Our U23s gained some valuable minutes and produced a dominant display in their penultimate pre-season friendly against a resolute Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday afternoon.
Tom Harban’s side took the lead in the first half through Fabio Jalo and doubled it when the young forward struck again after some poor defending from the hosts. In the second half, Hayden Pickard rubbed salt into the Stocksbridge wounds by scoring Barnsley’s third following a goalmouth scramble.
It was a bright start from our opponents who looked sharp and eager to cause problems, but the Reds’ defence held firm and dealt comfortably with the home side’s attacking efforts.
In a scrappy affair, Barnsley began to knock on the door and eventually broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute.
The ball was played across the six-yard box and into the path of Jalo who smashed it in at the far post. It was a superb finish from our striker, who did the hard work first by positioning himself marvellously, therefore presenting himself with a moderately easy scoring chance.
The Reds maintained the majority of possession and dominated proceedings after their opener, making a second goal almost inevitable, and were rewarded for their attacking efforts moments later as Jalo scored his second of the game – tucking the ball past the keeper from an incredibly tight angle.
It came just seconds after a fantastic save from the Stockbridge keeper, who this time was unable to prevent his side from going two goals down.
HALF-TIME: Stocksbridge 0-2 Barnsley
Similar to how they started the game, Stocksbridge began the second half as the better of the two sides and were frequently testing the Reds’ defence.
Steels debutant Luke Rawson came close to scoring when he was inches away from forcing a Barnsley defensive error, but in the end was unable to tackle Jamie Searle and the ‘keeper was able to clear the ball from danger.
Searle was tested again just minutes later when some positive football from Stocksbridge played Gareth Curtis into space, but his curled shot landed straight in the arms of the our New Zealand stopper.
Stocksbridge saw the majority of the ball for the opening 15 minutes of the second-half but couldn’t manage to beat Searle; these missed opportunities would soon prove to cost them dearly, as Pickard scored Barnsley’s third and final goal of the game just after the hour mark.
A low driven cross entered the box and a goal-mouth scramble ensued. This was a chance that Pickard didn’t let go to waste, as he tapped the ball home to give Barnsley a three-goal lead.
Overall, it was a largely dominant and positive performance from Tom Harban’s side, who will head into their final pre-season fixture in high spirits.
FULL-TIME: Stocksbridge 0-3 Barnsley
REDS XI: Searle (GK), Hassan-Smith, Pickard, Lancaster (C), D Benson, Ariely, Hartley, Ackroyd, Butterfill, Trialist, Jalo.
Subs: Ravenhill (GK), Dyer, Joof, Nejman.