Barnsley claimed a fine 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon.
Devante Cole’s first half strike was added to late on by debutant John McAtee as the Reds put 10-man Latics to the sword following Charlie Hughes’ early dismissal.
It was a pleasing performance from Neill Collins’ side, who shrugged off the disappointment of two consecutive home defeats to beat a dogged home side in Lancashire.
Despite making a tentative start, it was the Reds who had the first clear cut opening of the game following a crisp counter-attack as Cole slipped in strike partner Max Watters, who could only skew wide of Sam Tickle’s goal under pressure from Hughes.
Five minutes later though, the hosts were reduced to 10 men when we broke at pace again and Cole was unceremoniously scythed down by Hughes, which prompted referee Sebastian Stockbridge to brandish the red card.
Barnsley took full advantage of the numerical superiority and made the breakthrough with a superbly worked goal as Barry Cotter’s pinpoint cross was beautifully swept home at the near post by Cole.
Very much in the ascendency, the Reds looked to double their lead heading into the break and came close on numerous occasions, only to be denied by an inspired Tickle in the Latics goal.
First, the Wigan stopper got down well at his near post to tip wide Adam Phillips’ clever flick before thwarting Jack Shepherd from the resulting corner. Phillips’ long range drive was then expertly kept out as we tried to hammer the door down.
HALF-TIME: Wigan Athletic 0-1 Barnsley
Wigan came flying out of the blocks after the restart, bolstered by a vociferous home crowd still aggrieved at the dismissal of Hughes, and Jordan Williams had to fling himself in front of Callum Lang’s opportunistic effort as we weathered a storm.
On the hour, Barnsley eventually found a bit of rhythm and started to fire in a series of crosses from both flanks, with Cotter teasing one in for the stretching Cole, who couldn’t get a toe on the ball to prod it in at the near post.
Another swift counter-attack moments later saw Williams switch the ball for Nicky Cadden, and the Scotsman cut in on his right foot before curling one wide.
Introduced from the bench, McAtee was presented with a golden opportunity to open his Reds account when a long ball over the top was misjudged by Tickle, allowing the Luton Town loanee to canter through on goal, but with the angle against him, he could only drag wide of the target.
Keen to make amends for that miss, the diminutive attacker skipped beyond a couple of challenges in the Wigan area and cracked a thunderous strike off the upright as we pressed for a killer second.
We were almost made to rue those squandered chances as Lang’s towering header was tremendously tipped over by a flying Liam Roberts.
Eight minutes from time, Cole had the ball in the back of the net for a second time when he steered home Cadden’s cross, but the linesman’s flag ensured that the celebrations from all of a red persuasion were premature.
However, the game was safe deep into stoppage time when McAtee – played in by fellow substitute Aiden Marsh – fired in off the upright to seal all three points on a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the DW Stadium.
FULL-TIME: Wigan Athletic 0-2 Barnsley
REDS XI: Roberts (GK), Cotter (O’Keeffe, 73), Williams (C), Łopata, Shepherd, Cadden, Kane, Russell, Phillips (Styles, 83), Cole (Marsh, 83), Watters (McAtee, 65).
Not used: Killip, de Gevigney, Dallas.
LATICS XI: Tickle, Watts, Pearce, Hughes, Clare (Jones, 62), M Smith, Wyke, Humphrys, Lang (C), McManaman (Morrison, 27), Adeeko (Magennis, 77).
Not used: Amos (GK), S Smith, Sze, Balagizi.