Analysis of Barnsley's 3-2 defeat at Blackpool. The hosts raced 3-0 up before John McAtee and Adam Phillips replied.


YOU COULD not watch this game and not think that there is something quite badly wrong at Barnsley right now.

The players, for most of the match, looked ‘gone’ - physically and mentally - as they deservedly slumped to another defeat which imperilled their promotion chances further.

Many occupants of the sold-out away end, dressed in the traditional end of season fancy dress on their party weekend in Blackpool, were left very angry. Bananas went bananas alongside apoplectic Oompa Loompahs and seething Super Marios.

The often-heard chants about Neill Collins’ style of play began at 1-0, calls for him to be sacked followed at 2-0 and were repeated after the final whistle while the head coach was loudly booed as he applauded the away end at full-time.

The last time the Reds played at Bloomfield Road in the league, the fans turned on Markus Schopp in September 2021. This felt very similar despite Barnsley still being still in a promotion chase, albeit one they look increasingly unlikely to win.

Schopp lasted another month, while Collins’ future is potentially uncertain especially if they miss out on the top six.

Although he has been given little help by those above at times, and had bad luck with injuries, he is clearly unpopular with many fans and badly struggling to get results and performances out of his team who must also take some blame for this alarming slide.

Barnsley’s points cushion in the top six, once ten points, was reduced to one with Blackpool one of three clubs who could catch them on a nerve-jangling final day.

Anything can happen but it is hard to be very confident that Barnsley will get the win they need over Northampton next week to guarantee a play-off place.

The Reds have taken nine points from their last 11 games - form across a quarter of a season which is more consistent with last place than top six - and one from their most recent five. No League One side has fewer points from the last eight games than Barnsley with five.

This was a fourth successive away loss, having set a club record for most points on the road. The form on their travels masked the home issues for so long but has now also collapsed.


Collins said pre-match this was Blackpool’s cup final and, while the the hosts played like a major trophy was on the line, the Reds looked like they had turned up for a casual kickabout.

The visitors defended very badly again, as Blackpool could have scored several more goals, and barely created a chance until they were 3-0 down - with aimless long balls booed by the away end.

Whereas Barnsley made the long trip to Portsmouth in midweek, then suffered a draining defeat despite performing very well, Blackpool had not played for a week. The Reds kept the same team and fears that they would be run ragged by fresher opponents were realised within minutes.

Devante Cole could have put Barnsley in front after 25 seconds but took a heavy touch in the box, then they were abject for the next hour in a very one-sided contest.

Blackpool had by far the more confident and effective attackers such as Karamoko Dembele, who assisted the first two goals, scorers Hayden Coulson and Sonny Carey as well as former Shaw Lane Aquaforce striker Jake Beesley who all terrorised their flat-footed, lacklustre visitors.

The Seasiders had only scored four goals in their last eight matches but netted three times in 47 minutes as they secured a fourth straight win.

They are unbeaten in 12 league games at home since November and have one of the best home records in the division.

They have won the last five meetings with Barnsley, including three this season.


The Reds have conceded the most goals in the top half of the table with 63. The last team that let in more than that and finished in League One’s top six was Peterborough in 2011.

They were far too passive and easy to play through for the first and third goals as well as other chances, while the second was another set piece malfunction.

Barnsley could not get on the ball enough to avoid the constant home attacks, with defensive midfielders Luca Connell and Jon Russell injured while Herbie Kane was nowhere near as effective as in Portsmouth in midweek. Their defence is their weakest point so they must play on the front foot, be attacking and take the pressure off the back line. None of that happened, with far too many players way off their best.

Then once again there were individual and collective mistakes at the back, which are currently destroying their promotion chances.

Goalkeeper Liam Roberts continued his questionable run of performances. He lost the ball twice to Beesley in the box in the first four minutes but was not punished -

getting away with a possible penalty after dropping a risky Adam Phillips back header. He then conceded the opening goal from a shot he would normally keep out. Nicky Cadden was guilty of poor clearances and giving away free-kicks in dangerous areas.

Barnsley should have been further behind at the midway point of the first half but then seemed to have calmed the game down somewhat, if still not attacking, before conceding a killer second on the stroke of half-time with their naivety again exposed.

It was an almost identical goal to those netted by Reading and Portsmouth in the previous week - a free header from about six yards out off a right-sided set piece.

The Reds had actually dealt with set pieces fairly well in the first half, defending a remarkable six corners in the first ten minutes, but yet again left an opponent unmarked to nod in.

It is a major problem which has emerged in recent weeks and is killing their chances of collecting points. Serious work on the training ground is needed this week.

The Reds also struggled often to pass out from the back, with Jordan Williams rolling the ball straight past Barry Cotter and out at one point in front of the exasperated away fans.

Mael de Gevigney deserves some credit as an individual. He won nine headers, made ten clearances and five blocks including several which looked almost certain goals from close range.

Josh Earl played a part in both Reds goals but also in Blackpool’s second while he and Williams, plus the wing-backs, were opened up too easily at times.


Although their poor performances are the main problem, the Reds are also getting very little from referees at the moment.

Their only real attack in the first half was an appeal for a penalty on Cotter who tangled with James Husband seconds after the opening goal. Referee Sunny Gill waved away the protests in what would become a familiar gesture throughout the afternoon.

Collins said the Reds should have had a penalty for handball at 3-1 and another for a foul on Fabio Jalo at 3-2 in the final seconds after CJ Hamilton looked to pull the teenager down.

It must also be added that Gill seemed to miss a clear foul on Beesley by Roberts in the opening minutes in the box.

On 78 minutes, Sam Cosgrove’s header from Aiden Marsh’s excellent cross was brilliantly clawed out by Daniel Grimshaw who also repelled Jalo’s effort but pictures appeared to show it crossed the line. The referee seemed to give a goal but then awarded a free-kick for handball.


Barnsley restored a modicum of pride in the final half an hour with some good substitute performances which lifted the team collectively against a home side who knew they would win.

Cosgrove - who had not played in the previous two games - came on at the break for Conor Grant who started for the second time in four days after no previous starts in 2024, looking off the pace.

Cosgrove won headers for John McAtee’s 3-1 goal and the penalty shout for Jalo who again made a big impact off the bench.

Marsh - on for the ineffective Cole - also looked lively, sending in a fine cross and playing a part in the second goal.

All of them - as well as the often overlooked Corey O’Keeffe - made a claim to start against Northampton, but it is far easier to impress when a game’s result is all-but certain and what has come before is so bad.

McAtee played well in the second half and deservedly scored while Phillips finished a mixed afternoon with another goal.

Barnsley’s last half an hour was much better as they netted twice last past a side who had kept four clean sheets. But it did not add any gloss to a rotten performance overall.