A scrappy South Yorkshire derby resulted in the points being shared between our U18s and Sheffield Wednesday on Friday evening.
Despite a nervy end to the game, Nicky Eaden’s side held on for the draw, retaining their position at the top of the table.
Barnsley's slow start gave the visitors early opportunities to open the scoring. The Owls looked to test Rogan Ravenhill in the Reds’ goal, but their efforts ultimately went wide of the mark.
Our U18s’ first chance of the game came in the shape of a long-range effort from Theo Chapman, but the Reds’ midfielder couldn’t quite direct his effort accurately, leading to his 20-yard strike sailing high and wide to the right.
An inspired piece of goalkeeping from Ravenhill denied the Owls the opener, as the man between the sticks looked sure to be beaten following a deflected shot that ricocheted viscously off Chapman. However, a quick reaction dive to his right resulted in our number one clawing the ball to safety.
Ravenhill was called to action again shortly after as a long range bullet of a shot was fired towards the top right corner and seemed destined to give Wednesday the opener. However, the 17-year-old stopper matched the attempt with an equally astounding fingertip save to push the ball out for a corner.
The Reds looked to steal a goal before half-time as a fast break up the field led to a corner. The ball in from Mylan Benjamin was met by Charlie Hickingbottom, but his headed effort had just too much height on it and cleared the crossbar.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0–0 Sheffield Wednesday
Following the restart, an effort for the Reds almost led to the breakthrough. A sighter from Chapman in a good position on the edge of the box narrowly went over the crossbar. Substitute Leo Farrell then saw his effort claimed by Wednesday ‘keeper Pierce Charles.
The game continued to be a battle for both sides as they searched for a goal. Scrappy front to back football, with neither team utilising their midfielders to a high degree, took over the contest.
Five minutes from time the visitors looked certain to have found the winner. A quick shot at the back post almost found its way into the back of the net, however, Ravenhill’s fingertips kept the Reds in the game in astonishing fashion.
With time virtually up, the Owls again looked like they had secured the win. A barrage of shots from the attackers in blue and white hit everything but the back of the net, as a block on the line from Johnathan Bland and the woodwork came to the Reds’ aid. Fortunately, this was just enough to secure a point for our U18s as the referee blew the final whistle.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 0–0 Sheffield Wednesday
REDS XI: Ravenhill (GK), Anaman, Benjamin, Bland, Trialist, Hickingbottom, Monteiro, Makiessi, Dyer (C), Chapman, Nzondo.
Subs: Carter Rodgers (GK), Lacey, Yoganathan, Farrell, McKay.