BARNSLEY crushed county neighbours Leeds on a dream day at Oakwell.
Ricardo Vaz Te will hog most of the headlines after the early substitute bagged a brilliant hat-trick, but the whole of the Barnsley team were awesome in completing a well-deserved league double.
Barnsley boss Keith Hill opted to make three changes to the team that started in the Boxing Day home defeat against Blackpool.
Now on the back of a run of three straight reverses, Hill also reverted to a 4-5-1 formation with Craig Davies leading the line on his own.
Vaz Te dropped to the bench, while attacking wide-man Jim O’Brien didn’t even make the 16 for a potentially mouth-watering clash against a Leeds side who had lost their previous two Championship games.
Miles Addison and Bobby Hassell came into the starting line-up to strengthen up the midfield five, while at the back Stephen Foster was in in place of Rob Edwards to partner Jim McNulty at the heart of the defence.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson made four changes to the side which lost at Derby County last time out, with Paul Connolly, Mika Vayrynen, Ramon Nunez and Andy Keogh all getting the nod.
Barnsley: Steele, McEveley, Foster, McNulty, Wiseman, Perkins, Addison, Done, Butterfield, Hassell, Davies.
Subs: Preece, Edwards, Vaz Te, Noble-Lazarus, Gray.
Leeds: Lonergan, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Vayrynen, White, Brown, Pugh, Nunez, Keogh, O’Dea, McCormack.
Subs: McCarthy, Bruce, Becchio, Sam, Clayton.
As expected the atmosphere was electric as kick-off approached, with supporters of both sides turning out in excellent numbers in the unusually mild conditions for the holiday period.
Both sides probed and tested one another out in the opening minutes, although there was a scare for the Reds in just the third minute when skipper Butterfield went down under a hefty challenge just outside the centre circle and was forced to go off for some treatment on what looked like an ankle injury.
Butterfield limped back on a liitle gingerly, before Leeds threatened with the first clear-cut chance in the fifth minute.
McCormack lifted the ball neatly into Keogh’s path, but the Whites’ striker fired an angled shot wide from the corner of the six-yard box.
That was definitely a scare for Hill’s men, and it was Leeds who were pressing.
They came mighty close again in the 15th minute, as this time the dangerous Nunez controlled before lashing in a super drive from 20 yards which fizzed inches wide.
There then came a minute of totally contrasting fortunes for the Reds.
Firstly it was a tale of disappointment as Butterfield had to succumb to his injury, to be replaced by Vaz Te who entered the fray after just 16 minutes.
Within 60 seconds VAZ TE was to make the most dramatic of impacts, however.
He latched onto Davies’s short pass after the striker has bravely battled past Kisnorbo, before smashing home a brilliant low strike past a stunned Lonergan from just inside the box.
Cue pandemonium in the home ends and Vaz Te was clearly buzzing. Within another minute he had teed up Done, only for the marauding midfielder to mis-control the ball with only the keeper to beat.
This was building up into a real cracker at Oakwell, and Leeds were to threaten again in the 22nd minute when Nunez again let fly from 20 yards, with the agile Steele diving down low to his right to save superbly.
The visitors were still threatening with some neat interchange passing, but too often the finish was lacking and Addison was have a great game playing just in front of the two centre-backs.
Davies was proving a handful at Barnsley’s sharp end, and he tried his luck again in the 27th minute as Kisnorbo was forced to block his shot bravely.
The all-standing thousands of Leeds were being kept reasonably quiet, but on the half-hour mark they were raised when McCormack’s charged through the middle before seeing a powerful drive deflected wide for a corner-kick by Addison.
Vaz Te continued to buzz around the Leeds back line with menace, but in the 34th minute he fluffed a great chance to double the lead right in front of the masses of travelling fans.
Presented with a free-kick opportunity 25 yards out, Vaz Te blasted it high, wide and handsome as the visiting fans let out a predictable huge roar.
The Reds came much closer minutes later though, as Davies latched onto a smart short pass from Wiseman but could only blast a shot narrowly over from barely 10 yards.
Three minutes before the break Leeds threatened again as Nunez floated in a peach of a cross for Keogh, but Steele was equal to his header and saved well down low once again.
All in all it had proved to be a hugely satisfying first half for the Reds. They had defended valiantly, looked a strong threat going forward, and were probably worthy leaders as the whistle blew.
HT Barnsley 1 Leeds 0
It was straight back into the action with no further substitutions from either side at the break, and it was the Reds who had the first chance of the second period with Done seeing a well-struck shot deflected wide for a corner-kick by O’Dea.
The Reds were in dreamland in the 51st minute as that man Vaz Te dramatically doubled the hosts’ lead.
Done’s corner-kick floated over the Leeds back-line and there was VAZ TE lurking at the back off the box as he smashed home despite Lonergan and O’Dea’s best efforts on the line.
The Pontefract End went crazy as the Reds were now firmly in control and potentially homing in what would be a memorable league double.
That victory was all but wrapped on bang on the hour mark.
Leeds were clearly stunned and totally sapped of confidence and as Perkins charged forward, Pugh could only direct his pass into DAVIES’S path and the Reds’ hit-man curled home an exquisite shot which Lonergan struggled to even get close to.
Oakwell was buzzing and Leeds were now all over the place – lunging in for tackles and mis-placing the simplest of passes.
Davies again went close in the 65th minute with a similar effort to the one which he had buried minutes earlier.
This time his low drive from an angle fizzed just past Lonergan and the far post.
‘There’s only one team in Yorkshire’ came the cries from the Reds fans, and few could argue with them as their team had sparkled once again.
It was 4-0 in the 72nd minute, with VAZ TE pouncing to complete a memorable hat-trick.
This time the enigmatic front-man glided past White and the dismal O’Dea before coolly slotting past the distraught Lonergan.
Unbelievably O’Dea headed against the crossbar as Leeds staged the briefest of rallies, but this was totally Barnsley’s day and Davies and Vaz Te both came close to making it five in the closing minutes.
That was before sub BECCHIO nodded in for a scarcely-deserved consolation in stoppage-time.