Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane, who had earlier missed a penalty, denied Sheffield United maximum points from today’s South Yorkshire derby at Oakwell.
Chris Basham appeared to have scored the only goal of the game when he profited from Bob Harris’ expertise at dead ball situations, to head decisively home beyond Adam Davies.
The Barnsley goalkeeper was powerless to prevent United taking the lead but made excellent blocks to prevent the visitors from extending their advantage. In the other net, George Long excelled himself to deny Conor Hourihane from the spot just before the hour mark. Barnsley, who later saw Sam Winnall hit the post with a glancing header and Lewin Nyantaga deposit a header on the top of the crossbar, showed commendable tenacity. It paid off in the 94th minute when
Hourihane lashed home a memorable finish to level.
United, making five changes to the starting 11 beaten 4-2 by Shrewsbury Town in midweek, were clearly intent on posing Barnsley’s defence some early questions. And they did so with some success before Lee Johnson’s side began to edge themselves into the game.
Matt Done saw a shot deflected behind for a first minute corner after combining well with Jamal Campbell-Ryce. Two minutes later, Basham was preparing to tap home from close range after being picked-out by Paul Coutts but the ball was hacked away.
Confidence among both squads was at a low ebb following their disappointing form in recent weeks but, to Barnsley’s credit, they recovered to forge some chances of their own. Marley Watkins glanced a header wide following a good period of pressure and :Lloyd Isgrove could, indeed should, have scored after George Long, again preferred to Mark Howard in goal, had saved well from Winnall. Instead, he dragged wide from four yards out and it proved to be a costly error when Basham gave United an 18th minute lead after Billy Sharp had seen a close-range effort smothered by Davies, Dean Hammond’s superb long-range pass had sent the centre-forward scampering through.
Done was cautioned in the 35th minute for a scything challenge on Aidy White but the resulting set-piece broke down when referee Neil Swarbrick blocked the ball. Harris, whose corner had led to United’s opener, swept another excellent delivery into the penalty box just before the interval but, on this occasion, Barnsley survived. Just.
Johnson sent his players out early at the start of the second-half having clearly demanded a response. Basham shot wide after some good work by Sharp before the hosts picked-up the gauntlet thrown down by their manager.
Watkins released Adam Hammill and when the winger went down under Neill Collins’ 53rd minute challenge, Swarbrick pointed to the spot. Hourinhane placed his penalty low towards the foot of Long’s right hand post but rhe youngster produced a splendid save to tip the ball away to safety. That incident injected fresh impetus into the game with Sharp and Done all being denied by Davies who, by now, was keeping Barnsley in the game. In between those chances, Coutts fired over the crossbar.
Then, in the 79th minute, Barnsley were denied by a post when Winnall’s glancing header across Long struck the upright and was scrambled clear. Nyatranga also hit thw woodwork before, in the 94th minute, Hourihane unleashed a vicious drive from just outside the area which Long had no chance of meeting.
Barnsley: Davies, Wabara, Mawson, Nyatanga, White (Smith 78), Isgrove (Williams 71), Hourihane, Pearson, Hammill, Watkins (Toney 71), Winnall. Not used: Townsend, Roberts, Toney, Bree, Jackson.
Sheffield United: Long, Campbell-Ryce (Woolford 70), Harris, Edgar (McEveley 90), Basham, Collins, Sharp, Done, Hammond, Coutts, Brayford. Not used: Howard, McEveley, Freeman, Reed, Adams, Sammon.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).