Barnsley came from behind to claim all three points in their opening Checkatrade Trophy Group F encounter with Oldham Athletic.
Goals from Victor Adeboyejo and George Moncur in either half cancelled out Sam Surridge’s opener as the Reds ran out 2-1 winners in Greater Manchester.
Daniel Stendel rung the changes at Boundary Park with ten alterations in the starting line-up, including debuts for Ben Williams and new signing Mike-Steven Bähre following his arrival from Hannover 96 on deadline day.
There was also a first Reds start for Jacob Brown, while academy starlets Kieran Feeney, Jasper Moon and Jordan Helliwell – who was named as the Club’s Academy Player of the Year in 2017/18 – were amongst the substitutes.
In a cagey opening few minutes, it was the hosts who came closest to opening the scoring as Andrew Taylor’s free-kick forced a fine save from Jack Walton.
Callum Lang, on loan at Boundary Park from Wigan Athletic, then reacted quickest to a long throw from the right flank, but Walton was equal to his effort and gathered the ball comfortably from close range.
The young Latics’ forward squandered another opportunity as he rose highest to meet a right-wing cross, but his header sailed harmlessly over the bar midway through the first half.
However, the early pressure eventually told, and Oldham took the lead just after the half hour mark as Surridge outmuscled Liam Lindsay before firing low, across Jack Walton and into the bottom left-hand corner.
That goal seemed to spark Barnsley into life and Stendel's side were almost level immediately as Bähre latched onto a through ball and brought a good save from Oldham stopper Zeus De La Paz at his near post.
But the Reds made the breakthrough moments before the interval as Ben Williams’ cross was only half-cleared as far as Jared Bird. The 20-year-old midfielder’s run caused mayhem in the Latics’ area, and the ball eventually fell to Adeboyejo who showed his poacher’s instinct to swivel and prod home from inside the six-yard box and level the scores.
HALF-TIME: Oldham 1-1 Barnsley
Oldham started the second half brightly, but it was Barnsley who almost took the lead as Cameron McGeehan won the ball deep, burst clear of the Latics’ midfield and played a pinpoint pass for Bähre who was unable to get his shot away before being dispossessed inside the area.
From there, the hosts countered and Walton had to be at his best to deny Jonathan Benteke, brother of Crystal Palace striker Christian, after he cut inside but saw his shot blocked by the legs of the young Reds’ stopper.
With 12 minutes to go, Oldham came close to their second as Johan Branger-Engone cut in from the left and lashed a fierce shot towards goal, but it crashed into the side-netting.
Mamadou Thiam then found Adeboyejo with a deft through ball, but the young striker was denied by Samuel Graham’s timely intervention just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Eight minutes from time, substitute Moncur rifled home the winner from just inside the area after Thiam’s initial shot had been blocked. Adeboyejo picked up the loose ball and played it perfectly into the feet of the Reds’ midfielder, who calmly dispatched his shot into the top corner.
But it was Walton who would prove to be the hero at Boundary Park as he pulled of a marvellous save deep into stoppage time to keep out Benteke’s far post header and ensure Barnsley headed back to south Yorkshire with all three points.
FULL TIME: Oldham 1-2 Barnsley
LATICS XI: De La Paz, Taylor (c), Edmundson, Surridge (O’Grady, 61), Benteke, Missilou (Baxter, 58), Graham, Lang (Gardner, 74), Branger-Engone, Maouche, Hamer.
Not used: Stott, Hunt, Clarke, McFarlane.
REDS XI: Walton, Brown, Jackson (c), Lindsay (Pinnock, 46), B. Williams, J. Williams, McGeehan, Bird, Isgrove (Thiam, 68), Adeboyejo, Bähre (Moncur, 73).
Not used: Greatorex, Moon, Helliwell, Feeney
Attendance: 1,768 (443 Reds)