A superb Callum Style strike and first goal for Daryl Dike secured all three points for the super reds as they leapfrogged Stoke City in the league table.
Barnsley claimed their fourth win in a row and moved to within a point of the playoff places. Goals in either half from Callum Styles and a first in English football for January signing Daryl Dike were enough to get the home side all three points at Oakwell.
As usual, Ismael made changes with Morris getting a start after some impressive appearances from the bench. He was joined by Woodrow and Freiser in attack as the Barnsley boss shuffled his front three yet again in a bid to keep all six forwards fresh and firing. An approach that is certainly paying off at the moment.
Barnsley started brightly and they came close early on when Frieser was moments from heading home only to be denied by a great-headed clearance by Batth at the back. The home side sprung a quick attack and the ref played a good advantage allowing Brittain to cross towards the back post.
Frieser was poised to head home unmarked but Batth did come to the rescue to clear well for a corner. From the resulting corner though, Barnsley did take the lead, and what a strike it was from the excellent Callum Styles.
The corner was played in towards the front post but was easily headed clear by the Stoke defence. The ball went as far as Styles on the edge of the area who took a touch closer to goal but also wider and he hit a fantastic strike with his left foot from twenty-five yards or so into the far corner.
Barnsley had the ball in the net late in the first half but the flag went up to rule it out for offside. It was good football between Woodrow and Frieser and it was Woodrow who flicked the ball through for Frieser who lobbed the keeper from just inside the area to score but the flag went up to deny him. Frieser had made his run when the initial pass was made to Woodrow hoping that the ball would bypass Woodrow and go direct to him. It was a much improved performance for Frieser who for me had his best game in a red shirt. For me he is the weak link out of the six front men but improved performances like this will mean he can be more than just a work horse in that front line.
Half time came and to sum up the half, Barnsley had started the brightest and took an early lead; Stoke did get back into the game after the goal and had more of the ball but were unable to create any clear chances despite a good number of crosses into the box especially from Smith down the right.
It was a very tame start to the second half which prompted both managers to turn to the benches to try and get things going again. Stoke were the first to go to the bench and this saw them change formation too in an attempt to get back level. Barnsley were the happier of the two sides and looking fairly comfortable so it was on Stoke to try and get back in to the game.
Barnsley then also looked to the bench as they looked to freshen up the attack as they so often do around the hour mark. Morris and Frieser made way for Adeboyejo and Dike as Ismael looked to add more physicality to the front line to compete with the big Stoke centre backs. Dike took the central role meaning that Woodrow moved out wide.
The changes didn’t really help Stoke as the change of shape nullified the threat they had in the first half down the right. This was totally removed when Smith was subbed off as Stoke tried to match Barnsley with a back three. Teams with premier league players in their squad like Stoke, coming to teams like Barnsley and having to change formation to match us up, are times changing?
The game looked to be fizzling out to a 1-0 home win but late in the game Barnsley rallied to kill the game off. They came close when Styles got down the wing to cross, the ball bobbled around in the box but neither Dike nor Adeboyejo could turn it home and Batth was again on hand to clear.
With time ticking away, Adeboyejo did superbly well to beat his man down the right and he crossed towards fellow sub Dike but Souttar just got there first to turn it behind to deny the American loanee tap in.
The resulting corner was whipped in by Mowatt but was initially cleared and Stoke looked to counter. Adeboyejo tracked back so well and he easily outmuscled Clarke who tried to break away, the striker then turned and picked out Chaplin with a pass.
Chaplin brought the ball down and threaded the ball through to Dike who timed his run perfectly before slotting the ball into the net to make it two and seal the points for the reds in the final minute of normal time.
Overall it was a pretty poor game with few clear chances. Barnsley took the chances that fell to them in what was a professional performance that moves them within a point of the playoffs with a game in hand.
It was a fourth league win on the bounce for the reds who now entertain Millwall on Saturday hoping to make it five.