Our U18s were beaten 2-1 by Millwall in their final game of the regulation Professional Development League season at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
Two first half goals from Tom Leahy and Romain Esse for the Lions were enough to secure three points for the visitors, despite a headed goal from Charlie Hickingbottom for the Reds in the second half.
Barnsley came into the clash on Oakwell knowing that another victory would make it five on the spin, after an impressive 1-0 triumph at Ipswich Town last time out.
Our youngsters have sealed a place in the PDL play-offs, with Charlton Athletic awaiting in the semi-final next Saturday.
Millwall came into this one winless in their last two, losing 2-0 at home to Coventry City in their last outing. The Lions knew that they couldn’t finish lower than fourth in the Southern division, but a win could see them rise to third depending on results elsewhere.
It was Millwall who made the brighter start to the affair. Leahy had the ball in the back of the net for the Lions after just five minutes after it broke to the striker in the area and he slotted home, but the assistant referee’s raised flag denied him an opener.
However, Leahy did break the deadlock shortly after. A quick counter-attack allowed the forward to be found one-on-one with Rogan Ravenhill, and he slotted home calmly to give the Lions the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.
Our youngsters responded well to the setback, with Fabio Jalo almost poking home from close range after a teasing delivery from Hayden Pickard on the left almost found the Portuguese attacker in the box, but the ball was just too far in front of his boot.
A turnover in the middle of the pitch allowed Esse to be slipped in, and he made no mistake from the edge of the area, bending in with his left foot into the bottom corner to double Millwall’s lead just before the break.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0-2 Millwall
Bobby Hassell turned to his bench during the interval, introducing Keegan Hartley and Alex Joof in replacement of a trialist and Pickard.
The Reds found a foothold in the game shortly after the restart. Jalo won a foul just outside of the area on the right-hand side, and it was he who delivered a teasing in-swinging delivery into the area. Hickingbottom was at the back stick, and he nodded home from close range in the 54th minute.
Jalo found himself through on goal shortly after, with a clipped ball forward finding the attacker, but the angle narrowed and Millwall ‘keeper Alfie McNally saved well with his feet at the near post.
In one final roll of the dice, Hassell introduced Mylan Benjamin to the fray, with Josiah Dyer making way in a straight switch at the top of the pitch for the Reds in the 73rd minute.
Despite most of the final 10 minutes being played in the Millwall half, the Reds couldn’t find an elusive equaliser in the closing stages.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 1-2 Millwall
REDS XI: Ravenhill (GK), Lacey, Pickard, D Benson, Hickingbottom, Trialist, Chapman, Nejman (C), Dyer, Jalo, Trialist.
Subs: Joof, Makiessi, Monteiro, Benjamin, Hartley.