Analysis from Barnsley's 5-1 thrashing at home to Lincoln City.


OAKWELL has seen more than 500 games in the third tier in the 26 seasons that Barnsley have been at that level but never witnessed as heavy defeat as the one inflicted on Saturday.

While it has to be placed within the context of a very good season overall, which could still end up being a great one, this was a humiliating afternoon for the Reds.

Lincoln were excellent while almost every Barnsley outfielder delivered one of their worst performances of the season.

Perhaps they were due a thrashing at some point - their goalkeeper has had to make the most saves per game, they consistently fall behind, and they rely on almost the same players week in week out.

But it was still shocking to see the resilience and character they have shown for most of the season, especially in the run of two defeats in 25, evaporate in an abject second half.

By the end, the few home fans left among thousands of empty seats, roared with sarcastic laughter when the man of the match announcement started on the loudspeaker.

Barnsley went behind in the first 20 minutes for the seventh time in 11 games but were the better side between then and 55 minutes, missing big chances to level.

The Reds seemed to capitulate after conceding two terrible goals just before the hour.

The Imps had not played for a week while Barnsley had an intense battle with top two rivals Bolton on Tuesday, conceding a 98th-minute equaliser.

The hosts had two thirds of possession, touched and passed the ball 300 times more each than their visitors, but lost 5-1.

It was heaviest home defeat since a 5-1 thrashing by Watford in the Championship in September 2013 and the worst anywhere since a loss by the same scoreline at Crawley just over a decade ago. Those were struggling Reds teams but this side is expected to challenge for the top two. Not even during the disastrous 2021/22 relegation season were they embarrassed by a scoreline like this.


The Reds dropped down a place to fifth and the gap to second grew to five points, while the cushion to seventh reduced to seven.

But, with games in hand on the top three, that is a generally very positive position going into the final ten games. Most fans and Oakwell employees would have been satisfied with that during the turbulent last summer.

In terms of the table, the result should not be a terminal blow to their top two ambitions - although clearly it is damaging. It is not like the 0-0 draw in Lincoln last April which realistically ended their top two chances.

But there may be some confidence and psychological issues following such a heavy defeat, coming days after conceding a last-gasp equaliser to Bolton when they looked set to go level on points with second.

It is also worrying that they have kept just one clean sheet in 19 games.


Barnsley’s strikers Devante Cole and John McAtee, who have both found goals hard to come by recently, looked flat-footed at times, taking poor touches in good positions in the Imps box, while they struggled to hold the ball up or press the

visitors who went direct.

Adam Phillips eventually netted a fifth goal in four home games but missed a huge chance to level at 1-1 early in the second half.

Herbie Kane received a tenth booking of the season - apparently for dissent and earning a two game ban - then was taken off eight minutes into the second half along with McAtee at 1-0. It was a surprising switch but it is unlikely that keeping them on would have made much difference.

Luca Connell looked, in the first half, much more like the player of last season - zipping around the pitch playing clever passes - but will be disappointed he couldn’t stop the second goal. So will Mael de Gevigney who had probably his worst game since his horror full debut as he was beaten too easily for three of the goals.

Josh Earl lost the ball for the second, following his late penalty foul against Bolton and two errors at Wycombe - a tough week after a nice honeymoon period for the January signing.

Nicky Cadden beat Lasse Sorensen several times with good skill in the first half but the crucial moment saw him unable to track the Dane’s run to assist the opener. The second goal was the fault of the other wing-back Jordan Williams who gave the ball away cheaply as he was doing regularly at centre-back before moving back to the right wing.

Corey O’Keeffe came on and registered a fifth assist of the season, making a case for a start.

Jamie McCart came into the 11 for the injured Donovan Pines in the middle of the defence and Collins said he was the only player who performed well. McCart made just his second appearance since New Year’s Day.

Liam Roberts kept the score down with some good saves.


This result meant only bottom four sides Carlisle and Fleetwood had conceded more home goals in League One than the Reds with 28.

They have the tenth best home record in the division with 31 points from 18 games, with this being their sixth defeat there.

They have improved since the four early losses in August and September to promotion rivals, but have also been turned over by Exeter and now Lincoln.

After taking four points from the much-hyped home games with top three sides Derby and Bolton, they were exposed by a team with slimmer promotion hopes.

Barnsley now host Cheltenham, Cambridge and Reading – all of whom are in the relegation battle to some extent – then welcome mid-table Northampton Town on the final day of the season, April 27. They are likely to need 12 points from 12 to have a chance of the top two, while continuing their remarkable away form.


Lincoln have not lost in ten league meetings with the Reds since 1973, winning seven and drawing three while they have won their last five league games at Oakwell.

Lincoln are certainly a bogey side for Barnsley. When the Reds drew 2-2 at Sincil Bank in November, they dropped out of play-offs to eighth, hadn’t won in a month in the league while they had been kicked out of FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player and thumped 5-1 at Bradford in the EFL Trophy, plus there were some negative chants toward Neill Collins. Last season Lincoln won 1-0 at Oakwell during a four-game goalless run for Michael Duff’s side.

This time they arrived as one of the form teams in the division, unbeaten in ten, while only leaders Portsmouth had conceded fewer goals than Lincoln who had let in just two in their last nine games, with clean sheets in the last four.

This result kept their slim chances of the play-offs alive.

Lincoln are consistently one of youngest teams in League One as they attempt to follow a familiar route to Barnsley and recruit future talent. Their 11 averaged 23 in age compared to 25 for the Reds while they had made just 14 appearances combined above League One level. Their scorers were a loanee, two signings from Ireland and an academy product.

They seem to have unearthed some gems particularly Jack Moylan who came on at half-time and scored twice in a sensational display.

Their manager Michael Skubala showed good tactics - surprising the Reds with three up front in the first half then returning to the usual 3-5-2 at the break.