Barnsley U23s continued their impressive pre-season with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Stoke City on Friday afternoon.
The Potters, a Category 1 academy, were outplayed for large parts of the encounter in South Yorkshire as Martin Devaney’s young side gathered momentum ahead of the Professional Development League campaign.
It took only three minutes for the Reds to open the scoring as Elliot Simoes raced onto captain Sam Fielding’s incisive through ball, before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net.
Barnsley doubled their lead just six minutes later after executing the high press to perfection. Romal Palmer saw his initial shot blocked, but the ball fell to Alex Wollerton who rifled it home off the underside of the crossbar from 20-yards.
The Reds looked impervious going forward and continued to apply pressure to Stoke, who seemingly had no response. But a lengthy delay following a clash of heads that resulted in a visiting player being stretchered from the field disrupted the hosts’ flow, and the Potters eventually began to find a foothold in the contest.
However, Barnsley still carved out chances, and neat play between Simoes and Chris Sang created an opening for the latter, but his low drive fizzed narrowly wide of the near post.
Two minutes before half-time, Stoke were awarded a penalty against the run of play and the visitors duly converted to reduce the arrears heading into the interval.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 2-1 Stoke City
Opportunities were few and far between after the restart, with both sides cancelling one another out in the final third.
The Reds sought out half-chances on the counter-attack, but were unable to make that telling killer pass as Stoke regrouped and began to dominate possession in midfield.
Eventually, the Potters’ quality shone through and they found a leveller 20 minutes from time with a fierce drive that rattled in off the far post.
There was still time for Barnsley to push forward for what would have been a deserved late winner, but the closest they came was a curling strike from the edge of the box by on-trial Keziah Martin that was comfortably gathered by the goalkeeper.
In the end, a draw was a very credible result for the young Reds who face Newcastle United U23s on Tuesday 6 August in their final pre-season outing.
REDS XI: Kendrick, Pache (Pearn, 65), Fielding (c), Moon, Gagen (Milambo, 45), Ward, Wollerton, Martin, Palmer (Willard, 60), Sang, Simoes.
Not used: Flavell, Mole.