Super striker Daryl Dike bagged a brace on the road for the second successive game as Barnsley beat Luton 2-1 at Kenilworth Road. The Big American did also miss a penalty late on before Collins pulled one back, as he usually does against the reds, for the hosts but the away side held on to win their sixth away game in a row, a new club record.
Barnsley started the brighter of the two sides and had an early half chance which fell the way of Adeboyejo. Mowatt clipped in a free kick from the right and it broke in the box for Adeboyejo, he turned well but his effort was fired well wide.
Barnsley showed how effective their press can be as they forced Luton into a mistake as they tried to play out from the back, in fact almost every time Luton tried to play out from the back Barnsley forced them in to a mistake. On this occasion Woodrow got the ball from Styles and he fired a shot from range that went wide of the top right corner.
Luton were again almost architects of their own downfall as they again were sloppy when trying to play out from the back. A loose pass was cut out by Barnsley’s press but Adeboyejo couldn’t get the ball under control at all and Luton managed to react to hack it away. I will never understand why teams continue to try to play out from the back against an excellent pressing team when they have failed after the first couple of attempts. Completely baffling and asking for trouble.
Barnsley were starting to get on top as the half went on and they came very close to opening the scoring when Callum Brittain found himself unmarked in the box, his curling effort though was easily saved by Sluga. A defenders finish in a striker’s position in the end. He should have done better in all honesty. He has spoken publicly about not having scored for the reds yet and I feel if he can just get one he could easily chip in with 4 or 5 a season with the positions he gets himself in.
The pressure did pay off soon after though as the reds did take the lead through Dike just before the half hour mark. Woodrow played a fine first time pass through the middle for Dike to run onto. He showed great pace and strength to hold off Pearson before firing a powerful strike into the far corner beyond Sluga. A great finish from Dike who also showed great strength and pace to keep himself in the position to shoot and not be forced wider by Pearson. It was also a great ball by Woodrow who really played well in this one after a few hit and miss performances recently.
As the half wore on Barnsley almost doubled their lead after a Mowatt free kick found Woodrow inside the box but the striker headed well over the bar.
In the second half Barnsley broke with the ball and doubled their lead. Morris found Woodrow in the middle of the park and the striker turned and drove at the Luton defence.
He beat two or three players before stabbing a shot towards goal from the edge of the box. Sluga couldn’t hold onto the effort and it fell in the box for Dike who poked home beyond the Croatian stopper. Great work by Woodrow in the build-up to create another for Dike who followed up like a good striker should. No assist for Woodrow for this but it was his shot after a fine run that created the chance.
Dike who was desperate to grab his hat trick was really causing the Luton defence problems with his pace and power. He went on a surging run from the left which almost saw him grab his third.
He picked the ball up wide on the left and just drove at the defence, numerous defenders tried to stop him but nobody could match his power but he dragged his shot just wide after making his way into the area.
Again Dike went on another run as he was found on the right this time. He was one against one with Bradley and the American bundled his way beyond the defender and into the box before this time being brought down. The ref had no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
Dike himself stepped up after being handed the ball by Mowatt but his penalty was poor and Sluga dove down and saved it, the stopper then reacted superbly to get across his goal to deny Helik on the rebound.
The action wasn’t done there either, to top off a crazy few moments Luton countered well and James Collins found space just on the edge of the box. The sub fired home an accurate finish to give the home side hope with around ten minutes of normal time remaining.
The home side really took confidence from that goal and they were well on top in the final stages but were unable to create any clear chances aside from a volley from Dewsbury-Hall that went well over.
They got the ball into the box as much as they could and put Barnsley under a lot of pressure but the away side held on for a huge win.
An almost costly penalty miss for Barnsley as they were left hanging on at the end. From having the chance to go 3 – 0 up to then conceding and being under the cosh was heart in mouth stuff for us reds fans.
Lessons can certainly be learnt from that last ten minutes. First of all there is no room for sentiment in the search for three points.
Woodrow was off the pitch so Mowatt is next line to take the penalty. Don’t give it to Dike just because it would be his hat trick.
Also why was Helik the man following up the penalty? He should have been back in position ready to defend any possible counter attack, yes the exact counter attack that they scored from.
I am sure all counts will have been learnt and won’t happen again and in the end we got the three points that we deserved from our performance over the 90 minutes.
Man of the match? Well it has to be Dike for his two goals but a few ran him close including Woodrow who I thought was excellent. I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Sibbick who was solid throughout and was swapped with Andersen in the second half to play on the left where Luton were more pacey. This performance could have ended the rotation with Sollbauer after his part in the Reading goal. Could you have imagined when Sollbauer first joined that we would possibly have three centre backs ahead of him in the pecking order without any decline in Sollbauer’s performance? No neither could I.
Boro next on Saturday as we continue our promotion push. The experts reckon three more wins secures a play-off spot but we will just be taking it a game at a time.