Barnsley 6-1 Rochdale

It was a day to remember down at Oakwell yesterday, as a rampant Barnsley side put six past Rochdale to register a fourth successive league win.

Off the back of a superb win at Shrewsbury last week, the Reds welcomed Dale to Oakwell, managed by former boss Keith Hill and with a side containing the much maligned duo Jim McNulty and Tom Kennedy. Sadly, the latter missed out.

Barnsley made just the one change, as Aidy White missed out through injury, and he was replaced by George Williams at an unfamiliar left-back role.

It was a rather timid opening quarter hour from both sides, Rochdale midfielder Peter Vincenti found row AA of the Ponty End, while Adam Hammill was sensing he would get some joy down the left hand side.

And it was Hammill who was the architect of the opening Barnsley goal. He was brought down by Andrew Cannon, and his resulting free kick was inch perfect, smack on the head of Alfie Mawson, who bagged his second goal in a week and his sixth of the season.

Hammill went close with a 30-yard volley before Callum Camps' effort squeezed under Adam Davies, but George Williams was on hand to clear off the line.

The game had opened up a bit, and there wasn't really an awful lot in it. It wasn't a pretty spectacle by any stretch, with both sides lacking that bit of cutting edge. A long ball from Hourihane gave Hammill a chance to lob Josh Lillis, which he did, but the ball dropped wide.

James Bree, who had a cracking game, gave Sam Winnall a chance but he hit straight at the keeper, before Camps tested Davies again but his shot was straight at the Reds' keeper.

So half time, 1-0. Like I said, not a classic but happy to be ahead at half time. However, if anyone said they saw what was coming in the second half, they'd be lying.

Seven minutes into the second period, Watkins' delightful flick sent Hammill marauding clear down the left hand side, he got to the byline and cut a perfect ball back to Sam Winnall, who deftly finished past Lillis, who probably could and should have done better.

And Winnall really should have made it three two minutes later but he took too long to get a shot away, instead cutting back for Hourihane who dragged wide.

And then, Barnsley being Barnsley, had to let one in down the other end. Keith Hill had thrown on all three of his subs in one hit, and one of those in Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, headed down and past Davies to half the deficit.

Bree was superbly in the way of a Joe Bunney shot which would have brought Rochdale level, before Lee Johnson replaced Lloyd Isgrove with Ashley Fletcher, pushing Watkins out right and Fletcher down the middle with Winnall.

And the change paid dividends just moments later. Fletcher flicked the ball onto Winnall, he headed to Watkins, who headed through to put Fletcher in. He unselfishly cut the ball back to Winnall who finished left footed to restore the two goal cushion.

A lovely moment came with ten minutes to go, when Josh Scowen replaced Josh Brownhill. Scowen made his return after nearly three months out with a knee injury.

Somehow, the Reds didn't make it four after a big scramble, in which the ball just wouldn't drop for Watkins. But he got in on the act with six minutes to go. Fletcher showed great skill to find Winnall, and his perfect throughball found Watkins, who slammed under Lillis.

The Reds were hungry for more and Hammill had the ball in the net but Watkins was offside before squaring. But the fifth came soon after, a long ball by Bree was met by Fletcher, his header looped up for Winnall, who beat Olly Lancashire in the air to head into an unguarded net.

As the game wound down to a conclusion, Hammill was cleaned out by Mendez-Laing but unfortunately stayed down and looked to be in some pain. He was lifted out of the action and the Reds then made it six.

Hourihane's corner found it's way to Fletcher just to the right of the penalty spot. His hashed left footed effort then found its way back to Hourihane, who crossed brilliantly for Kevin Long to power a header past Lillis.

It was the first time the Reds had scored six in a game since August 1999, when they beat Portsmouth 6-0 at Oakwell. And it sent the Reds fans home extremely happy. But I can wager that it was a long trip back over the Pennines for the 507 Dale fans.

 

Barnsley 6 (Mawson 8, Winnall 52,69,89, Watkins 84, Long 90+3) 
Rochdale 1 (Mendez-Laing 65)

Attendance: 8,823 (507 away)

Player Ratings

Adam Davies: A relatively easy afternoon for the Reds keeper. Can't think of a save he had to make. 6

James Bree: Reece who? Great display from young Bree, linked up really well with Isgrove. Playing beyond his years. 8

Alfie Mawson: Best centre-half display I've seen at Oakwell in donkeys years. Never put a foot wrong and don't think he lost a header all afternoon and chipped in with a goal. 9

Kevin Long: Another great display. We would do well to get his loan extended until the end of the season. 8

George Williams: Looked shaky to start with but really grew into the game, to say he was out of position, he had a great game. 7

Lloyd Isgrove: A quiet day for Lloyd. One or two good bursting runs but was dealt with well. 6

Josh Brownhill: Another one we need until the end of the season. Assured on the ball and got stuck in well. 7

Conor Hourihane: Quiet. Put in a great cross for Long's goal and went about his business in the middle of the park. 6

Adam Hammill: As dangerous as ever. Two assists and just scared the life out of the Rochdale defence. Tried too much at times, leading to frustration from his teammates. Carried off late on, so hopefully that won't be too serious. 7

Sam Winnall: Not a great first half, but he took centre stage in the second half. A perfect hat-trick and fed Watkins for the fourth. 9

Marley Watkins: Caught offside more times than I care to mention but was a constant thorn in the side. Capped off a great display with a well taken goal. 8

Subs
Ashley Fletcher (for Isgrove, 68): No sooner had he come on, he'd set up Winnall for number three. Rangy and quick with good feet, this kid looks a class act. 8

Josh Scowen (for Brownhill, 79): Great to see Josh back. Tenacious and full of running, it will be like having a new signing at Oakwell. 6

Marc Roberts (for Bree, 83): Brought on to see out the game at 3-1. Launched some of his trademark throws into the box to cause chaos. 6

Unused: Nick Townsend, Ryan Williams, Harry White, Matty Templeton.

Rochdale: Lillis, McNulty, Lancashire, Vincenti, Lund, Andrew (Bunney 59), McDermott (Allen 60), Rose, Cannon (Mendez-Laing 60), Camps, Henderson.
Unused Subs: Rafferty, Bennett, Noble-Lazarus, Diba Musangu.
 
Reds Man of the Match: So many to choose from. Obviously Winnall gets the headlines after what was a fantastic display. But my vote goes to Alfie Mawson, who put in an exemplary display and netted the opening goal.