Reds 0 (Jennings off 67)
Wigan 4 (Watson 36, Holt 56, Barnett 80, Maloney 89)
Barnsley set off their season with a defeat in a performance that had plenty of effort and determination, but in the end the dismissal of Dale Jennings – six minutes into his debut – and the sheer class of a Wigan side comprised of regular Premier League starters – proved too much for the gritty Reds.
Glorious sunshine greeted the Reds and Wigan as the long-awaited 2013/14 season got underway at Oakwell.
As anticipated it was complete blood and thunder from both outfits in the opening exchanges.
After a few blocked shots and cleared crosses at the Reds' end, Maloney's shot at the far stick was well saved by the legs of Steele as the first real chance was had on 13 minutes.
On 18 minutes a Mellis effort was blocked kindly into the path of Dagnall who turned and shot but again the Reds were denied by a block right in front of goal.
Scott Golbourne's dink went wide on the end of a great move involving Mellis down the centre, but the offside flag raised right at the last minute on 32 minutes.
On 36 minutes the opening goal came as Ben Watson, who escaped a booking on two occasions only moments earlier, rifled home a low shot from 25 yards into the bottom right-hand corner of Steele's net.
McCarthy forced Steele into a smart stop from a tight angle on 42 minutes, moments before Boyce cracked one straight at the Reds' goalie from distance.
The referee’s patience was finally pushed passed its limit when McCarthy was booked for pulling Perkins back on the counter-attack.
Maloney broke clear down the right on 50 minutes, beating the offside trap, to cross for the arriving Holt and Beausejour but the latter couldn’t steer home what would have been a second for Latics.
Wigan’s Maloney was in the thick of it again as the away side sprung a counter on 55 minutes, the diminutive midfielder saw his effort cleared off the line by Golbourne. But it didn’t matter as only minute later the visitors doubled their lead. A corner wasn’t cleared and Boyce saw his effort blocked, before a shot came in and deflected off Holt and in, with the Reds left protesting for offside.
On 61 minutes Dale Jennings was introduced for his Oakwell debut, replacing Tom Kennedy with Golbourne moving to left-back.
Having barely touched the ball, Jennings was dismissed for a 50/50 challenge that McArthur didn’t get up from on 67 minutes.
The Reds had a real uphill task against Coyle’s side who were looking incredibly comfortable in possession. Jason Scotland came on for Chris Dagnall to face his former club, and team-mate/Manager in Owen Coyle, with 18 left on the watch.
Substitute McCann had a vicious pop at goal from 25 yards that was tipped over by Steele, and from the resulting corner the Reds could only watch as Leon Barnett tackled home a shot for 3-0.
In the 89th minute, when the Reds were down, they were well and truly kicked when Marc-Antoine Fortune got all the luck in the world when his cross was blocked by Cranie only for the ball to kindly fall for the forward again. His second cross was tapped in by Maloney.
Reds: Steele, Golbourne, Kennedy (Jennings 61, s/o 67), Cranie, Dawson, O’Grady, Perkins, Dagnall (Scotland 76), Wiseman, Mellis (O’Brien 83), M’Voto.
Subs: Alnwick, Cywka, McNulty, Cofie.
Wigan: Carson, Crainey, McCarthy, Watson, Holt (Fortune 76), Maloney, McArthur (McCann 72), Boyce, Beausejour (McManaman 72), Perch, Barnett.
Subs: Nicholls, Gomez, Espinoza, Dicko.
Referee: Geoff Elltringham
Assistant Referees: Alan Clayton & Edward Smart
Fourth Official: Robert Merchant
Man of the match, sponsored by Napoleons: David Perkins