Analysis of Barnsley's 2-1 loss at Charlton Athletic. Alfie May netted twice in the first half either side of an Adam Phillips penalty.


This match took place just a couple of miles from where Barnsley boxer Callum Simpson secured his latest knock-out victory at the 02 arena six days earlier.

Across the Borough of Greenwich at The Valley, Barnsley’s top two hopes, which had been on the verge of a stoppage for weeks after several painful body shots, were finally splattered all over the canvas.

For automatic promotion, they would need to win all their remaining games and hope the three teams above them all falter which is stretching credulity for even the most optimistic observer.

Now they must stagger punchdrunk into the play-offs places. Oxford and Lincoln, in sixth and seventh, are on better form than the Reds who have taken eight points from seven games, but they play each other next week so they cannot both finish on more than 79 points. That means the Reds need just six more from five games to guarantee a play-off place - surely achievable even in their poor form.

But they need a strong finish anyway to go into the play-off games with momentum.

This was Barnsley’s second away league defeat of the season and their first in 148 days since a 3-0 loss at Derby on November 11 - after which they set a club record 11-game unbeaten run, winning the previous four.

Neill Collins seems to be desperately searching for the magic formula, dropping his key lieutenants one by one - with Herbie Kane the latest to be benched after Devante Cole and Jordan Williams - and constantly tweaking the front line.

The ability to consistently edge close games despite unconvincing performances appears to have deserted them.

The Reds’ first half performance was one of the best in recent weeks, as they played good football and created several chances. But their finishing and defending let them down badly then, after finding themselves 2-1 down at the break, they were poor in the second half.

In contrast, Charlton have moved ten points clear of relegation trouble with an 11-game unbeaten run and, with good players such as two-goal Alfie May and a manager like Nathan Jones, could be a real force in the division for Barnsley to compete with next season if they do not go up. The Reds have now lost their last four games at The Valley.


In the two games in which Benjamin Speedie has refereed Barnsley, he infuriated them by not giving penalties then sent off a Reds coach.

Last season Michael Duff was dismissed at home to Fleetwood for his reaction to a penalty claim being waved away, and this time it was Neill Collins’ assistant Jon Stead following two strong spot-kick claims denied then a injury-time equaliser being ruled out.

Fabio Jalo looked to have salvaged a point when he latched onto a Luca Connell pass and volleyed in what would have been his first league goal, in his first action for almost three months due to injury.

But the lively 18-year-old substitute was given offside, with Barnsley insisting he was two yards on. Replays showed he was level with Karoy Anderson.

Earlier in the match, both Devante Cole and John McAtee were brought down in the box when set to shoot after impressive team moves.

For Charlton’s second goal, May appeared to be in an offside position.

While they did not help themselves with elements of their performance, Barnsley were also hard done by by the officials.


Barnsley did get one penalty to equalise.

Kayne Ramsay - who looked almost certain to sign for the Reds at the start of last season before the deal broke down late on - blatantly used his arm to block a cross by Adam Phillips after a good one, two with Josh Earl.

With usual penalty-taker Kane benched, it was unclear who would take it but Luca Connell grabbed the ball, ran to the dugout and came back to give it to Phillips.

He had missed his only previous Barnsley penalty at Forest Green Rovers - almost exactly a year ago - before scoring the rebound, but this time clinically found the bottom left corner past his former Reds team-mate Harry Isted for his eighth of the season.

Phillips - who came in for Corey O’Keeffe - was one of the best players on the pitch, and should have had at least one assist following his goal.

Jon Russell was preferred to Kane who was on the bench for the first time since Morecambe away last season. It was not a huge surprise as he had been taken off early a few times recently and his form had dipped after a very good season overall. Russell played reasonably well and was involved in the build-up to several chances.


For much of this season, May was one of several strikers who could not seem to catch Devante Cole at the top of the League One scoring charts.

But May has now stormed well clear with 23 while Cole remains on 17 after not netting in 12 games across more than two months.

Their current form was summed up in this game as May - who had not netted or won in five meetings with the Reds - scored two fine goals while Cole missed chances.

He looked set to tap in three yards out from a Phillips cross when Barnsley had just levelled and were in position to take control of the game, but the ball went over and it later transpired that the defender had got a crucial touch. He also headed way off target from another Phillips cross at 2-1.

Cole and McAtee returned up front with Sam Cosgrove dropped to the bench, despite playing quite well on Monday at Burton. Cosgrove had one of his worst games for the club when he came on, firing one pass straight out of play then sending another to Anneke who was clean through but denied by Roberts.


May’s goals were fine finishes but could have been prevented.

His 20th-minute free-kick, which was Charlton’s first shot, was expertly curled in but he took advantage of an inexplicable gap in the wall between Nicky Cadden and Mael de Gevigney. It is usually a goalkeeper’s job to set up the wall so it may be that Liam Roberts thought, wrongly, that he could save any shot which went through that gap.

For the second goal, George Dobson’s dummy from Macauley Gillesphey’s pass wrong-footed de Gevigney who could only touch the ball to May, who was offside when the pass was played. May rounded Jamie McCart easily and found the top right corner from 15 yards.

Charlton barely had any chances other than those goals in the first half but could have scored several more after the break as there were huge gaps in the Reds defence.

Barnsley are consistently conceding poor goals through either individual or collective errors which is deeply worrying at the business end of the season.

The current back three are yet to turn into a convincing unit, while the starting wing-backs often lacked quality in attack - other than one fine Jordan Williams pass for the McAtee penalty appeal - while struggling defensively at times.

There was another penalty in injury-time when Roberts received a strange looping back pass from McCart then took a clumsy touch before tripping Tyreece Campbell.

Roberts dived to his left to impressively keep Chuks Anneke’s spot-kick out of his bottom left corner.

It was his second successive penalty save after a very similar stop against Bolton only for the rebound to be scored - two injury-time penalty saves with almost nothing to show for it.