The Reds were made to rue missed opportunities in the First Round of the EFL Cup as Northampton Town battled back from behind to win an entertaining contest 2-1 after extra time here at Oakwell. Paul Heckingbottom’s men will be disappointed not to have progressed in the competition after spending significant periods of the game on top and creating the better of the chances. League One newcomers Northampton were made to defend heavily at times to keep the Reds at bay, and got their rewards with a John-Joe O’Toole header on 114 minutes to secure a second round spot.
Barnsley dominated first half proceedings with the team showcasing some quality build up play and deservedly took the lead midway through the first period.
The match got off to a fairly even start with neither side showing any kind of real momentum as they looked to settle into the game. Marley Watkins looked bright from the off and had a half chance on nine minutes. Adam Hammill got hold of the ball on the left wing and with two defenders around him he launched a cross in to the box. He found the head of Watkins who headed just wide of Smith’s left hand post.
On 12 minutes Hammill again weaved his way to the by-line and with three defenders around him, he managed to fire over a teasing cross. The defence cleared the ball only to Conor Hourihane who was waiting on the edge of the box. The Irishman smashed the ball towards goal right footed from the 18 yard line but it ended up just wide.
The visitors rarely threatened in the opening stages, with Kenji Gorre on the left wing looking the most likely to open up the Reds defence. The son of former Red Dean Gorre got forward well and tested James Bree at right back.
On 21 minutes the Reds got the breakthrough they deserved. Adam Hammill who was a persistent threat throughout the first half took on the right back and won a free kick on the left hand side of the box. He whipped in a perfectly weighted cross and found Josh Scowen at the near post. The midfielder directed a precise header past Smith in the Cobblers goal to put the Reds 1-0 up.
After the goal the Reds took control of the game and dominated possession. Marley Watkins again sought to get in behind the defenders, and was successful in holding up the ball and bringing Barnsley into the attack.
On 30 minutes Northampton came close to a breakthrough at goal as Alex Revell went close to getting through one-on-one. But as usual Marc Roberts got back to make a superb last man challenge.
The left hand side pairing of Aidy White and Adam Hammill proved effective with the two linking up well on the overlap.
Just before half time Northampton created arguably their best chance of the half. Midfielder Harry Beautyman worked the ball well and found space to shoot on the edge of the box, but it was well blocked and the subsequent corner was cleared.
HALF TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Northampton Town
Barnsley started the second half brightly and showed good intent as they looked to double their advantage. Tom Bradshaw won the ball shortly after kick-off and after a good run towards goal he shot from long distance but it went wide.
On 49 minutes the Reds were inches from doubling their lead. Hammill whipped in a corner and it appeared to be destined for the keeper. However Smith in the Cobblers goal fumbled it, but before it could be scrambled home Zakuani cleared it off the line acrobatically!
Northampton grew in confidence and began to give the Reds more to think about. The best move of the game so far from the visitors came on 51 minutes. After some great build up play, Phillips played a perfect low cross into the box, but Mawson got back just in time to clear for a corner. The equalising goal came from the resulting corner, which was via a rare mistake and an own goal by Adam Davies between the sticks for Barnsley. As the resulting corner was launched in to the box, it looked like an easy take for the Reds stopper, but he dropped the ball under pressure and it found its way into the back of the net. 1-1
Kenji Gorre continued to cause problems on the left wing and went close with a fierce strike on goal just two minutes after the equaliser. After some good work on the left, he cut inside and shot firmly at goal. It swerved on its way through but Adam Davies got down well to palm it away. The chance came during a good spell of pressure from the visitors and Phillips followed it up with another long range effort which went wide.
The Reds looked to get a foothold in the game and on 58 minutes Moncur fed Hammill who was then fouled 25 yards out, winning a free-kick. Straight from the training ground, Hourihane sent Hammill through on the right towards goal – the winger crossed low and hard but it was well blocked by Buchanan.
On 61 minutes Marc Roberts launched a trademark long throw into the box. It was flicked towards goal by Watkins, but it went agonisingly wide.
Ryan Kent came off from the bench and made an immediate impact on 62 minutes. The on-loan winger picked up the ball on the right, cut inside to feed Watkins who had a clear shot at goal, but his left footed shot was well saved by the keeper.
The Reds began to dominate once again and on 64 minutes Adam Hammill cut inside on the left and took on his marker. He hit a long range curling effort at goal, but it was tipped wide by Smith.
Northampton continued to battle hard and gave a good account of themselves, with Kenji Gorre again causing problems down the left hand side. On 70 minutes he took on his marker and put another cross into the mixer, but it was well cleared and the Reds quickly got back on the attack.
The Reds went searching for a winning goal in the final stages and on 77 minutes Tom Bradshaw teed up Hammill who latched onto a ball into the box on the counter attack. Hammill smashed another shot towards the top corner but Diamond got in the way and deflected the ball away for a corner, despite handball claims.
On 84 minutes James Bree’s persistence almost paid off. He nicked the ball off the left back in the opposition box and squared it across goal in search for a waiting Red shirt, but it was cleared by Zakuani. Mawson went very close from the resulting corner, blazing over after a great run to latch onto the well placed cross.
The Reds looked most likely to score as we headed towards extra time, with substitutes Payne and Kent asking questions of the back four. The Reds threw everything at Northampton in injury time with Roberts going close from another Hammill corner, but it just wouldn’t fall for the Reds and the referee blew for full time and 30 minutes extra time would follow.
FULL TIME: Barnsley 1-1 Northampton Town.
Extra time got underway and within two minutes Stefan Payne almost put the Reds in front in emphatic style. The big striker shrugged off his defender and hit an unstoppable drive from 30 yards out, but with the keeper beaten the ball cracked the upright!
Ten minutes into extra time, Watkins was causing more problems and fed Ryan Kent who raced through on goal but Smith came out expertly to smother the ball and clear the danger.
The Reds we’re let off on 103 minutes as Revell raced through to breach the back line. The ex-Rotherham striker pulled the ball across the penalty area but nobody was there to meet it and the Reds got back on the attack.
On 107 minutes the Reds should have been ahead as Watkins missed a gilt edge opportunity. Aidy White found him unmarked on the penalty spot and with time to pick his spot he blazed over. With the Reds looking to finish off the game and avoid penalties, Hammill hit another long range effort which flew over.
Northampton got the winning goal on 114 minutes. Substitute Will Hoskins burst forward and found shooting space, but the ball was deflected for a corner by Mawson. John-Joe O’Toole powerfully converted a header from the resulting corner leaving Davies with no chance and putting the visitors 2-1 up.
In the final stages the Reds continued to pile forward as they looked to rescue the game and force penalties. Hammill won another free kick on the left hand side 40 yards out and swung in a teasing cross. Marc Roberts came close to equalising but he couldn’t quite squeeze it home. The ball was played back into the danger zone - Conor Hourihane connected well with it but it was deflected wide!
Andy Yiadom made a number of late runs forward to find the breakthrough in the dying seconds, but Northampton saw out the game and the Reds exited the competition at the first stage. Attention now turns to league duties with Derby County coming up at Oakwell on Saturday.