Analysis from Barnsley's 3-2 win at Carlisle United on Tuesday evening. The bottom club took the lead but the Reds went 3-1 up through Jordan Williams, John McAtee and Jon Russell before a nervous finish.


THE ONLY record Barnsley ultimately care about this season is whether they end it in the Championship, but they created a piece of history near the Scottish border on Tuesday evening.

The Reds equalled a club record run of ten league games unbeaten away in the same season, which was set in the 1938/39 promotion campaign then stretched to 15 games after the Second World War.

It was their 11th away win of the season from 18 games, with just one loss, and took them to 39 points on the road - with the club records of 12 and 41 well within reach.

They boast the best away record in League One - only Leicester City have more points on the road in the EFL - while they have already passed last season’s away points and goals tallies with five matches left.

At clubs placed 12th or below, Barnsley have won ten and drawn one - at Shrewsbury last month - while scoring 27 goals.

The next away match is a rather different challenge at the other end of the country and league table when they visit leaders Portsmouth next week. They then go to bottom half sides Burton Albion and Charlton Athletic then play-off hopefuls Stevenage and Blackpool before the end of the season.

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It is their away form that is keeping them in the top two hunt, as their Oakwell record is distinctly mid-table – partly due to hosting the top teams in the early months when not at their best and then some recent wobbles. Perhaps there is more pressure at home, or their counter-attacking style is better-suited to being the away team, but they have 31 points at Oakwell and 39 away from one game fewer.

They recorded another away win for the 813 fans who made the long midweek trip to Cumbria as Barnsley played at Brunton Park for the first time since 1985 and won there for the first time in eight attempts since 1954.

The last time they won at Carlisle was the same day that the first Burger King restaurant opened, and it would have been a whopper of a bad result had the promotion-chasers not taken three points at the bottom club.

Carlisle are 16 points adrift of safety and ten below the second-bottom team with 27 to play for, so could be relegated this month. They have lost 11 of their last 12 games and have the worst defensive record in the division.

Barnsley made hard work of it, and there were familiar problems, but they just needed to win after their weekend hammering by Lincoln.

They were without the spine of their team due to Liam Roberts and Donovan Pines’ injuries, Herbie Kane’s suspension and Devante Cole being dropped.

They again showed character, coming from behind to win for the seventh time in 19 games. They have the most points from losing positions in the division - and the second most in the EFL behind Ipswich - with 25 which is more than Carlisle have in total.


Barnsley had their destiny, in terms of finishing in the top two, wrenched out of their hands by both Bolton’s agonising late leveller then the 5-1 humbling by Lincoln on Saturday. But this win kept them within five points of second with a game in hand on all the top three - unquestionably still in the fight.

It also moved them onto 70 points, with 27 left to play for. They may well need a tally in the 90s to compete for the top two which would require seven wins from the last nine games - a very tough assignment.

Their first target must be to beat Cheltenham Town - another team in the relegation zone but with a more realistic survival chance than Carlisle - at home on Saturday when Derby play Bolton, and go into their trip to Fratton Park still in contention for second.

Obviously they need to play much better than they did at Carlisle - where they started very badly and finished nervously after taking control - but they got the job done in the Cumbrian rain.

They equalled the unbeaten away record days after setting a record for the heaviest home loss in the third tier, but now need to stop lurching from extremes and find some consistency again.

The defending is clearly an issue, they have let in nine goals in the last three games and kept just one clean sheet in 20. They are mitigating that slightly by scoring in 24 consecutive games, but it could be fatal problem for their top two push if they do not tighten up at the back.


For 32 minutes, Barnsley were poor. They allowed Carlisle to net at home in the first half of a league game for the first time since the opening day of the season – a wait of 17 matches.

It was the eighth time in 12 games the Reds had gone behind in the opening 20 minutes – a recurring problem for which there currently is no remedy. The Reds were generally sluggish and off the pace, looking like they had not recovered from the weekend thrashing.

But, suddenly, Jordan Williams let fly from 25 yards and the ball was in the back of the home net.

It was a captain’s moment, stepping up to change the course of a game out of nowhere. After that, the Reds were on top, looked far more confident and should have won the game at a canter.

It was also Williams’ first goal for 59 games, most of which have been at centre-back, since netting at Cheltenham 13 months ago.

That was despite being moved from right wing-back back into the back three with Pines injured and Jamie McCart deemed unable to start a second game in four days after returning from injury.

Williams was at fault for Carlisle’s second goal but had produced the crucial match-changing moment.

The first goal saw Mael de Gevigney, who has had a difficult week, lose a header in the middle of the back three which Pines would almost certainly have won.

Clearly they are not at their best defensively but they did withstand pressure right at the end with a succession of set pieces dealt with.

Goalkeeper Ben Killip – in for the injured Roberts – made his first start since December and could do little about either goal while he was barely tested otherwise.


Luca Connell was outstanding. He completed 89 per cent of his passes, despite constantly going forward and attempting ambitious balls, while eight were ‘key passes’ which led to a shot or chance.

He finally registered a goal contribution this season, with an assist because he passed to Williams for the equaliser, but his throughball for the second goal was more eye-catching.

It has been a difficult season for Connell after his long illness lay-off which meant he had to come into the team midway through the campaign and catch up with his fitness. But this week he has shown glimpses of being back to his best.

He had a different role in Carlisle, playing in a midfield two with Jon Russell who patrolled in front of the defence so Connell could go forward and terrorise the hosts with his movement, energy and passing.

Russell – perhaps a surprise choice to replace Kane over Conor Grant who has impressed off the bench recently – had a difficult first half and can look cumbersome at times. But he improved significantly, while his height was crucial for both the third goal and several vital clearing headers in his box.

Russell’s goal was set up by a fine Corey O’Keeffe cross. It was the wing-back’s sixth assist of the season – the most of any Barnsley player – and his second of the week. O’Keeffe, who replaced McCart in the 11, has been in and out of the team recently but still is on by far his best form of an indifferent season.


Top-scorer Cole was dropped to the bench for the first time this season, after a seven-game goalless run, and replaced by Sam Cosgrove.

Collins said it was to give Cole a rest and a chance to get back to his best. He had produced, along with other players, a few sub-par performances recently with Charlton’s Alfie May charging away from him in the race for the golden boot. Cole will undoubtedly still have a massive part to play this season but the changed worked for this game.

This was probably Cosgrove’s best game for the Reds. Returning to the club where he rekindled his career after considering leaving the sport in 2017, he was a nuisance for the home defence with his physicality and movement. He brilliantly assisted the second goal and was unlucky not to score himself.

Cosgrove played up front, with John McAtee and Adam Phillips either side of him as wide attacking midfielders.

McAtee still got into very good striker’s positions and took one of his three big chances, leaving him with two goals in three games after 11 without scoring.

Phillips was involved in the build-up to the first two goals and created other chances.