It was comfortable, maybe too comfortable but whose complaining?
For the first time this season Barnsley recorded 3 successive victories and in doing so put one foot in the Championship door for 2007-2008.
11 Crystal Palace players stepped onto the Oakwell pitch today but most of them seemed to be thinking they had stepped onto Barbados beach. Sitting in 12th position, 11 points off the top six and 14 points above the relegation zone, Palace were here simply because they had to be.
Reds boss Simon Davey was forced into one change from the fantastic 3-1 win at Southend with Neil Austin coming into the side for Lewin Nyatanga who had been recalled by Derby, and scored the winner for them last night which condemned Luton to League One and left just 2 places to avoid.
And The Reds started in exactly the same fashion as at Roots Hall and took the lead at exactly the same time and again from the same player.
I'm not sure who this number 23 is pretending to be Daniel Nardiello but he's now grabbed 6 goals in his last 4 games to propel The Reds 5 points clear of the drop zone.
Nardiello again produced outrageous skill to open the scoring, shimmering past two men before firing a shot from 30 yards which took a deflection on its way past Julian Speroni.
Palace did look dangerous occasionally on the break with ex Owl Shefki Kuqi always lurking but they failed to force Nick Colgan into a single save in that opening period whilst The Reds could have extended their lead.
On 28 minutes a fine ball from Togwell (yep) sent Nardiello clear again but his thumping effort was well blocked by Speroni whilst just before half-time Martin Devaney made it Just Like Watching Brazil with a series of flicks and back heels that eventually led to him skipping clear into the area before pulling the ball back for Istvan Ferenczi who couldn't quite get the ball under control.
Peter Taylor must have had a few words in the dressing room at half-time as Palace backed by a very very small band of fans ( the supporters also waiting for the season to end) looked more menacing without really having a cutting edge. With a strike-force of Kuqi and Clinton Morrison that does sound hard to believe.
Palace very nearly though did get an undeserved equaliser on 58 minutes when Morrison delivered a low ball across the six yard area that seemed to leave Ben Watson with a simple tap in but Neil Austin put in a stunning block to deny him.
With chances like that it became clear that 1-0 was too much of a risky lead and Nardiello again came to the fore to deliver an impregnable 2nd.
Another great ball from Togwell (I know I know) released Nardiello who was cynically tripped in the area by Matt Lawrence.
And then came the controversy. Nardiello brushed himself down to take the penalty which was easily gathered by Speroni ((the first penalty The Reds have missed including 3 shootouts since Nardiello hit an equally poor one against Swindon on the opening day of LAST season)
But for some strange and controversial reason the linesman immediately started flagging, presumably to say that Speroni had moved off his line. Speroni was booked for his protests and Kuqi disgracefully put his arm round Nardiello to try and put him off. But at the second attempt Nads hammered it down the middle.
If Palace weren't interested before then they almost totally switched off after that except for Lewis Grabban coming incredibly close with a shot that ricocheted off the inside of the post.
That though came seconds after Peter Rajczi came agonisingly close to turning in Reid's low ball to make it 3.
Three wins in a row, five points clear, Leicester next and Leeds could be relegated next weekend, dare I say crack open the lager and set up the barbecue!
Nick Colgan: Totally redundant. Had to collect a couple of back passes and crosses and was nowhere near Grabban's effort which crashed back off the post but not a serious shot to save. 7
Paul Heckingbottom: Played well and in fact was solid! Too late to change my opinion of him at Championship level but looked unruffled today. 7
Paul Reid ©: A rock! Big pressure on his shoulders after Nyatanga's departure but the skipper rose to the occasion. Won everything in the air. 8
Antony Kay: Another solid and composed display. Kuqi and Morrison became ever more frustrated at the lack of change they were getting out of him. Needs to be tied up to a new contract fast! Booked. 8
Martin Devaney: Had a "Cristiano Ronaldo" moment at the end of the first half as his tricks and flicks were put to good use to confuse Palace and worked hard down the left wing. Subbed. 7
Brian Howard: Had a bit of a nightmare in the first half and seemed to lack heart to heighten rumours he's off in the summer but became more involved in the second half and set up many attacks. 7
Sam Togwell: Two good games in a row!!! Got stuck in to break up the play and I've always stated if he did that he would be a good player. He's half way there if he continues! Booked. 7
Kyel Reid: His bizarre goal last weekend gave him this extreme confidence to shoot from every dead-ball! But his pace is blistering and put in a stream of excellent crosses especially in the second half. 8
Istvan Ferenczi: Nowhere near a goal again but his work-rate and link-up play is terrific. His role in the team is in my opinion allowing Nardiello to flourish. 7
Daniel Nardiello: No idea where this kid's come from….. If ONLY he could produce all season. Says he's fitter now than he's ever been, well if he stays this summer and has a good pre-season we could see the REAL Nardiello for a whole season next year! Subbed. 9
Ritchie Jones (for Devaney 71) Never really been given his chance especially at home and didn't really have much impact with the game won when he arrived. 6
Peter Rajczi (for Nardiello 81) Some fresh legs that the Palace defenders didn't want and was only inches away from making it 3-0. 7
Grant McCann, David Lucas, Robert Atkinson
Sponsor's Man of the Match: Daniel Nardiello
BarnsleyBoy's Man of the Match: Due to the fact Nardiello came up trumps again, he just gets my nod ahead of Paul and Kyel Reid.
Most Impressed by Crystal Palace's: Not many looked up for the game but Ben Watson looks as though he possess a lot of potential.
Ref Watch: Andre Marriner: His assistant with the chequered flag was more to blame than the ref today incredibly flagging Ferenczi offside in the first half when the ball was played to the onside Kyel Reid. Obviously doesn't know the "interfering with play" rule. As for Marriner- 7
Coca-Cola Championship Results Saturday 21st April 2007
Barnsley 2-0 Crystal Palace
Colchester 3-1 Sunderland
Plymouth 2-1 Southend
Preston 0-1 Leicester
QPR 1-0 Cardiff
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Coventry
Southampton 1-0 Leeds
Stoke 1-1 Hull
Friday 20th April 2007
Derby 1-0 Luton (Nyatanga scoring, Luton relegated)
The Weekend's Ups and Downs
Down :- Watford's 1-1 draw with Manchester City sees them relegated.
Down:- Luton's 1-0 defeat at Derby last night sees them relegated.
Barnsley lie in 20th place in the Coca Cola Championship with 50 points from 44 games. We are 20 points off the Play-Offs, 31 points off the Automatic Promotion Places, 32 points off First Place and 5 points above the Relegation Zone.
Coca-Cola Matchday Forty Five Barnsley v Leicester City Saturday 28th April 2007 Kick-Off 3pm
Barnsley Football Club are delighted to announce that ticket prices for this massive game have been slashed to just £10.00 for adults and £5.00 concessions!!!
Tickets are on sale now from the Oakwell Box Office as the Reds look to ram Oakwell to the rafters and cheer the boys to Championship safety.
Please note that these reduced ticket prices will apply to home areas of the stadium only. Supporters of Leicester City FC will be charged the normal full matchday admission prices.
Any supporter who has already purchased a match ticket in the home end at Oakwell at full price can get the difference back from the Box Office.
Reds supporters will be able to pay on the turnstiles at the reduced rate on the day of the game.
On The Road:
Coca-Cola Championship Matchday Forty Six West Bromwich Albion v Barnsley Sunday 6thMay 2007
Adults - £23.00
Senior Citizens (Over 60) - £14.00
Juveniles (Under 18) - £14.00
Juveniles (Under 16) - £11.00
Official Reds On The Road coaches will be making the trip to West Brom. Coaches will depart Oakwell at 9.00am on the day of the game and the fare is £11.00.