Reds 1 (Hassell 35)
Bobby Hassell’s second goal of the season along with a massive, massive performance from David Flitcroft’s troops meant three more important points were in the bag. The Reds dug deep and pulled out another tremendous three points after fighting like warriors against promotion-hopefuls Watford.
It was a bright start from the Reds and Jason Scotland was involved early doors, but it was Tom Kennedy who registered the first shot of the match with a free-kick that zipped over Bond’s bar.
Watford went close with Anya capitalising on a poor clearance, but Steele was alert to punch the ball clear on five minutes.
There was an early change for the Reds, and an enforced one at that, as Rory Delap was withdrawn through injury and Bobby Hassell came on.
Troy Denney was showing his strength and pace as he burst towards the byline but his pull-back was well cleared by Cranie.
The ball just got caught under Scotland’s feet as the move of the match fell for the striker in the box on 17 minutes. Not long after that Bond did well to smother O’Brien’s header across goal with Scotland lurking.
O’Brien got the better of Ekstrand in the middle of the park and the Swede was punished for the Hornets; booked by referee Tony Bates.
Watford’s winger Anywa was showing blistering pace down the left, and he eventually helped the ball over to the right-hand side only for Vydra to scoop well over the bar on 29 minutes.
O’Grady go the better of Ekstrand only for Nosworthy to bail his team-mate out as the Reeds striker almost got in for a one-on-one with Bond on 33 minutes.
Barnsley’s chance came on 34 minutes although it was an acute angle for Scotland as he went one-on-one with Bond, the young ‘keeper parried the ball away from the striker’s effort after Mellis had slipped him in. But it didn’t matter as from a free-kick soon after, Mellis curled in a great free-kick and Bobby Hassell rose the highest to power home a terrific header on 35 minutes.
The game was being played at a ridiculous tempo and was end-to-end, just as two minutes of stoppage time was indicated for the first half.
A chance for a second game as O’Grady met O’Brien’s hanging cross but he nodded over the bar from eight yards.
There was a change apiece for either side with Nathaniel Chalobah replacing Mark Yeates for Watford and Scotland coming off for Dagnall for the Reds.
The second half resumed at an electric tempo, with Perkins and Etuhu working phenomenally hard to keep the ball. There was a slightly worrying moment as Luke Steele took a nasty knock from Vydra but, thankfully, he resumed play.
Wiseman showed his pace to fly past the Watford defence and place a dangerous cross into the box but the Hornets cleared. On 52 minutes Bond parried a vicious O’Grady effort over the bar after some great work down the left – Barnsley were really going for the jugular and the fans were responding.
The Reds’ final chance came on 58 minutes with Mellis being replaced by Tomasz Cywka on the left.
Troy Deeney was booked and was very lucky not to see red after kicking Luke Steele well after the ‘keeper had claimed the ball.
A chance for Watford fell when a clearance dropped onto the boot of Vydra, the strike volleyed at goal but Steele was in the right place on 73 minutes to claim the ball.
It was a monumental effort from the Reds and if they were to get anything less than three points it would be a travesty. The work rate was off the scale.
It should have been game over on the stroke of 85 minutes when Chris Dagnall went through only to have his strike deflect over and the Reds were denied a corner, to boot.
Chris O’Grady went it alone and probably should have teed up Cywka but he opted to shoot and could only scuff at Bond from the left-hand side on 87 minutes.
Four minutes of stoppage time was indicated as the Reds looked to see the game out.
Watford were now launching the ball forward but they couldn’t find a way through, the Reds had another massive three points in the bag.
Reds: Steele, Cranie, Wiseman, Delap (Hassell 6), Kennedy, Perkins, Mellis (Cywka 58), Etuhu, Scotland (Dagnall 46), O'Grady, O'Brien.
Subs: Alnwick, Tunnicliffe, Dawson, Harewood.
Watford: Bond, Yeates (Chalobah 46), Denney, Doyley, Vydra, Anya (Forestieri 63), Cassetti, Nosworthy, Hogg (Mujangi Bia 63), Battocchio, Ekstrand.
Subs: Bonham, Hall, Pudil, Geijo.
Referee: Tony Bates.