Barnsley U18s produced a storming performance at home to Peterborough United, scoring eight of the best in what proved to be a highly entertaining afternoon on the Oakwell Showcase Pitch.
The Reds started brightly within the opening minutes of the contest. Almost immediately after kick off, Reds' skipper Jonathan Bland received the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box, with his resulting shot being aimed just over the bar. Two minutes later, a mazy run from the right flank by Ziggy Kozluk narrowly missed the feet of Reds forward Emmaisa Nzondo, heading out for a goal kick. In the fourth minute, a promising Bland run was thwarted when he was fouled from twenty yards out, with Bayley McCann's subsequent free kick effort curling just over the crossbar.
With such a bright start in mind, it was perhaps expected that Barnsley would face some resistance, as their opponents sprang into action. After six minutes, it was Reds 'keeper Rogan Ravenhill who turned hero, darting off his line to punch away a Peterborough free kick from thirty yards out. The Reds rallied back from this pressure, and continued to build momentum. In the twelfth minute, McCann's excellent inswinging cross from a corner kick met the head of Reds' defender Max Swift, however, he was unable to direct his effort on target.
After such a positive start, a first goal was the only thing acking, and in the 15th minute, Barnsley duly delivered. A well-hit cross from Kozluk found its way within view of the penalty spot, with a Peterborough defender promptly splicing the ball into the net in an attempt to clear it, as the Reds opened their account for the afternoon.
Nicky Eaden's side had a multitude of chances to extend their lead over the next 15 minutes. After another expert cross from Kozluk - this time from a corner kick - found the head of Bland, however his following header was aimed wide of the mark. Four minutes later, a powerful meandering run from the left flank allowed McCann to burst into the box at speed, with his resultant shot only managing to get as far as the side netting.
With the Reds securely in control, a second goal appeared to be something of a foregone conclusion. And so it was, in the 29th minute, that an excellent turn of pace by Luke Alker from the left-hand side allowed the Reds forward to expertly place his right footed shot in the top right-hand corner to extend Barnsley's lead. The goalscorer very quickly picked up where he left off, just two minutes later, as an Nzondo shot came off a Peterborough defender and found its way into Alker's feet, allowing him to fire home from close range to triple the Reds' advantage.
HALF TIME: Barnsley U18 3-0 Peterborough United U18
Shortly after half time, it was Luke Alker who again stepped up to become hat-trick hero. A Kozluk cross from the right hand found its way into his path, hitting home inside the 18-yard box to make it three for him and four for Barnsley. Alker was very quickly becoming a master of quickfire doubles, and so it proved in the 49th minute, as a defensive melee in the box allowed the ball to fall perfectly in front of him at close range, with the forward producing a cool sidefooted finish to put Barnsley five goals ahead.
With the Reds firmly in the lead, the away side did manage to produce a cagier effort in the following fifteen minutes to temporarily keep the Reds' onslaught at bay. In the 55th minute, Ravenhill produced a stunning diving save to deny a 25-yard curling shot from the Peterborough left wing. Similarly, Swift and McCann, now having been reshuffled to left centre back, stepped up impeccably to deny the advances of the Peterborough forward line time and time again.
The tide would sway back in Barnsley's favour soon enough. After 65 minutes, McCann produced an excellent delivery from a 30-yard free kick, managing to reach Kozluk, who brought the ball down on the volley and hit home to put Barnsley six-nil up. And five minutes after this, the skipper, Bland, managed to get on the scoresheet, receiving the ball just inside the box and hitting a superbly aimed finish into the left-hand corner, to extend the advantage to seven with twenty minutes remaining.
In the 81st minute, Peterborough had an additional chance, with Ravenhill collecting the ball comfortably from a long-range shot. This appeared to provide an impetus for the Reds to go one better, as three minutes later, the captain struck again. On the day that he signed his first professional deal, Bland produced what could only be described as a carbon copy of his initial finish, collecting the ball just inside the box and placing the ball exquisitely to ensure that the Reds finished the game with an eight-goal victory, having dominated the contest from start to finish.
FULL TIME: Barnsley U18 8-0 Peterborough United U18
Barnsley: Ravenhill, Kozluk, Wilkinson (Lundoloki, 61), Rayner, Swift, McCann, Yoganathan (Tommy-Mbogba, 68), Bland, Monteiro, Alker (Reid, 75), Nzondo (Graham, 68)
Subs not used: Carter-Rogers