The Reds continued their excellent away form with a solid 1-0 victory over Birmingham City.
Jacob Brown scored the Reds solitary goal midway through the first half, following good work from Jake Charles to create the chance.
Both teams had opportunities at either end to score, but both defences and ‘keepers were refusing to be beaten. The full time whistle went to secure Paul Harsley’s side a deserved three points and extend their winning away run to three matches.
Paul Harsley named six players in his starting line-up that have tasted first team football in their time with the Club, showing the strength he has available to him whilst giving some players much needed minutes out on the pitch.
It was the hosts however who started the stronger, going close early on through a header from Josh Martin. The Blues’ number six leapt highest in a crowded penalty area to head at goal, but Nick Townsend made an excellent save to tip the ball behind for a corner. That was an early wake-up call for Barnsley and they came on strong shortly after.
Fresh from his first team debut at the weekend, Josh Kay started in central midfield alongside Jared Bird who has also had first team involvement of late, and they both controlled the tempo of the match. Kay played a delicately chipped ball over the defence into the path of Dylan Mottley-Henry, but his cross was blocked for a corner. From the resulting corner, the Reds had their first real chance of the match. Jake Charles picked up a loose ball at the back of the box and powered an effort on target, which was well blocked by defender Luke Maxwell.
Further shots on goal were to follow from Callum Evans, Ryan Williams and Kay, in a sustained spell of pressure from the visitors, before Townsend was called into action again to deny Reece Brown.
In the 29th minute, the deadlock was broken from another Reds debutant in the form of Jacob Brown. Winger Jake Charles made a burst into the penalty area and fired at goal, seeing his effort well saved. Brown picked the ball up on the edge of the box and managed to slot his effort into the far corner giving the Reds the lead.
After the Reds took the lead they dominated possession. A couple of chances at either end followed but they weren’t major enough to test either ‘keeper, or more importantly, the scoreline.
Half Time: Birmingham 0-1 Barnsley (Brown 29’)
The second half began how the first half ended, with the Reds on the front foot. Mottley-Henry showed his pace to sprint into space in front of him before he was brought down by Steve Seddon, who received a yellow card.
The home side registered a big chance of their own five minutes after the restart, with Reece Brown hitting a volley at goal. Townsend got across well to cover his near-post but the stopper will have been relieved to see the effort hit the side netting. From the goal-kick, the ever present Josh Kay found some space to strike at goal but his effort also went wide of the post.
It was all Barnsley thereafter. Jacob Brown attempted to celebrate his first professional contract in further style by bursting into the box and shooting, but his low driven effort was tipped wide by Jake Weaver in the City net.
Ryan Williams then came even closer to extending the lead as he showed his class and continued his return from fitness. He went on a tricky run through three defenders, producing two excellent stepovers before shooting. His shot was blocked and cleared, though.
With five minutes remaining, Birmingham had their best chance to level. Viv Solomon-Otabor burst into the box with the ball under control and found himself one-on-one with Townsend, but again the stopper denied his effort at close range.
The full time whistle went and secured three straight away victories for Harsley’s U23s side.
Full Time: Birmingham 0-1 Barnsley (Brown 29’)
Reds: Townsend (GK), Evans, Dolan, Kay, Rodriguez, Kpekawa, Mottley-Henry, Bird (C), Brown, Williams, Charles.
Subs: Murphy (GK), Proctor, Carvell, Kebbie, Cowgill.