Sheff Wed 2 (Madine 65, m/p 84, R. Johnson 77, Buxton s/o 86)
Reds 1 (Mellis 90+2)
Barnsley were taught a harsh lesson of not capitalising whilst dominating, because an effective Sheffield Wednesday unit took full advantage with two goals in the space of 12 minutes to undo the Tykes at Hillsborough. There was a late scare for the Owls, though, as a fine finish from Jacob Mellis two minutes into stoppage time gave them a lifeline, but it was just too late.
Just as the Reds were looking increasingly likely to open the scoring, Wednesday did it for them through Gary Madine on 65 minutes, before more poor marking allowed the hosts a second on 77 minutes through a Reda Johnson header.
It was a fast start but fairly scrappy in this eagerly anticipated South Yorkshire derby. The Reds started bright and forced a couple of corners early doors but the host’s rear-guard stood strong.
Perkins, Etuhu and Dagnall combined well on nine minutes but Jim O’Brien could only drag his shot wide of goal from 15 yards. Dagnall was the next to try his shooting boots and he had Kirlkland scrambling on 13 minutes after latching onto O’Brien’s through-ball.
There was still no real rhythm as the game approached the 20-minute mark, but that didn’t stop both sets of fans cheering on their sides.
Helan tried an audacious attempt from a ridiculous angle on the volley but it was well over Steele’s crossbar. Moments later Hassell saw his header easily claimed by Kirkland at the other end with 23 minutes played.
There was a right old scramble in the Barnsley box and Steele eventually came away clutching the ball but it was the first worry for Flitcroft’s side at the back.
Lita appeared to be in an offside position when he found the ball at his feet at the far stick, the Reds were caught out but thankfully Wiseman got his head in the way before Cranie cleared the danger.
Two good chances for the Reds fell in quick succession as they finally opened the home side up on 42 minutes. Etuhu set Dagnall away down the left but his shot was blocked and a great Kennedy cross moments later teed up Harewood but he cushioned his volley inches over the bar as he stretched at the far post.
The Reds were producing the better football on the bobbly surface, and another good passage of play was ended abruptly when Perkins was clotheslined on the edge of the box. Mellis stepped up but he curled his attempt straight at Kirkland.
Three minutes into the second half and Bobby Hassell denied Madine a clear header at goal as he intercepted Holden’s nod into the box. Both sides were scrapping for every half ball – it was a real battle that neither side were determined to lose.
Lita couldn’t properly connect with a long, sweeping ball from Llera eight yards out and he could only glance a tame header at goal that Steele at covered.
A lapse in concentration almost cost Wednesday on 53 minutes as Mellis intercepted a loose ball down the left. After dancing into the box his cross was well blocked away for a corner.
The first change of the match was for the Reds – Jim O’Brien replaced by Reuben Noble-Lazarus. Jermaine Johnson replaced Danny Pugh for the hosts.
An incredible shot from Reuben Noble-Lazarus from all of 30 yards seemed destined for the far corner but Kirkland got across with an expert save to deny the youngster.
Jason Scotland came on for the Reds, replacing the tireless Chris Dagnall on 63 minutes.
Wednesday were cracking as Barnsley turned up the pressure. Harewood was retaining the ball well, and did so before laying off for Scotland who shot low but Kirkland held well on 65 minutes.
After having the better of the play, Wednesday took the lead. Gary Madine latched onto a right-wing delivery – bundling home off the post from five yards.
Both Bobby Hassell and Luke Steele prevented Madine doubling his and his side’s tally on 71 minutes as another high ball was launched into the box and headed into his path by Lita.
Steele was in the way of Johnson again after he wriggled away from Noble-Lazarus down the right before skipping past Kennedy and curling at goal from 12 yards.
Finally the game had come to life but Barnsley had to stand strong and show character to come back into it. But it wasn’t to be. It was 2-0 and game over on 77 minutes. Barnsley’s marking was non-existent as Llera curled a free-kick to the far post and Reda Johnson nodded into the far corner.
The third and final change for the Reds came after the second goal, with Danny Rose replacing Kelvin Etuhu.
With 84 minutes played, the hosts were given a penalty for ‘handball’ by Hassell in the box. Gary Madine stepped up for his second but he slammed well wide of Steele’s left-hand post.
A handball by Buxton earned him his marching orders as he charged down Scotland’s free-kick on the edge of the box. Six minutes of stoppage time was indicated by the fourth official.
With two minutes of stoppage time played, Jacob Mellis handed the Reds a lifeline with a fine finish after some great football between Harewood and Mellis. The former Chelsea man played a neat one-two with Harewood before thundering home from a fairly acute angle.
Sheff Wed: Kirkland, Buxton, R. Johnson, Gardner, Madine, Helan, Pugh (Johnson 57), Holden (Coke 62), Olofinjana, Lita (Maguire 82), Llera.
Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Lee, Prutton.
Reds: Steele, Hassell, O'Brien (Noble-Lazarus 57), Perkins, Dagnall (Scotland 63), Wiseman, Harewood, Etuhu (Rose 78), Mellis, Cranie, Kennedy.
Subs: Alnwick, Foster, Dawson, Cywka.
Referee: G. Salisbury.