The scoreline probably flattered Sunderland.
The 11 players in Red certainly didn't deserve to be on the end of a 2-0 defeat but as has been shown so often in the Championship this season- quality always shines through.
Sunderland under the stewardship of Manchester United legend Roy Keane came to Oakwell on the back of 8 wins and 2 draws in their previous 10 games which had powered them into automatic promotion contention. They were backed by nearly 8,000 fans who swamped the North Stand and half of the West Stand to give Oakwell its second biggest attendance of the season of 18,207.
And in my opinion, although The Reds worked tremendously hard with the exception of the again pitiful Martin Devaney, Sunderland are the best side to travel to Oakwell this season.
At certain times in the first half the Black Cats toyed with their less illustrious counterparts and almost looked like they would dictate when they would snatch the first goal.
Barnsley's right side was easily the weak point. Devaney seems to have a fear or allergy of defending and instead of picking up a man, when the other team are in possession he merely stands there in his own little world, waiting until we get the ball back. That might have worked in League One Martin, but it certainly doesn't win you any matches in the Championship.
Also at right back Neil Austin was continuously caught out by the pace and skill of Sunderland's livewire striker David Connolly, but the rest of the team worked tirelessly to keep the scores level with Paul Reid and Lewin Nyatanga again magnificent in the centre of defence.
And as much as it probably pains me to say it, a special mention must go to left-back Paul Heckingbottom.
Whenever he's played throughout the season he's looked woefully out of his depth in this league but today put in a performance head and shoulders above ANY he's produced since joining the club in January 2006. There are still major question marks over his ability but at least today he showed how a left back should defend.
And in a day of bewildering upturns, midfielder Sam Togwell also put in an outstanding performance!
Whys it taken until March for these two to perform?!?!?
Anyway back to the game and although The Reds put their hearts on their sleeves, Sunderland could have been out of sight by half time with Connolly and Liam Miller going close whilst Brian Howard missed a gilt-edge close range header that would really have stunned the North-East outfit.
Sunderland missed the half's best chance just seconds before the interval when Dean Whitehead managed to wriggle clear but slipped his shot past the advancing Colgan and into the side-netting.
0-0 at half-time, very respectable and a real chance that if The Reds could hit on the break- like at Stoke another smash and grab could be on the cards.
It all started to fall together as well as Barnsley enjoyed a sustained period of dominance in the second period but failed to trouble ex Barnsley trialist Darren Ward in the Sunderland goal.
Istvan Ferenczi nearly got through but saw a shot well blocked.
And heartbreak struck on 67 minutes from a Sunderland break-away.
Daryl Murphy raced clear before finding Grant Leadbitter on the right who smacked a shot at goal that, inexplicably not for the first time this season went straight through Nick Colgan.
The Reds didn't let their heads drop however and kept probing but Sunderland refused to be breached at the back with Nyron Nosworthy in particular outstanding.
Simon Davey threw on Danny Nardiello for Rajczi but to no avail and Sunderland put the game beyond any doubt deep into injury time with Colgan again at fault.
Connolly cut inside and somehow fired a shot past Colgan at his near post. A good goal-keeper would have stopped it.
At this stage of the season results mean far more than performances and 2 successive home defeats are damaging especially with Hull, Southend and Leeds all winning today.
Its going to go down to the wire believe me. If you thought the Play-Off Final was nerve-shredding this could be even worse…
Nick Colgan: At fault for both of the goals. Cost us the game. 4
Paul Heckingbottom: After 14 months at the club he's finally produced. 8
Paul Reid ©: Magnificent again. The arrival of Nyatanga seems to have upped his game. 8
Lewin Nyatanga: Terrific. No chance of signing him permanently though. Will be a star. 8
Neil Austin: Never got close to Connolly to be honest. Sunderland saw him as the weak spot and exposed it. Booked. 4
Brian Howard: Quiet first half but became more involved in the second half. His ability is still restricted on the wing though. 7
Grant McCann: Another controlled display. Has a calming "McPhail" attitude about him. 8
Sam Togwell: Well, well,well. Why has it taken you this long to act like a defensive midfielder. Outstanding today!!! 8
Martin Devaney: Totally out of place in a struggling side. Has an obvious dislike of defending, chickens out of all the 50-50 balls and even the 60-40 ones. And his attacking skills leave a lot to be desired. Subbed. 3
Istvan Ferenczi: First time he's started without bagging a goal. Worked every so hard again though. Any chances were at a premium for The Reds. 7
Peter Rajczi: Quiet. But he's the man to get on the end of chances. We didn't create enough of them. Subbed. 6
Kyel Reid (for Devaney 63) Bigger impact than Devaney and created some half-decent chances from the right-wing. 7
Daniel Nardiello (for Rajczi 71) A brace in the Reserves got him this chance. Pity we cant play Leeds every week. 6
David Lucas, Adam Eckersley, Antony Kay
Sponsors Man of the Match: Paul Reid.
BarnsleyBoy's Man of the Match: Great performance from Reid. Togwell and Heckingbottom performed today but one good display doesn't deserve my vote! Reid for me.
Most Impressed by Sunderland's: They have got a lot of quality players and Connolly is probably the best.
Ref Watch: Richard Beeby: Fussy and seemed to have a blind spot for handballs. 5
Coca-Cola Championship Results: Saturday 10th March 2007:
Barnsley 0-2 Sunderland
Cardiff 1-0 Norwich
Colchester 0-0 Coventry
Crystal Palace 2-0 Leicester
Hull 2-0 Preston
Ipswich 0-2 Southend
Leeds 1-0 Luton
QPR 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Stoke 2-1 Southampton
Friday 9th March 2007
Birmingham 1-0 Derby
Barnsley lie in 20th place in the Coca Cola Championship with 38 points from 37 games. We are 24 points off the Play-Offs, 31 points off the Automatic Promotion Places, 32 points off First Place and 2 points above the Relegation Zone.
On The Road:
Coca-Cola Championship Matchday Thirty Eight Plymouth Argyle v Barnsley Wednesday 14th March 2007 Kick-Off 7:45pm
Adults - £22.00
Senior Citizens (Over 65) - £15.00
Students (With Valid NUS Card) £15.00
Juveniles (Under 16) - £6.00
Official Reds On The Road coaches will be making the trip to Home Park.
Coaches will depart Oakwell at 1pm on the day of the game
Coca-Cola Matchday Thirty Nine Coventry City v Barnsley Saturday 17th March 2007 Kick-Off 3pm.
Adults - £22.00
Senior Citizens - £11.00
Juveniles (13-15) - £10.00
Juveniles (7-12) - £9.00
Juveniles (Under 7) - £8.00
Official Reds On The Road coaches will be making the trip to the Ricoh Arena.
Coaches will depart Oakwell at 12noon on the day of the game
Coca-Cola Championship Matchday Forty Barnsley v Derby County Saturday 31st March 2007 Kick-Off 3pm
Tickets for the big game are priced at:
East Stand and West Stand Upper Tiers
Juveniles (U11) £7.00
Barnsley Chronicle Family Area
Juveniles (U11) £7.00
East Stand Lower and West Stand Lower
Juveniles (U11) £6.00
Enterprise PLC Stand (Pontefract Road End)
Juveniles (U11) £6.00
All Disabled Areas £20.00
Helpers FREE OF CHARGE
To book tickets for forthcoming matches simply phone the Oakwell Box Office on 01226 211200. Alternatively call at the Box Office in person; contact the Box Office by fax on 01226 211444 or e-mail email@example.com. Please note that Juvenile U11 tickets must be purchased in advance from the Oakwell Box Office and this price will not be on sale on the turnstiles under any circumstances.