Barnsley U23s ended 2018 on a high with a well-earned 2-0 Yorkshire derby victory over Leeds United at Thorp Arch.
Goals from Amir Berkovits and Romal Palmer in either half were enough for the visitors to secure all three points against the Professional Development League North leaders, who were frustrated by the Reds’ disciplined back line on Monday afternoon.
It took just five minutes for the first goal to arrive as Leeds half-cleared a deep free-kick from Jordan Barnett. Elvis Otim headed the ball back into a dangerous area before Kieran Feeney flicked it into the path of Berkovits, who calmly side-footed home from close range.
The hosts enjoyed sustained periods of possession as they looked to dictate the tempo, but were unable to create any clear-cut scoring opportunities as Barnsley’s regimented shape repelled everything United threw at them.
However, when Leeds did manage to break through, they found Henry Kendrick in fine form as he plunged down to his left to tip away Patrick Bamford’s effort.
Will Smith and Feeney both fired narrowly wide before Sam Fielding made a last-ditch block on the line to deny Jack Harrison in first half stoppage time and ensure the Reds went in ahead at the interval.
Eight minutes after the restart, Barnsley doubled their advantage when Palmer capitalised on an error from Aapo Halme to race clear and round Will Haffer before tapping into an empty net to spark wild celebrations.
Leeds almost reduced the arrears moments later as Bamford rattled the crossbar, but the Reds remained composed and continued to show their steely resilience.
Substitute Tommy Willard came close to adding a third late on as he forced Haffer into a good save down to his right, before Feeney saw a low shot blocked as Martin Devaney’s side looked to exploit their hosts on the counter-attack.
Barnsley survived a late scare in added time when a goalmouth scramble was hacked clear off the line, but it was a job well done as the Reds claimed a priceless derby win.
LEEDS XI: Haffer, Gotts, Oduor, Nicell, Halme, Davis, Stevens, McCalmont, Bamford, Brown, Harrison.
Subs: Miazek, Mihaylov, Roberts, Hosanmah, Diaz.
REDS XI: Kendrick, Helliwell, Fielding, Smith, Barnett, Wardle (Willard, 41), Palmer, Otim, Berkovits (Moon, 67), Chisholm, Feeney.
Not used: Trialist, Moon, Aleksiev.