell.


There may have been some eyebrows raised when Cosgrove replaced John McAtee in the starting line-up.

But McAtee had not scored for nine games while Cosgrove - who started his fourth league game for the club and first since December 16 against Charlton - was well-suited to the more direct aerial football necessary in such difficult conditions and against a towering home back three.

He opened the scoring by flicking a close-range header into the bottom left corner from an Adam Phillips cross after Jordan Williams collected a left-wing cross and pulled the ball back.

It was a more skilled goal than his bizarre winner against Wycombe in November, meaning he now has scored twice in 24 appearances for the Reds, most of which have been short cameos off the bench.

He offers something different with his size so it was crucial that he gained confidence from this game going into the run-in, and a good selection by Collins.

He could have scored more but must take positives from this game.

Cosgrove also played a part in the winner as he won an aerial challenge from a Mael de Gevigney throw up the right wing then Devante Cole played the key pass to Phillips. With the home defence totally exposed, Phillips picked out Herbie Kane who shot back across the goalkeeper into the bottom right corner. It was the finish of a player full of confidence in front of goal as he netted his ninth of the season.

He is on exceptional form and making match-winning contributions almost every week. He almost made the joint most tackles.


While every Barnsley player played their part in the win, Phillips was man of the match.

It was a local game for the midfielder who is from nearby Garstang.

He supplied two high-quality assists - taking him level with Kane on five - and could have had several more as he put Cosgrove in two one-on-one situations in the first half then produced a wonderful cross for McAtee late on.

Phillips also did excellent defensive work, regularly tracking back to help his team and making the most clearances with seven.

It was an all-round even better performance than the previous week when he netted two late goals to stun Leyton Orient.

Luca Connell returned to the midfield after suspension, with Jon Russell dropping out of the squad, and struggled like many of his team-mates in the first half when the Reds could not find their passing rhythm.

But he made a vital tackle at 1-1 early in the second half, nicking the ball off the feet of Promise Omochere who had surged into the box. It was a crucial moment as Barnsley scored minutes later and the hosts never truly threatened again while Connell screened his defence well.


When Estelle and Kanye West collaborated on the 2008 number one single American Boy, they probably didn’t expect it to sung at Fleetwood Town in the away end by Barnsley fans 16 years later to US international debutant Donovan Pines.

There were also chants of ‘USA! USA!’ from the 1,100-strong Reds crowd and huge cheers on each of the several occasions he headed the ball out of the Barnsley box.

Pines came on instantly after the Reds went 2-1 up and they comfortably kept the hosts at bay. He was dominant in the air but also showed good recovery pace and looked fairly comfortable on the ball.

There will be bigger challenges to come but it was an encouraging start and he will add an aerial prowess and physical presence they have lacked for much of the season.

He came on for Jamie McCart who returned from injury to play in the middle of the back three - with de Gevigney and Josh Earl on the left, three weeks after leaving Fleetwood. They battled through a tough start and could do nothing about the goal.

All three of the starting centre-backs were booked, with de Gevigney collecting his third yellow card in as many games and seventh of the season - meaning three more in the next five games would land him a two-game ban. He also won 11 headers in an impressive performance. Goalkeeper Liam Roberts made one superb save at 1-0.


Jordan Williams finally returned to right wing-back, bringing to an end - at least for now - his difficult spell in the back three.

It was not really a day for playing crossfield passes to the flanks or wide men dribble up the wings, but Williams had a solid match and played a part in the opener.

The Reds generally looked more settled and comfortable with three natural centre-backs in the back three and the five across the middle that did so well for the majority of last season.

Corey O’Keeffe was dropped to the bench after arguably his best game for the club on Tuesday, but was always likely to be the fall guy for Williams’ change in positions and has not got a track record of consistently good performances this season to really complain. O’Keeffe joined Barry Cotter on a right-back heavy bench.

The Reds now have a lot of options across their back line so can rotate to fit the opposition and deal better with absences.