Barnsley Football Club’s 130th anniversary weekend could not inspire them to preserve their unbeaten run as Aston Villa ran out 3-0 winners at Oakwell.
Steve Bruce’s men took a two-goal lead into the second half, thanks to a double from Albert Adomah. Keinan Davis’ second half third sealed the points on a disappointing day for the Reds.
The anniversary celebrations signified what was the most momentous of occasions at Oakwell, with a nostalgic presentation of Reds legends from various eras.
Among the Villa line-up on this historic late kick-off was modern-day Barnsley legend Conor Hourihane, who unfortunately finished his return on the winning side but with both sets of supporters singing his name.
After a cagy opening ten minutes, both sides stretched their legs as they attempted to get onto the front foot.
Jason McCarthy made an encouraging burst forward from full-back but his cross-shot was stopped by a timely John Terry intervention. Robert Snodgrass then had Villa’s first effort on target, cutting in and firing a low left-footed drive, which Adam Davies kept out well from 20 yards.
But Villa made their mark after 18 minutes, when Adomah was on hand to open the scoring. The winger pressurised Davies as the ball rolled under the Reds ‘keeper, and was left with a simple tap-in to send the travelling Villans into elation.
Barnsley aimed to respond and grew more into the game on the half-hour mark, having a sniff at goal when Liam Lindsay rose highest to meet George Moncur’s corner, his header shuffled off the line only to be pulled back for a foul by referee Simon Hooper.
With clear cut opportunities few and far between, the first half looked to be simmering down to a slender Villa lead. But the visitors had other ideas with a minute to the break, and were awarded a penalty when teenager Davis went down under Adam Jackson’s challenge in the area.
Villa survived the Reds appeals, and Adomah stepped up to tuck the ball high into Davies’ net from 12 yards, making his and his side’s tally look healthier at the interval.
HALF TIME: Barnsley 0-2 Aston Villa
A double half-time substitution from Paul Heckingbottom followed, with Ike Ugbo and Ryan Hedges introduced to try and pave the way for a potential comeback.
However it was Villa who picked up where they left off, and Jonathan Kodjia was denied a third by the offside flag upon the start of the second half.
Number three did arrive for Steve Bruce’s men a matter of minutes later, and it was the youngster Davis who got his name on the scoresheet. Villa broke down the right flank and a deep cross from Ahmed Elmohamady was headed home by the striker to extend the advantage.
The Reds tried to break forward but the visitors stood firm, Adam Hammill trying his luck with an ambitious 35-yarder which looped over Sam Johnstone’s bar.
Ugbo then met Hammill’s ball in from the right, kept out by Johnstone as the Reds’ task looked more and more difficult.
The game slowed down as both sides played the ball around looking for final shouts at goal, with Ugbo passing up a golden chance as he flashed it across the face from close range. It was not to be the Reds’ day on the pitch.
Hammill saw one last effort kept out again by Johnstone, and as the visitors took the points back to Birmingham, the Reds were left to dust themselves down before an exciting trip to Wembley to face Tottenham on Tuesday night.
FULL TIME: Barnsley 0-3 Aston Villa
Reds: Davies, McCarthy, Jackson, Lindsay, Pearson, Williams, Hammill, Potts, Moncur (Hedges 46), Barnes (Ugbo 46), Bradshaw (Thiam 71).
Subs not used: Townsend, Fryers, McGeehan, Pinnock.
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Taylor, Snodgrass (Bjarnason 84), Whelan, Hourihane, Adomah, Kodjia (Onomah 64), Davis (Hogan 75).
Subs not used: Steer, Samba, Lansbury, Hutton.