Blackburn Rovers 2 (Rhodes 45, Gomes 85)
Barnsley 1 (Mellis 31)
After a completely dominant display from Barnsley, leaving the home fans jeering their team and vying for their own manager to be ‘sent off’, the Reds found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 score-line at Ewood Park. It was simply a case of ‘you had to be there’ to witness Barnsley’s, not only brave, but creative display against the recently relegated club.
Mellis was gifted a chance on four minutes but was thwarted by Robinson when one-on-one. Davies capitalised but was blocked by a great challenge from Dann. It was a glorious opening for the Reds so early on and would be lucky to have another chance of a similar nature.
But for the next five minutes, Barnsley bossed proceedings and Dagnall was almost away into the box but for a late flag. Barnsley worked their way up to the edge of Rovers’ box on 11 minutes but Cywka’s drive drifted wide. It was certainly an encouraging start from Barnsley.
The hosts’ first chance didn’t come until the 18th minute when Rhodes caught Foster in possession, the £8million man found the angle too acute, though, with his low effort going wide.
A break in play came moments later when Dagnall and Robinson both went into a 50-50 for Golbourne’s delicious cross as Barnsley went on the offensive yet again. At the other end Rochina sent in a warning shot from distance but Alnwick was more than comfortable in gathering the ball.
Barnsley were all over their opponents with Cywka making a mockery of the Rovers midfield before feeding Davies but his strike was straight at Robinson when fairly well positioned on 24 minutes.
The Reds goalkeeper was tested properly on the half-hour mark from Olsson’s vicious strike after a driving run down the left.
Finally Barnsley got the goal they deserved on 31 minutes and in in thunderous fashion from Jacob Mellis. Dagnall flicked a sumptuous pass into the path of Mellis who absolutely lashed into the near post of Robinson, giving the former England man no chance.
Keith Hill’s side were just too much for Blackburn and John Stones showed just why his manager rates him so well with a wonderful turn on the edge of the box before keeping possession. Etuhu was probably lucky to only see yellow after his late challenge on the England Under-19 international, leaving him in a heap on the deck.
Blackburn found an equaliser and it was totally against the run of play. A free-kick was floated in and found its way to Rhodes, who just doesn’t miss from ten yards out as he lofted over Alnwick for an undeserved equaliser.
The rain came hammering down as the second half resumed and Barnsley’s faithful were hoping for more of the same from their team. Rochina boasted the first shot of the second period with a sweeping strike that landed on the roof of Alnwick’s net.
It was pretty much more of the same from Barnsley, showing absolutely no fear in possession. Four minutes past the hour, Davies was replaced by Harewood in attack as Barnsley pressed for a winner.
The hosts responded with a move from their bench – Gomes came on for Rochina. Cywka then went on a splendid run down the left but his pull-back fell behind the run of Harewood who looked certain for a goal.
The travelling faithful rewarded the hard working Dagnall with a standing ovation as his number came up on the substitutes’ board, coming on for him was Keilvin Etuhu with little over 20 minutes remaining.
Another glorious opportunity came the way of Barnsley when a shocking backpass was sent into the path of Harewood but the frontman blasted his shot wide when it could have so easily been 2-1.
Ben Alnwick did well to get a strong hand to Rhodes’ low drive on 78 minutes as Blackburn proved that, despite being the second best team, they could still claim maximum points.
Patience was key once more as Kelvin Etuhu drove wide from 20 yards following neat build-up play down the left with Cywka and Golbourne.
Just as you would expect – Blackburn found a winner. Against the run of play? Not half. Blackburn had been taught a lesson in football but Nuno Gomes pounced onto Olsson’s cross for a tap in on 85 minutes. And what a bizarre atmosphere it was, the Blackburn fans were cheering for their own manager to be sent off when Scott Mathieson had words with Kean but were soon chanting ‘top of the league’ after they had scored.
The Reds were handed three minutes of stoppage time but couldn’t break through. Just ask the travelling hundreds if you find it hard to believe that Barnsley outplayed the big spenders, because it happened.
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Orr, M. Olsson, Formica (Lowe) 90+1, Rhodes, Pedersen (Nunes 80), Murphy, Dann, Etuhu, Rochina (Gomes 66), Hanley.
Subs: Kean, Dunn, Henrique, Ribero.
Reds: Alnwick, Stones (Perkins 73), Foster, Wiseman, Golbourne, Mellis, Cywka, Dawson, Cranie, Dagnall (Etuhu 70), Davies (Harewood 65).
Subs: Steele, Digby, Done, Noble-Lazarus.
Referee: S. Mathieson