Analysis of Barnsley's 2-2 home draw with Reading. The visitors took the lead twice but Adam Phillips and Fabio Jalo levelled.


A PLAYER who was less than a year old when Barnsley won the League One play-offs for the first time in 2006 took them one tentative, shaky step closer to finishing in the top six again this time.

Fabio Jalo has been talked about as a future superstar for a while, and interest from the Premier League as well as regular appearances for Portugal under 19s back up training ground testimony of his immense potential.

But, despite scoring three cup goals, the 18-year-old had yet to make a major impact in the EFL - until this game.

A header from a long throw was probably not the first league goal anyone expected from the twinkle-toed forward with a powerful shot who is well under six foot, but it was a big moment that must fill him with confidence. It had been coming, with a goal controversially ruled out at Charlton a week previous in his first club game in three months due to injury.

Jalo almost won it with a second goal in a few minutes but smashed a shot off the post from the left of the box.

He was Barnsley’s best player late on, producing some clever passes and moments of skill.

Jalo also excelled in the away game at Reading and will have to reproduce this performance against less open and attacking teams. But it was a very encouraging display and by far the longest spell he had on the pitch for Barnsley’s first team as he has often been brought on for late cameos.

He came on on 34 minutes for the injured defensive midfielder Jon Russell and played as a number ten behind the strikers - a very attacking move by Neill Collins which paid off.

The goal came from a long throw by Barry Cotter, another substitute. But there was frustration that Collins removed Corey O’Keeffe - who provided some impetus in attack - for centre-back Jamie McCart at 1-1.


Sections of the home crowd were chanting ‘Neill Collins your football is s***’ immediately after Jalo’s equaliser, with the head coach standing still - having just celebrated and shouted towards the West Stand when the goal went in.

It was his 50th match in charge but his relationship with some of the fans is still fractious.

The mood after that was more positive as the Reds went in search of a victory, but instead their winless home run extended to five games.

Although there were some positives - mainly coming from behind twice plus a few good individual displays - this was another unconvincing performance from Barnsley.

It was an entertaining game - the Reds had 23 shots, and Reading 22 - but the hosts conceded two poor goals, were second best in the first half then improved after the break although they still could have conceded several more goals.

Reading - a crisis club off the pitch having been deducted six points - essentially secured their safety with this point.

They had one of the worst away records in the division with just four wins and 17 points from 21 games while they had conceded the most goals on the road.

The average age of their 11 was 23 while their substitutes were 21 or 20 other than 35-year-old former Barnsley goalkeeper David Button, who came on at half-time due to Joel Pereira’s head injury.

But the Royals remain unbeaten at Oakwell in 11 visits since 1998.

For much of the game, they played with freedom while the Reds looked anxious and under-pressure.


Barnsley have taken nine points from their last nine games, conceding 18 goals.

If they continue collecting a point per game for the rest of the season they will have enough for the play-offs. They may already have a sufficient total if sides below them falter but it is getting increasingly tense with a Tuesday trip to Portsmouth - who need a point for promotion and the title - then Blackpool who are excellent at home and in top six contention. Those are games at two of the best home sides in the division before the Reds finish at home to Northampton.

Barnsley should still do it but it is barely believable that they have gone from chasing the top two to hanging on to fifth or sixth in about a month.

There was some good news from elsewhere.

Charlie Hughes already made a contribution to Barnsley’s season, being sent off for Wigan in a vital August win for an underperforming Reds side.

He did so again on Saturday as his 90th-minute winner at Lincoln ended the Imps’ long unbeaten run and kept them seven points behind the Reds.

Blackpool moved into seventh place, five points off Barnsley with two games left - one of which is at home to the Reds on Saturday.


The Reds started the game fairly well but, after the first ten minutes or so, began to look very nervous and lose the ball in their half.

Josh Earl had a very difficult game, especially early on as he was beaten several times by the excellent Femi Azeez while also giving the ball away regularly in his half including for the build-up to the opener.

Mael de Gevigney, as has happened often this season, was beaten by fast attackers defending one-on-one in his box while Jordan Williams - back in the back three for McCart to combat Reading’s pacy attack - struggled from set pieces again.

Goalkeeper Liam Roberts had a very mixed match as he made three fine first half saves but again his kicking was sloppy and he could have saved the second Reading goal.

The sight of two Reading players being unmarked six yards out from a corner for the opener then Cotter running away from Lewis Wing before he scored the second were baffling.

Barnsley are making far too many defensive errors.


The two goals meant Barnsley had scored 16 headers this season, the most in the division.

Phillips’ equaliser was his third in as many games - all between 28 and 30 minutes.

It was his tenth goal of the season, and fourth with his head. He is a superb attacking talent.

After Jalo replaced Russell, Phillips went into a central two with Herbie Kane which restricted his ability to make late runs into the penalty area.

Kane had returned to the 11 after being benched for the last two games, in place of the injured Luca Connell, and was solid if unspectacular.

The assist for Phillips’ goal came from John McAtee who created several other chances and was easily Barnsley's best player before the break.

Devante Cole replaced Sam Cosgrove up front and stretched his goalless run to 14 games, missing a big chance at 1-1. But he did impressively chase a lost cause and keep the ball in in the build-up to Phillips' goal.