Barnsley 1 (Mellis 50, Hassell s/o 53)
Bristol City 0
The Reds should have been out of sight by half time – on the horizon galloping into the sun with three points in the bag. Although maximum reward was claimed thanks to Jacob Mellis’ header, a first red card for Bobby Hassell in his Barnsley career meant Hill’s troops had to battle for 45 minutes in the second half with ten men; and what a battle it was.
A second-half direct barrage did take place as the visitors searched for an equaliser but a superb defensive display, inspired by substitute John Stones and his goal-line clearance, meant Hill's brave men deservedly took all the points.
It did take a while for the Tykes to get into gear following Baldock shooting over from a short corner on four minutes prior to Stead’s deflected strike being stopped by Alnwick.
On 10 minutes the City woodwork was rattled as Craig Davies cut in from the left, taking on Cywka’s pass before unleashing a rifled drive onto the far post.
As the hosts turned up the heat Dagnall went close as he forced Heaton into a good save with a thunderous drive from the edge of a box.
A routine save for Heaton came on 23 minutes but it wasn’t long before the former Manchester United man was in action again. Cywka sent in a delicious delivery onto the head of Davies and his downward header seemed destined for the bottom corner but Heaton scrambled across his line to parry wide.
As the clock ticked past the half-hour mark Barnsley were really taking the game to City with great drive and creativity. Mellis burst forward and exchanged passes with Dawson before thumping just wide of the post.
In the dying seconds Mark Wilson did threaten the Barnsley goal with a deflected effort that flashed wide but it was his side who were lucky to be level.
Five minutes into the second period and the Reds found that deserved goal and in great fashion. Davies did well to spread play down the right into the path of Cranie who sent a spectacular cross for Mellis and his header hammered the bar and into the roof of the net.
But a huge blow was dealt moments later as Bobby Hassell was dismissed for a late challenge that left Keith Hill with a midfield headache considering the Reds man had been marshalling the centre of the park so well.
Baldock thumped straight at Alnwick following a goal-mouth scramble as the Reds were looking to simply shut up shop.
Shortly after a double reds substitution with Stones and Harewood replacing Davies and Mellis, Stead turned well only to scoop over from barely eight yards.
Stead then thought he had the ball in the net on 66 minutes when he flicked over the onrushing Anwick only for John Stones to appear from nowhere and clear from under the crossbar.
Davies almost nodded an equaliser moments after his introduction when he latched onto a sweeping cross into the box.
As expected City pinned the Reds into their own half and Hill’s troopd were battling hard and hoping for a breather or outlet in Cywka or Dagnall.
With ten minutes to play Davies again spurned a glorious chance, heading inches wide from eight yards.
The visitors were just pumping the ball into the box and hoping it would fall kindly but Barnsley were standing strong.
Stones worked wonders on 87 minutes to intercept and gallop forward before delivering for Harewood. The big man just couldn’t get a strong enough connection as Carey came back to clear off the line.
Ben Alnwick was called into proper action for probably the first time of the second half but what a save it was. Davies bent a super free-kick in with real venom only for Alnwick to palm onto the bar. In the scramble that ensued Stephen Foster received treatment to head wound before rushing back on bandaged up.
Oakwell was on its feet and in full voice. It was a tremendous atmosphere as the Reds faithful roared their warriors on to all three points. Harewood could have added another but for a neat Heaton save but one goal was enough. What a win.
Barnsley: Alnwick, Cranie, Hassell, Golbourne, Wiseman (c), Foster, Dawson, Mellis (Stones 61), Cywka, Dagnall, Davies (Harewood 62).
Subs: Lidakevicius, Rose, Etuhu, Stones, Collins, Noble-Lazarus.
Bristol City: Heaton, Baldock (Taylor 68), Louis Carey, Pearson (Davies 72), Stead, Skuse, Adomah (Elliott 46), Fontaine (c), Woolford, Cunningham, Wilson.
Subs: Lewis Carey, Morris, Nyatanga, Anderson.
Referee: Steve Rushton
Assistant Referees: Steve Copeland & Barry Gordon
Fourth Official: Chris Akers