Barnsley U18s are now second in the Professional Development League table after Sam Nicholson’s solitary strike against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.
It’s now four consecutive wins for the young Reds and five clean sheets in their last six outings, but they had to be resolute and dig deep against the Railwaymen.
The visitors made a good start to the game but, at the opposite end, Sezgin Aleksiev had other ideas and was causing havoc with his pressing. In the fourth minute, his closing down saw him win the ball and get beyond Andrew Walklate in the Crewe goal but the attacking midfielder couldn’t quite create a clear cut chance.
Seven minutes later, a Will Calligan corner caused some difficulties for the Alex defence in the box, from this, Jack Birks found an opportunity to shoot with a deflection diverting the ball onto the post.
As the Reds looked to seize control of the game, the visitors gave a reminder of their attacking threat when Nicholson had to make a goal line clearance to keep the scores level.
Aiden Marsh did hit the target following some more good pressing but was adjudged to be offside in the build-up and the game remained goalless heading into the break.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0-0 Crewe Alexandra
Barnsley went close a couple of times after the restart, with Brad Binns and Aleksiev linking up well to create a chance for the latter which Walklate collected.
Charlie Winfield then saw his shot deflected just wide and, from the resulting corner, came the breakthrough. A threatening ball into the area sparked another scramble and Nicholson pounced quickly to poke home from close range.
Marsh almost got a second in quick succession, while the Railwaymen hit back with a cross from out wide fizzing across goal as they tried to draw level.
The young Reds strung together a number of neat passages of play as they aimed to finish the match in style. However, Crewe still posed a threat from set-pieces and came agonisingly close to levelling the contest in the closing stages.
With time running out, Binns did brilliantly to beat his man in the corner and set up Birks, forcing Walklate into a great reaction save to keep the game at 1-0.
Despite a late Alex flurry, Barnsley held on to claim another hard-fought victory to keep within touching distance of leaders Wigan Athletic at the summit.
Tom Harban’s youngsters will be aiming to continue their impressive run in a top of the table South Yorkshire derby when third-place Sheffield United visit the Oakwell Training Ground next weekend.
REDS XI: Flavell, Hassan-Smith, Walmsley, Nicholson, Calligan (c), Lancaster, Binns, Winfield, Birks, Aleksiev (Sila-Conde), Marsh.
Not used: Brown, Ariely, Ackroyd, Hodgson.
CREWE XI: Walklate, Wrench, Woodthorpe, Hartshorn, Southern, Goodrich, Djalo, Green, Onyeka, Robbins, Stubbs.
Subs: McDonald, Le Grand, Marsden, Kennington, Levey.