Barnsley U21s 3
Leeds United U21s 3
The Reds under 21s ended their season with a six goal thriller against Yorkshire rivals Leeds United. A superb hat-trick from striker Shaun Tuton was the highlight of an entertaining match and helped the Reds to recover from 3-1 down.
Just seven minutes in, Tuton leapt highest in the Leeds area to power in a header from Callum Evans’ cross, giving Leeds ‘keeper Eric Grimes no chance. Moments later the lead was nearly doubled but the post denied winger Jordan Jones after a mazy run saw him glide past three Leeds defenders and shoot.
Leeds then hit back with arguably the goal of the game. Frank Mulhern picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and struck a thunderous shot into the top corner. The Reds responded quickly to conceding and Tuton nearly restored the lead but an excellent save from Grimes denied a close-range header.
Leeds did however take the lead just before the break, against the run of play. Mulhern was involved again as he jumped highest and cushioned a header down to Mallik Wilks, who fired home from the edge of the area.
Halfway through the second half, Leeds extended their lead further to 3-1. A long-ball over the top was controlled well by Jack McKay in the area, before he slotted the ball into the corner under pressure. Despite the score-line, the Reds were still the dominant side in the match. Jones again hit the post before efforts from Jak McCourt and Charlie Harris were kept out by Grimes.
The Reds were pressuring the Leeds defence a lot and were rewarded when Tuton was slipped through into the area by Jones, finishing the chance excellently to get his second of the match. With ten minutes remaining the comeback was complete as Tuton finished well from inside the area following a driven cross from Josh Kay, which sealed his hat-trick and completed an excellent afternoon in front of goal.
There was still time left for either side to find a winner, and it should have come for Barnsley from the penalty spot. The busy Jordan Jones raced through on goal and was brought down in the area, but the referee waved away the protests. The match ended shortly after with the final score at 3-3.
Under 21s Manager Paul Wilkinson gave his thoughts after the match, following his side’s last game of the season.
“I thought it was a good game where both teams had a real go!” Said Wilkinson. “It was a nice game to finish the season off with. I thought the first fifteen minutes or so we played really well and got on the front-foot, deservedly taking the lead with Shaun’s good header.
“We were a bit unlucky really, because we then hit the post and they went straight up the other end and scored with a tremendous strike, so it was 1-1 rather than 2-0. We sort of lost our way a little bit in the last 15 minutes of the half and went 2-1 down, it wasn’t great defending but he finished well. Nick (Townsend) has had nothing else to do except pick the ball out the net twice.”
Wilkinson continued, “We had a good chat at half-time and came out passing the ball well, looking a lot better. Unfortunately it happened again as we hit the post, then they scored with a long straight ball which is disappointing. Somehow we were playing well but losing 3-1.
“The lads then showed good character and reaction to get back into the game with a good finish from Shaun. I thought we then got stronger and stronger as the game went on and deservedly equalised with yet another good finish from Shaun. We then should have had a penalty to win it. The way the lads dug themselves out of a hole was very pleasing to see.”
Reds XI: Townsend (GK), Evans, Dolan, McCourt, W. Smith, Nyatanga, Kelly, Harris, Tuton, Khan, Jones.
Subs: Murphy (GK), Ash, Kay, Wardle, Palmer.