Jake Greatorex saved a late Arimide Oteh penalty as Barnsley U23s held on to claim a point against Queens Park Rangers at Oakwell.
The young Reds stormed into a 2-0 first half lead with goals from Jared Bird and Tai-Reece Chisholm before the visitors hit back after the break through Charlie Wakefield and substitute Ody Alfa.
It was Martin Devaney’s side who made the brighter start and deservedly took the lead when Bird calmly slotted into the bottom corner following a fine, flowing move. Ben Williams had driven at the retreating Hoops backline before finding Amir Berkovits with an intricate pass. The Israeli winger played in Chisholm, who cut it back for Bird to side-foot into the far corner.
Barnsley then doubled their lead when Chisholm, on his official debut having signed for the Club during the summer following a successful trial period, picked up the ball midway inside the visiting half before unleashing a fierce low drive into the bottom corner from distance.
The Reds twice came close to adding to their tally when Bird fired over before Chisholm hooked the ball narrowly over the bar from close range after QPR failed to deal with a corner.
Williams then drilled in a magnificent cross from the left flank, but Dylan Mottley-Henry, bursting in from the right, was unable to connect from the edge of the six-yard box.
Barnsley came out after the break full of energy and debutant Gerry McDonagh had an opportunity to make it 3-0, but he couldn’t get his shot away before the recovering defender made a crucial tackle.
Greatorex was then on hand to make a fine save to deny Niko Hamalainen as the full-back’s vicious shot swerved dangerously, but the Reds’ stopper managed to palm it over the bar.
QPR seemed to grow into the game and were eventually rewarded for their endeavours when Wakefield latched onto a through ball before finishing coolly into the bottom corner.
Alfa then saw his downwards header bounce up and clip the top of the bar moments later, before the young Hoops winger rose highest to head home Hamalainen’s deep cross nine minutes from time to level the scores.
The visitors were awarded a penalty with seven minutes remaining when Wakefield was brought down in the box, but Oteh – who scored 13 goals in the Professional Development League last season – saw his tame penalty saved by Greatorex who got down well to his left.
There was still time for QPR to create further chances to win the contest, with Aiden Mesias guilty of missing an open goal as the game ticket into stoppage time, but Devaney’s side hung on to claim a point on the opening day.
REDS XI: Greatorex, Trialist (Barnett, 57), Fielding, Smith (c), Williams, Mottley-Henry, Otim, Bird, Berkovits (Trialist, 67), Chisholm, McDonagh
Not used: Trialist, Moon, Feeney
QPR XI: Brzozowski, Felix (c), Hamalainen, Bettache, Phillips, Fox, Shodipo, Agyemang, Mesias, Oteh, Wakefield
Subs: Bansal-McNulty, Bowman, Alfa, Omar