Reds 2 (Cywka 47, O’Grady 53)
Bolton 3 (Ngog 15, Spearing 38, Dawson 60)
Barnsley fought hard against a Bolton outfit littered with top-flight class and did enough to earn something from the match but were undone by a first-half lapse in concentration which saw two goals conceded.
The second half was virtually all Barnsley, with Tomasz Cywka and Chris O’Grady pulling the score level but a Dawson tap-in saw the Trotters claim victory on the hour.
The glorious weather had set the perfect stage for a classic Championship clash at Oakwell between the Reds and Bolton – a fixture which always seems to have proved eventful over the last 16 years.
Although chances were few and far between in the early exchanges, Tunnicliffe saw a vicious strike blocked by Rickett’s face on 10 minutes.
Cywka, Dagnall and O’Grady combined well before O’Brien fired a shot that was blocked away for a corner on 13 minutes.
On 15 minutes David Ngog opened the scoring with a simple tap-in after forcing Steele into a great save. There was nobody in the centre of the Reds’ defence as the former Liverpool striker stood alone to prod home from seven yards.
The Reds responded through O’Brien on 17 minutes as he drove a wicked low shot at Bogdan’s near post from 25 yards but the Hungarian did well to parry out for a corner.
With 27 gone O’Brien’s whipped free-kick from the left caused havoc in the box before falling for Perkins who could only zip over from 25 yards. At the other end Eagles curled a sweet shot from 15 yards towards Steele’s far post and it seemed destined to nestle in the net but Barnsley’s number one expertly tipped the ball away from goal.
Having had nothing to do since the first goal, the second arrived for Bolton as Jay Spearing arrowed a neat half-volley low through a crowd of bodies and into the bottom on 38 minutes but had Martin Cranie's studs to thank for a slight deflection.
Bogdan was in action again immediately after as the Reds responded with a Perkins effort, the ‘keeper tipped Perkins’ 25-yarder away from the top corner. Kennedy’s delivery dropped for Dagnall on 41 minutes but his strike on the turn was deflected over.
Tomasz Cykwa hauled the Tykes back into it barely a minute into the second half with an expertly placed shot that found Bogdan’s bottom left-hand corner. It was the Pole’s second goal in two games having netted a great goal at Bristol City last week.
The wind was now in the Reds’ sails and the crowd certainly responded. O’Brien curled at Bogdan as Flitcroft’s Tykes fought back and on 53 minutes it was two-all. Chris O’Grady pounced onto Bogdan’s spill after the Hungarian failed to handle Tunnicliffe’s 20-yard drive. There was no doubting that this goal was O’Grady’s following last week’s confusion at Ashton Gate and he celebrated in style in front of the Ponty before heading for his manager.
Barnsley’s hard work was undone as Dawson reacted quickest of both sets of players to a spilt free-kick and he smashed home on the hour. Marlon Harewood replaced Chris O’Grady for the Reds.
Incredibly the Reds reacted with O’Brien racing onto a through-ball and found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper but Bogdan tipped his shot away and Dagnall’s header on the rebound was saved by the Hungarian.
At the other end there was a complete mystery as to how the visitors failed to score another when Eagles saw an effort cleared off the line before Wiseman cleared again off the line onto his own man but somehow the Reds cleared over their own bar.
A change for either side came on 65 minutes with the dangerous Eagles replaced by Kamara for Bolton and O’Brien was withdrawn for Mellis. Two minutes later Ryan Tunnicliffe was replaced by Jason Scotland.
Mellis was soon involved after his introduction as he picked up possession from inside and cracked a low shot at goal from 22 yards but Bogdan was equal to it. Not long after Scotland hammered over following a great counter attack which was started by Mellis and Cywka down the left.
Craig Davies’ number was up on 78 minutes as Dougie Freedman bolstered the defence by replacing the forward with David Wheater.
The Reds kept up the pressure but Bolton were taking their time in every way they could. Five minutes of stoppage time was shown.
There wasn’t enough time left for the Reds to claim a point which was what they deserved at the very least.
Reds: Steele, Kennedy, Cranie, Wiseman, Etuhu, Perkins, Tunnicliffe (Scotland 67), Dagnall, O'Grady (Harewood 61), Cywka, O'Brien (Mellis 65).
Subs: Lidakevicius, Hassell, Foster, Noble-Lazarus.
Bolton: Bogdan, Ricketts, Dawson, Knight, Alonso, Spearing, Pratley, Eagles (Kamara 65), Lee, Ngog, C. Davies (Wheater 78).
Subs: Lonergan, K. Davies, De Ridder, Holden.
Referee: Lee Collins.