Our U18s battled to a 2-2 draw with Birmingham City at the Oakwell Training Ground on Friday evening.
Second half goals from Alex Anaman and Theo Chapman saw the young Reds twice come from behind to take a point in a game they dominated for large portions.
Quick out of the blocks, Barnsley were on top for the majority of the opening exchanges, with Chapman seeing two of his strikes go a begging. Soon after, Charlie Hickingbottom dragged a side-footed effort wide of the far post as Nicky Eaden’s table-topping side began to flex their muscles.
With half an hour gone, our U18s had their first scare of the encounter as Blues striker Ben Beresford poked the ball into the back of the net following a goalmouth scramble, but luckily, the goal was rightfully disallowed for a foul on Rogan Ravenhill.
The remainder of the first half saw our young Reds control possession and hunt for an opener. Minutes before the break, Mylan Benjamin forced an outstanding save from Brad Mayo, who prevented his side from trailing at the interval.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0-0 Birmingham City
Soon after the restart, Mayo was called into action once more – this time to deny Jonathan Bland in a one-on-one situation. From the resulting corner, Bland almost the deadlock, but was thwarted by the visiting stopper for the second time in a matter of moment.
Despite this bright start to the second period, it was City who took the lead when Beresford did well to adjust his feet under pressure and slot in from close range.
That lead didn’t last long, though as Barnsley found a response to their setback in the form of Anaman, who pounced on a defensive mishap to beat Mayo and fire home a deserved equaliser.
However, the leveller would soon prove to be short lived. Just minutes after the goal, Birmingham’s Engwau Oduka provided an instant response for his side, making no mistake in scoring from close range to restore City’s lead.
Our young Reds continued to fight as they strived to find their way back into the contest. Their relentless pressure would soon be rewarded when Chapman found the ball at his feet 25-yards out and unleashed a thunderous drive through a mass of bodies to restore parity.
The pendulum had swung back in Barnsley’s favour, and our U18s pushed forward in search of a dramatic winner – which they thought they had in the dying embers as Leo Farrell rounded Mayo and finished confidently, only to see the offside flag raised.
Ultimately, this could prove to be a good point for Eaden’s team, who remain top of the Professional Development League.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 2-2 Birmingham City
REDS XI: Ravenhill (GK), Kozluk, Benjamin, Joof, Hickingbottom, Pickard, Bland (C), Makiessi, Anaman, Chapman, Monteiro.
SUBS: Carter-Rodgers, Farrell, Yoganathan, Graham, Reid.