Our U21s claimed a fine 2-0 victory over Watford in the Professional Development League on Good Friday.
Second half goals from Josiah Dyer and Jonathan Bland secured all three points for the young Reds, who registered a clean sheet to cap off a fine performance.
The result sees Tom Harban’s side climb to sixth in the table – four points behind second place Wigan Athletic with a game in hand as the race for a place in the end of season play-offs hots up.
Barnsley started brightly and had a great chance to open the scoring when Dyer’s lay-off was met by the onrushing Eduino Vaz, whose shot clattered off the post, before Josh McKay saw his follow-up saved superbly Jonathan Macaulay.
The hosts had opportunities of their own has the half wore on, with efforts from Adrian Blake and Tobi Adeyemo in the Hornets’ attack testing Adam Hayton, but our number one remained sharp and collected with ease.
Watford looked to capitalise on the Reds’ high line as they tried to break in behind, however, astute defending from our back three denied any chances to burst through one-on-one.
HALF-TIME: Watford 0-0 Barnsley
Within a couple of minutes of the restart, our U21s broke the deadlock as Dyer continued his impressive goalscoring streak. A beautiful switch from Charlie Hickingbottom found Jordan Helliwell on the right, and our captain made no mistake in picking out Dyer who coolly swept the ball into the back of the net.
In the blink of an eye, it was two. Tricky feet in the box from Fabio Jalo created space for Vaz, whose ball to the back post found Dyer. A towering header back across the face of goal fell to Bland, who claimed the vital touch and poked the ball home.
Playing with confidence, the Reds continued with their eye-catching attacking play as they searched for a third goal. Bland found himself rushing onto a loose ball on the edge of the box, and his half-volley looked certain to hit the back of the net but for a fingertip save from Macauley.
As time ticked away, our Trialist played a fine ball through for fellow substitute Jack Butterfill to latch onto, but his vicious strike cannoned back off the upright and out of play.
Despite these chances going awry, our youngsters weren’t left ruing their spurned opportunities as the final whistle blew and move into the remaining five fixtures of the campaign with renewed confidence.
FULL-TIME: Watford 0-2 Barnsley
REDS XI: Hayton (GK), McKay, Vaz, Hickingbottom, D Benson, Trialist, Bland, Pickard, Jalo, Helliwell (C), Dyer.
Subs: Ravenhill (GK), Butterfill, Yoganathan, Joof, Trialist.