Ethan Pinnock’s second goal in as many games ensured Barnsley began 2018 on a high as they defeated Sunderland 1-0 at The Stadium of Light.
Mamadou Thiam struck the woodwork early on from the edge of the area, while Sunderland full-back Bryan Oviedo cracked a free kick against the post for the hosts.
Pinnock opened the scoring when Zeki Fryers’ corner bounced up and he thundered his second goal in as many matches into the roof of the net from close range.
Brad Potts nearly doubled the lead as his close range effort was parried away to safety, while Paddy McNair blazed wide on the volley in reply for the Reds.
Sunderland substitute Josh Maja glanced just over late on and Jason McCarthy cleared a header off the line deep in stoppage time as Barnsley held on to complete their first league double over the Black Cats since the 1986/87 season.
With barely five minutes on the clock, Mamadou Thiam unleashed a rocket shot from the edge of the area that cannoned away off the crossbar as the Reds strived for an early opener.
Brad Potts was cautioned for pulling back Aiden McGeady as the hosts broke away down the left, before Callum McManaman scuffed an effort straight at Adam Davies from just outside the area.
Another smooth move from the visitors down the left allowed Zeki Fryers to centre for Thiam, only for John O’Shea to divert the ball to safety.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men seemed to have a shout for a penalty when Lloyd Isgrove got in behind Tyias Browning and appeared to be pushed, but his appeals were in vain as nothing was awarded.
Ethan Pinnock produced a brilliant block to prevent James Vaughan sliding in Donald Love’s cross midway through the half as Sunderland began to threaten.
Again, however, Barnsley responded to this spell of pressure as Isgrove raced onto Potts’ through ball and fired on target, but Robbin Ruiter pushed his effort away for a corner.
Bryan Oviedo’s speculative 25-yard effort flew well over the crossbar, while Adam Hammill’s equally audacious attempt four minutes before the break dropped inches over the top corner.
Oviedo had Davies at full stretch again just before the interval as his free kick curled delightfully towards the top corner. With the ‘keeper beaten, the post came to his rescue as the Reds survived the scare just before the interval.
HALF TIME: Sunderland 0-0 Barnsley
A lightening start to the second half from Adam Hammill helped the Reds open the scoring. His running produced a corner and from Fryers’ delivery, Pinnock produced a bullet header to put the visitors ahead.
A cheeky Liam Lindsay flick from Thiam’s backheel almost made it 2-0 soon after, only for the defender to miscue his attempt and watch his effort go wide.
On the hour, Potts danced his way past Adam Matthews after being slipped in by Hammill, he poked a low shot at Ruiter from a difficult angle, only for the stopper to come out on top.
Sunderland substitute Paddy McNair lashed a good chance wide from the centre of the area as the hosts looked for a response, whilst Davies received a caution for being adjudged to have wasted time.
Heckingbottom introduced Tom Bradshaw and George Moncur in place of Thiam and Gardner, while Hammill again let fly from range, but failed to hit the target.
Vaughan’s tame effort from the edge of the box failed to trouble Davies, but Joel Asoro almost pounced on a mix-up between Davies and Fryers, the winger firing wide from a very acute angle.
Josh Maja nearly snatched a point with four minutes remaining, glancing McGeady’s corner from the left just over, while Hammill caressed the ball just wide from 25 yards.
The hosts piled on the pressure in the closing stages, while Moncur fired just wide of the mark in stoppage time. Sunderland almost snatched a point in stoppage time, only for Jason McCarthy to clear off the line as the Reds held on to ensure a winning start to 2018 for Paul Heckingbottom’s men.
FULL TIME: Sunderland 0-1 Barnsley
Sunderland: Ruiter (GK), Browning, O’Shea (c), Matthews, Love, Oviedo (Maja, 45’ ), Gibson (McNair, 33’ ), Honeyman, McGeady, Vaughan, McManaman (Asoro, 61’ ).
Unused Subs: Steele (GK), Jones, Embleton, Beadling.
Barnsley: Davies (GK) (c), Cavare, Pinnock, Lindsay, Fryers, Potts, J. Williams, Gardner (Moncur, 74’ ), Hammill (McCarthy, 90+4’ ), Isgrove, Thiam (Bradshaw, 74’ ).
Unused Subs: Townsend (GK), McGeehan, Mallan, Ugbo.