The super reds won yet again to strengthen their grip of the play-off positions and leapfrog Reading to fifth position.
Goals from Cauley Woodrow and a brace from Daryl Dike was enough to secure a 3 – 1 victory for Barnsley who had to play the latter stages of the second half with ten men after skipper Alex Mowatt was sent off.
Ismael made three changes to the side that won away at Bournemouth with Dike, Sollbauer and Styles coming back into the starting line-up at the expense of Chaplin, Sibbick and Williams. No surprise to see Styles back in, plus the usual rotation between Sibbick and Sollbauer and usual shuffling of the pack up top.
Wycombe started the brighter of the two and an early corner was headed on target by the big defender Tafazoli but it was an easy save for Collins.
Barnsley went up the other end and had a chance of their own, Woodrow found Frieser and he slid the ball to Dike on the edge of the area but his powerful strike was deflected over the bar for a corner.
The reds kept the pressure on with a series of corners and free kicks but they were unable to create any clear chances from these. The number of corners Barnsley had was ridiculous. In fairness to Wycombe it looked as though they had done their homework and defended the near post Mowatt corner very well. Woodrow also had a go to offer some new variety but was a bit hit and miss.
The reds came again soon after when Palmer fed the ball through to Frieser on the right hand side of the box and his low shot was well saved by the 35 year old Stockdale in the home goal.
It was Frieser again soon after that came close to opening the scoring, a long ball forward by Styles was allowed to bounce by Tafazoli and Frieser got in behind him and made his way into the box but his left footed shot was fired high and wide. He perhaps should have done better with his shot but he showed amazing strength and pace to get the opportunity in the first place when the defender was clear favourite and Frieser had no right to get there. The improvement in Frieser continues week after week.
Wycombe then came very close when McCleary sprinted free down the right but his low cross was just too far ahead of Horgan and Sollbauer was able to clear. McCleary’s pace was the only real threat Wycombe had and the only thing we really struggled to contain from them.
There was then pinball in the home box following an Alex Mowatt free kick, the ball eventually fell to Helik towards the back post but his shot was deflected just wide for another corner.
Right on the stroke of half time though, Barnsley did take the lead. A cross was whipped in from the right and it was met really well by Woodrow but his effort was well saved by Stockdale. The ball bounced towards Helik who tried to stab it home on the rebound but he was pulled down in the area by Tafazoli and the ref awarded a penalty. I felt that it looked a soft penalty on first viewing and after seeing the replays I still can’t see why the ref gave it but he did consult with his assistant before making his final decision.
Up stepped top scorer and penalty king Cauley Woodrow who converted the penalty into the bottom right hand corner to give the away side a 1 – 0 lead at half time.
Wycombe were obviously very unhappy with the penalty decision and boss Gareth Ainsworth let the referee know as he walked off the pitch at half time. This frustration was to boil over in to the second half and set the tone for late on in the match.
The reds made a flying start to the second half and just a few minutes after the restart they doubled their lead. Frieser put in a long throw that was initially cleared but it came back to Frieser who crossed towards the far post.
Mads Andersen rose highest at the back post and he nodded the ball back into the danger area where Daryl Dike rose bravely in front of the keeper to nod the ball home to make it 2-0. Yet another goal for Dike and yet another assist for centre back Andersen.
Stockdale made a superbly ambitious attempt to bring the hosts back into the game as he tried to lob Brad Collins from the half way line as he took a free kick but his audacious attempt went over the bar. Worth a go with Collins off his line but had it been on target Collins would have recovered his ground.
After the second goal the game became very scrappy, the hosts were getting frustrated and lots of silly fouls and handbags around as players pushed and shoved each other around. Barnsley were being dragged into the scrap and soon paid the price for this. Cruising at 2 – 0 there was no need for Barnsley to get involved but they showed their inexperience by falling in to the trap and the referee had lost complete control at this stage.
First of all Styles was booked for a deliberate trip on McCarthy after he felt the former red had fouled Andersen for the referee to only award a throw to the reds.
Then with around fifteen minutes to go Alex Mowatt was shown a straight red for a challenge on sub Scott Kashkett. A sloppy pass by Halme put the captain under pressure his touch was a little heavy and he went in to win the ball. The Barnsley man clearly played the ball but as he seemed to go in two footed the ref reached for the red card.
This means the influential midfielder will miss the next three games which will be a big blow for Barnsley. He wins the ball really well but he was not helped by some first class theatrics from the Wycombe forward who threw in a few rolls and screams. And also the other Wycombe players surrounding the ref almost demanding a red.
Barnsley will appeal and I feel this could go either way. For me it was a booking at the absolute most but with only one chance to see it you can see why the ref gave a red. Whether there are grounds for an appeal with it being two footed I do not know.
What I will say about the card is this, Mowatt goes in to make sort of a block tackle and momentum turns it in to a two footed tackle. He gets the ball. There are no studs showing. He’s not dived in recklessly. He ends up off the ground but is not off the ground when he makes the tackle. I can’t really see any danger to the opponent. There is certainly no intent.
For me I wouldn’t even give it as a foul but I know the game has changed and it certainly has to be classed as a foul. If that’s a red though the game has gone and it will soon be fully none contact. Just my take on the way the modern game is going. I’m old school and I know a lot of people who agree with me and many who disagree also.
Despite going down to ten men though it was Barnsley who went and extended their lead further with a third goal. Morris did well to control the ball and he found Brittain down the right.
The wing back brought the ball forward before putting in a delightful low cross towards Dike. The cross was inch perfect and the inform American peeled away from his marker before tapping home from close range to make it 3-0.
It looked an easy finish for the big USA international but I assure I wasn’t. Morris set the move going and he and Dike really have been excellent signings in the January window.
It was Brittain who crossed beautifully for Dike and the wingback was excellent through at both ends of the pitch. He defended well, got forward and put some good balls in to the box, it really was an almost perfect wingback display.
Barnsley looked to be cruising towards a comfortable win but Wycombe did make a game of it late on. With around five minutes to go, McCleary put in a cross from the left which was deflected into the path of Ikpeazu. The huge striker finished coolly under Collins to make it 1-3 and give the reds defence a little to worry about in the closing stages.
McCleary got down the left again soon after but this time his back post cross was headed wide by Samuel. The same two players combined again soon after but again Samuel was unable to score, this time heading just over the bar.
As Wycombe pushed men forward, Barnsley almost caught them on the counter but two cynical fouls first by Knight and the second by Jacobsen put a stop to any break. Sibbick was especially unhappy with the second foul on him and he reacted with a push on Jacobsen.
This led to a bit of a scuffle between the two sets of players, the ref completely losing control of matters. Eventually things calmed down and the ref booked both Wycombe players for their fouls and Sibbick for his reaction. Sibbick to be fair could easily have seen red but the ref showed some common sense. But it was another case of a Barnsley player letting himself get involved when he shouldn’t have and it could have been costly.
There was a very late chance for sub Akinfenwa as he found some space just inside the area but his low shot was well saved by Collins to deny a first goal at this level for the veteran striker who’s time is running out to get that elusive goal.
Final whistle and 3 – 1 to the reds but problems on who will fill the boots of Mowatt if indeed he does have to serve the three match ban. Personally I would move Styles in to midfield but I expect Ismael to leave him at wingback and probably play Palmer and Kane for the first match at least.
Man of the match? – Dike, two goals for the young loanee gave his side the win but not only did he provide two goals, he ran and pressed all game giving the home defence issues all game. It would be wrong not give him it after scoring twice as well as his overall performance but he has to share it with Brittain who was excellent throughout and would have edged it on his own had Dike only scored the one.
A fifth straight away win for the reds who continue their fine recent form. They move up a place into fifth after Reading dropped points. The Barnsley manager confirms they will appeal the red card so will be interesting to see if they get that overturned before the big derby against Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend.