A stunning performance from the Reds on their return to Sky Bet Championship action at Oakwell was rewarded with a superb three points.
Conor Hourihane set the ball rolling in the first half with a powerful effort from the edge of the box after good work from Kent to set him up. The Reds Captain’s left-footed drive rebounded off the post, hit the stranded Carson on the back and went over the line.
In the second half, it was Hourihane again who was the creator as his cross from a free-kick in a wide area was turned home by Alfie Mawson to make it 2-0. The Reds were in control then for the rest of the match, but did need the help of ‘keeper Adam Davies on a couple of occasions to keep the clean sheet.
The match began with Hourihane touching the ball and recommencing Championship football on home soil. The Reds crowd were vocal from the outset, drowning out any attempted noise from their away counterparts.
It was the wingers in Barnsley shirts that were causing instant problems for Derby’s defence. Supported by James Bree and Aidy White from full-back, Adam Hammill and Ryan Kent were getting forward at every given opportunity.
It took just 10 minutes for the Reds to open their Oakwell scoring for the season. After White glided past Derby’s midfield, he crossed to the back post where Kent picked the ball up, beat his man with some skill and laid it to the edge of the box where Hourihane smashed at goal, which hit the post but rebounded in off the back of Carson.
Derby then had a couple of chances of their own, but Alfie Mawson and Marc Roberts were cutting everything out that the visitors could throw at them. Craig Bryson and Darren Bent then had half-chances on the edge of the Barnsley area, only for both players to miss the target.
The match was then being littered with small fouls and free-kicks, seeing them awarded all over the field, which slowed the game down and was frustrating to both sides. With just five minutes to go until half-time, there were chances at either end. Firstly, Josh Scowen nearly latched onto a corner but Derby’s defence scrambled clear, before Bent raced through on goal at the other end only for Mawson to slide in and deny a certain goalscoring chance.
Half Time: Reds 1-0 Derby
The second half began in perfect fashion for Paul Heckingbottom’s side. Watkins was fouled on the right of the pitch, and there was only one person who was going to take the set-piece. Hourihane’s superb left-footed delivery had the away side’s defence in tatters as Mawson leapt highest to head home, sending Oakwell into a frenzy, and making the score 2-0.
Just moments later, it could have been three but for Scott Carson producing a stunning save. It was again that man Hourihane involved, as he hit a first time volley on the edge of the area towards goal, but Carson tipped over the bar for a corner.
Derby’s first real chance of the half was from a Tom Ince free-kick. The winger had the goal at his mercy from 20 yards out, but could only hit the wall. Just seconds after, it was the turn of Chris Martin to hit a free-kick this time, but he also missed by curling over the bar.
As the game was starting to get stretched, Kent was causing problems for the Reds. He ran forward and cut inside on no less than three occasions, and all his shots were on target but Carson wasn’t beaten.
Both ‘keepers were then busy. After Carson’s saves from Kent, Davies produced two one-handed stunners to deny Ince firstly, and Forsyth moments later. As the attendance was announced at 15,049, Oakwell saw all the noise come from the Reds fans, as the Rams had been silenced.
As we entered into stoppage time there was an opportunity for latest recruit Sessi D’Almeida to make his Oakwell debut, replacing the ever dangerous Marley Watkins. The full time whistle was blown shortly after and the Reds had gained a superb three points in front of their own faithful.
Full Time: Barnsley 2-0 Derby County.
Reds: Davies (GK), Bree, Roberts, Mawson, White, Hammill, Scowen, Hourihane (c), Kent, Bradshaw, Watkins
Subs: Townsend (GK), Yiadom, MacDonald, Moncur, Lee, D'Almeida, Payne
Derby County: Carson (GK), Christie, Forsyth, Bryson, Shackell, Keogh (c), Hendrick, Bent, Ince, Butterfield, Blackman
Subs: Grant (GK), Pearce, Russell, Hughes, Martin, Johnson, Baird