Steve Simpson’s sensational overhead kick deep into stoppage time rescued a point for Barnsley U23s against Colchester United on Tuesday afternoon.
It was no less than the young Reds deserved for their endeavours at the Oakwell Training Ground, after dominating large spells of the encounter, but they were unable to make their superiority count in the final third.
After surviving an early scare when U’s striker Jake Hutchinson saw his effort ruled out for offside just two minutes in, the hosts were awarded a penalty for a foul on Dan Bramall.
The Barnsley wide man took responsibility himself, but his attempt was tipped wide of his left-hand post by Ted Collins, much to the delight of the travelling side.
But the Reds continued to forage forward and came close on a couple of occasions through the diminutive Will Calligan and on trial Victor Sodeinde before Bramall atoned for his penalty miss by opening the scoring midway through the first half.
He picked up the ball on the righthand side of the box, cut in on his left foot and drilled a lovely strike into the far bottom corner to bag his second goal of the Professional Development League campaign.
The hosts looked to build on that momentum, with Bramall – a menace all afternoon – the focal point of the attacks with his blistering pace causing Colchester all kinds of problems.
However, on the stroke of half time, the U’s hit back with a sucker punch as Alfie Cerulli found the bottom corner from 20-yards to level the scores.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 1-1 Colchester United
The visitors showed renewed vigour after the restart and came close to taking the lead when Sam Cornish crashed a long range drive off the upright.
Martin Devaney looked to add more energy to his attack and made three substitutions in quick succession, with Simpson, Kareem Hassan-Smith and Lloyd Smith all introduced.
Barnsley probed in wide areas to utilise the pace and industry of Bramall, Calligan and Charlie Winfield in a bid to make the breakthrough, which looked likely to come from a set-piece.
First, Jasper Moon saw a glancing header drift narrowly wide of the far post before Bramall tried his luck from a deal ball situation only to be denied by a flying Collins save.
At the other end, Addai had to be at his best to keep out Donnell Thomas’ thunderous strike, while Lordan Akolbire had an effort ruled out for offside as the pendulum began to swing in the visitors’ favour.
It looked as though Colchester had done enough to snatch all three points with little over 10 minutes remaining when Tom Stagg reacted quickest to slot home the rebound after Addai had thwarted Hutchinson.
But, with time almost up, like the first team on Saturday, our youngsters found a way to salvage something from the contest.
Addai floated a free-kick to the edge of the U’s box and Collins came racing out to claim. Amid the confusion and flailing limbs, the ball bounced up perfectly for Simpson who showed tremendous agility and initiative to acrobatically fire home the equaliser into an empty net.
It was an incredible end to a manic game, and no less than the Reds deserved.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 2-2 Colchester United
REDS XI: Addai (GK), Pache, Omar (c), Moon, Winfield, Lancaster, Binns (Hassan-Smith, 58), Bähre (Smith, 64), Bramall, Sodeinde (Simpson, 54).
Not used: Flavell (GK), Ackroyd.
COLCHESTER XI: Collins (GK), Tchamaedu, Akolbire, Cornish, Cracknell (c), Bakare, Tricker, Lowe, Hutchinson, Cerulli, Thomas.
Subs: Johnson, Stagg, Terry, Brown, Parish.