This may be the most satisfying match report I have ever done. I’m sure most Barnsley supporters would have been overjoyed to send the Leeds supporters home with their tails between their legs thanks to a 1-0 victory. But 5-2? Barnsley scoring FIVE!! The last time this happened was back in 2005 when Scunthorpe were put to the sword by the same score-line, incidentally they followed that up three days later by thumping Bradford 5-3 in the FA Cup. But that was League One, that was Scunthorpe, a side who at the time had just won promotion from League Two and were playing a Barnsley side expecting to challenge for promotion to the Championship, which they did achieve that year.
Last night was Leeds United, massive history, massive fan base- highlighted by 6,800 travelling supporters, and this was the second tier of English football, a place where Barnsley hadn’t scored more than four goals in a game for 10 years, when they defeated Blackburn 5-1.
At times this was breath-taking stuff, especially in the second half. The first 45 minutes were poor for Barnsley, as it seemed the Reds were playing the name Leeds United, rather than the current incumbents of that particular club. Max Gradel was giving Bobby Hassell a torrid time down the flanks, Jim O’Brien failed to deliver a decent cross, whilst debutant striker Garry O’Connor looked well short of match fitness.
All this though became apparent after Leeds had taken the lead inside the opening three minutes.
Neil Kilkenny drove a corner-kick to the edge of the area, and whilst the Barnsley defence fell asleep, Jonny Howson swept it past Luke Steele. At that point you feared the worst. Leeds looked hungry and whilst a 20,000plus attendance is hardly going to scare a team used to playing in front of that every week, it seemed to get to the Barnsley side who were playing in front of the biggest Oakwell crowd since the FA Cup win over Chelsea two and a half years ago.
It was thanks to the rock solid defensive partnership of Jason Shackell and Stephen Foster that Leeds were not able to inflict more pain on the Reds, as they snuffed out the attacks before they could reach the area. This must have given The Reds confidence because as the half drew to a close, they started to fashion chances. Foster came agonisingly close to an equaliser on 35 minutes when he met Jay McEveley’s corner with a smart side foot, reminicent to Howson’s goal but Leeds had a man on the line to block. They grabbed the equaliser four minutes before the break.
It was all thanks to Adam Hammill- who allegedly turned down Leeds in favour of Barnsley in the summer of 2009. Hammill raced away into the area where he was clearly hauled down by ex Reds loanee Richard Naylor. To his immense credit, instead of appealing in vain for a penalty, the Scouse winger got quickly back to his feet and laid the ball off to O’Connor who produced a smart finish into the far corner. It was probably the Scotsman’s first touch of the ball but it was a crucial one, and as the teams went off for half-time, you sensed the momentum could change.
There was nothing though to indicate what was about to happen in probably the best 45 minutes of football seen at Oakwell in a long time. Leeds again started brightly and probably should have retaken the lead when Luciano Becchio somehow failed to connect in front of an open goal with first Lloyd Sam’s low cross from the right and then Bradley Johnson’s return from the left.
After that Barnsley and in particular Hammill took control. The 22 year old scored a wonder goal to seal three points in the previous home game against Middlesbrough and after setting up the equaliser last night he had a hand in EVERYTHING. Naylor and full back Paul Connolly simply couldn’t handle him and within three minutes of the re-start he had fashioned the second goal.
Down the left flank he jinked inside Connolly, drew keeper Shane Higgs, but under a challenge from Naylor fell on top of the ball, six yards out. Hammill though showed great feet to untangle the ball from his legs and stabbed it across goal where O’Brien was waiting, completely unmarked, and two yards out. He simply couldn’t miss.
That goal changed everything. The crowd were up, and now the players thrived on it.
The killer third arrived on 64 minutes. Hammill’s corner was flapped across his goal by Higgs and fell to Diego Arismendi. It seemed the Uruguayan would flick the ball back across the area, but from an almost impossible angle he curled it straight into the far corner. Now the Reds were simply rampant. O’Connor who was now absolutely on fire, in terms of holding the ball up and beating his man- Neill Collins- stung Higgs palms with a rasping drive and Jacob Butterfield did the same moments later.
It looked like the night would be capped off when Collins diverted Hammill’s cross past his own keeper for the fourth with 10 minutes to go, but amazingly straight from the kick-off, Leeds gave the ball away to Hammill and he capped a man of the match display, by jinking past three Leeds players before rifling a strike past Higgs.
Leeds did grab a consolation two minutes later when Foster and Shackell were parted for the first time in the evening and Davide Somma danced through to finish smartly past Luke Steele, but even that couldn’t take the gloss off an outstanding performance. This is Barnsley’s best start in seven years and the first time their points tally has been in double figures after six games at this level since 1996-1997. Whilst it may be a bit far fetched to dream of this season ending the same way as that one did, this result has given real belief that for the first time since promotion in 2006, Barnsley will start looking up the table rather than over their shoulders. And if Hammill can keep turning in performances like this, anything is possible. As the old say goes- Adam Hammill is a Red, is a Red, is a Red, Adam Hammill is a Red, he hates Leeds scum! He’s certainly proved that!
Luke Steele – Looked a little unsure with his kicking in the first half, but despite Leeds possession, he was rarely called into action. 6
Bobby Hassell – Struggled with the pace of Gradel in the first half but then marshalled him superbly after the break until Leeds eventually opted to use the opposite wing to start attacks. 7
Stephen Foster – One of his best games for a while. Completely nullified Becchio although sloppy play allowed Leeds their second goal. 8
Jason Shackell – Has the potential to be Barnsley’s best defender in many a year. Solid, comfortable on the ball and produced some terrific blocks. 8
Jay McEveley – Quiet in the first half but came alive after the break and linked up superbly with Hammill. 7.5
Jim O’Brien – Another who struggled to get going in the first half but the goal will have done wonders for him. Not heavily involved but still showed some nice touches. 7
Jacob Butterfield – If this doesn’t prove he should be starting ahead of Doyle every week then quite frankly, nothing will! A great shield for the defence, and gets up and down the pitch. Whether attacking or defending, he fits seamlessly in. 8
Diego Arismendi – This guy looks a class act. Scored a wonderful goal and in the mould of a McPhail or Howard, never wastes a pass. 8
Adam Hammill – I can’t remember seeing an individual performance as good as this from a Barnsley player ever before! Had a hand in all five goals and absolutely tore Leeds to shreds, especially after the break. He was simply unplayable. 10
Garry O’Connor – Struggled in the first half.. until he grabbed a goal with his first touch. Totally different player after the break. Held the ball up superbly, made some great runs, and his passes were spot on. Looks a million times better than our other strikers. 9
Andy Gray – O’Connor’s performance put him in the shade but he didn’t have a bad game. Linked up well with the Scotsman and kept Collins busy. 7
Nathan Doyle (for McEveley 90) Must know he has a MAJOR job to regain his place in the side. Arismendi and Butterfield are SO much better than him and Colace. N/A
Unused: David Preece, Kieran Trippier, Jeronimo Neumann, Goran Lovre, Martin Devaney, Liam Dickinson.
Sponsor's Man of the Match: Adam Hammill
BarnsleyBoy's Man of the Match: Adam Hammill: No doubt who the best player was. A world class performance!
Leeds: Higgs, Connolly, Naylor, Collins, Bessone ( Hughes, 48 ) , Sam ( Somma, 67 ) , Kilkenny,Johnson ( McCormack, 58 ) , Howson, Gradel, Becchio
Subs not used: Bruce, Clayton, Watt, Brown,
Most Impressed by Leeds’: Max Gradel: Tore Hassell apart in the first half and looked a class player. Went very quiet after the break though.
Ref Watch: Steve Tanner: Good game from the ref. Handled a white hot Yorkshire derby very well. 7.5
Npower Championship results Tuesday 14th September 2010:
BARNSLEY 5-2 Leeds
Bristol City 0-2 Watford
Crystal Palace 4-1 Portsmouth
Doncaster 3-1 Norwich
Hull 2-0 Derby
Ipswich 0-3 QPR
Leicester 2-1 Cardiff
Middlesbrough 2-1 Burnley
Millwall 0-0 Reading
Preston 1-2 Nottingham Forest
Sheffield United 0-4 Scunthorpe
Swansea 2-1 Coventry
Barnsley lie in 7th place in the Npower Championship with 10 points from 6 games.
We are outside the Play-Offs on Goal Difference, 3 points off the Automatic Promotion Places, 6
points off First place and 6 points above the Relegation Zone.
Up to 15.9.10.
Npower Championship Matchday Seven: Barnsley v Derby County Saturday 18th September 2010 Kick-Off 3pm
Adults - £25.00
Senior Citizens (Over 60) - £13.00
Juveniles (Under 18) - £13.00
Juveniles (Under 12) - £7.00
On The Road:
Npower Championship Matchday Eight: Reading v Barnsley Saturday 25th September 2010 Kick Off 3pm.
Adults - £23.00
Senior Citizens (Over 65) - £17.00
Young Adult (Aged 17 - 21) - £17.00
Juveniles (16 and Under) - £10.00
Disabled Supporters - Contact the Box Office For More Information