Barnsley fell to a 1-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle on the first day of the Sky Bet League One campaign.
Finn Azaz’ goal shortly before half-time was enough to settle the contest, largely edged by the hosts, but where the Reds will feel they should have taken at least a point back to South Yorkshire.
The early stages at Home Park were uneventful, as both teams got into the swing of things in the opening minutes of the new campaign.
It took nine minutes before an attempt in anger was registered with Ryan Hardie rattling the crossbar from close range.
A flashed ball across the box by Nicky Cadden found Jack Aitchison at the near post, whose flicked effort rebounded off of the woodwork and into the path of Josh Benson. In what seemed to go in slow motion, it was a race between Benson and the recovering Plymouth defender to smash home, but some last-ditch defending denied the midfielder an all but certain goal.
However, it was our hosts that found the elusive opening, coming on the stroke of half-time. A ball across the box found Azaz in the centre, and on the run, he fired into the top corner, leaving Brad Collins with no chance to prevent the Pilgrims taking the lead.
HALF-TIME: Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Barnsley
Barnsley made an attempt to respond shortly after the interval when a ball broke behind the Plymouth defence. Aitchsion demonstrated great pace to beat the recovering defender and allow himself to fire a low effort goalwards, but Argyle ‘keeper Michael Cooper pulled off a smart stop to deny us an equaliser in the 53rd minute.
The hosts still looked dangerous and posed a real threat going forward, with the ever-lively Azaz looking most likely to add a second, while Joe Edwards perhaps should have done better as he skewed high and wide from inside the box.
In the dying stages, it looked as though the Reds would snatch a share of the spoils as Cadden’s corner found its way to the back post, but an Argyle defender was on hand to hack clear off the line with Mads Andersen lurking for a tap in.
Up next is Cheltenham Town at home.
FULL-TIME: Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Barnsley
REDS XI: Collins (GK), J Williams, Andersen ©, Cundy (McCarthy, 46), Kitching, Cadden, Connell (Wolfe, 78), Benson (Thomas, 62), Styles, Cole (Norwood, 62), Aitchison (Marsh, 73).
Unused subs: Walton (GK), Moon.