Barnsley U23s were comprehensively beaten by Burnley on Monday afternoon.
The Clarets, unbeaten in four heading into the fixture, ran out 4-1 winners at Curzon Ashton in a game that saw three penalties saved.
Jon Pepper’s side led 2-0 at the interval thanks to goals from Tinashe Chakwana and Jordan Cropper. The hosts added to their tally either side of a red card for Will Smith through Dwight McNeil and Josh Benson, while Aidy White added a consolation for the visitors.
It was the Reds who started brighter and looked more likely to make a breakthrough, with Gerry McDonagh’s physicality proving too much to handle for Burnley as the Barnsley forward continued to link up the play – providing the on-rushing Amir Berkovits and Tai-Reece Chisholm with opportunities to break on goal.
Jordan Barnett, lining up against his former club, was at his tenacious best as he harried the home defence in order to force the odd mistake here and there, but to little avail as Burnley repelled the Reds’ attacks time and time again.
Then, against the run of play, Chakwana latched onto a Benson pass and slid in bravely to beat goalkeeper Trialist to the loose ball and prod home into the bottom corner, despite the best efforts of Louis Wardle on the line.
It was harsh on Martin Devaney’s side, who had defended resolutely against the league’s top scorers, but the Clarets would soon come knocking again and were awarded a dubious penalty six minutes later.
Referee Richard Aspinall adjudged a Tunde Bayode cross to have hit a Barnsley arm and pointed to the spot. Cropper stepped up and saw his penalty saved brilliantly by Trialist down to his left, but the Burnley full-back was quickest to the rebound as he slammed home to double the hosts’ advantage.
McDonagh came close to reducing the arrears on the stroke of half-time, but his stinging shot from the edge of the box was well-saved by Adam Legzdins across to his right.
HALF-TIME: Burnley 2-0 Barnsley.
Barnsley came out firing on all cylinders after the interval and almost halved the deficit nine minutes in when Romal Palmer’s thunderous drive crashed off the post.
The midfielder was in the thick of the action once more and he was clumsily bundled over inside the area, which led to Mr Aspinall pointing to the spot for the second time that afternoon.
However, Wardle was unable to take advantage as his low penalty was turned onto the post by Legzdins who maintained his sides’ two-goal lead.
Then, within the blink of an eye, Burnley made the Reds pay for their profligacy in the final third as McNeil rose highest to head home and make it 3-0.
Things turned from bad to worse for the Reds as Smith, making his return from injury, was shown a second yellow card before Benson brilliantly fired the resulting free-kick into the top corner to effectively end the tie as a contest.
Barnsley continued to push forward for a consolation and were awarded a second spot-kick for handball. Berkovits took responsibility this time but, like earlier, Legzdins was equal to his effort and palmed the ball away. White was quickest to react as he bundled home from close range to give the Reds a goal that their dogged performance deserved.
It was too little too late for the visitors however, who saw out the remainder of the game without further incident on a difficult afternoon against a strong Clarets side.
BURNLEY XI: Legzdins, Cropper, Koiki, Howarth, Clarke (c), Cook, Bayode, Benson, Agyei, Chakwana, McNeil.
Subs: McMahon, Thomas, Woods, Harker, Conn.
REDS XI: Trialist, Wardle (c), Fielding, Smith, White, Berkovits (Feeney, 74), Palmer (Helliwell, 64), Otim, Barnett, Chisholm (Moon, 46), McDonagh.
Not used: Kendrick, Simpson.