Reds Match Report: Middlesbrough 2 Barnsley 3
HEROIC Barnsley did the business again as they battled back from behind to stun promotion-chasers Middlesbrough.
Can new boss David Flitcroft no wrong? That’s seven games unbeaten in all competitions for Flitcroft’s confident charges who, after a poor start to the season, having finally come good with some fine tuning.
And amazingly it was Jason Scotland who again bagged a priceless winner, pouncing with 14 minutes to go for his third goal in as many substitute appearances since joining on a free transfer.
Frustratingly, the three points still weren’t enough to lift the resurgent Reds out of the Championship drop zone as Wolves equalised very late against Leeds United.
But that didn’t concern Flitcroft whose challenges to his players continue to reap dividends.
Following a hard-fought fourth straight win - and a sixth in seven games in league and cup - Flitcroft said: “I have made a few tweaks and changes since I took over the manager’s job and I have been forced to put quite a few fires out behind the scenes. But I can’t fault the way any of the players have reacted.
“I’ve been asking the players to be heroes for Barnsley Football Club, to be the new heroes, and we can clearly achieve something now.
“We’ve achieved nothing yet, but I want to build a team the club can be proud of.
“I want the local community to come and watch their team and if the players continue this form this is exactly what will happen.”
It was no surprise at all when boss Flitcroft stuck with the same starting line-up for the trip to the North-east.
Three straight victories meant there was no need for Flitcroft to make alterations to his starting side.
The hosts needed to get their faltering promotion push back on track following a worrying run of form of late.
Boro would remain in sixth position in the Championship table whatever the outcome, but ahead of the game they hadn’t picked up a single point in 2013 having endured four straight defeats.
Judging by their first-half showing, it was no surprise they had been pointless this year.
The Reds dominated throughout, although they led by only one goal at the break, handed to them by Jim O’Brien after just six minutes.
The fiery Scot latched expertly on to Tom Kennedy’s long through-ball before firing past Jason Steele from an angle, via a slight deflection off the boot of former Doncaster full-back George Friend.
Emmanuel Ledesma was lively and twice tested Reds keeper Luke Steele, but Marlon Harewood thumped in a great 25-yard strike at the other end which Boro keeper Jason Steele palmed away acrobatically.
The game then burst into life after the restart. Two Boro goals inside ten minutes turned the match on its head.
Mustapha Carayol, playing his first game since September following injury, levelled it up from close range after 50 minutes when Steele parried a Stephen Foster back-pass into his path.
Harewood went close at the other end, but Boro roared into the lead just past the hour mark.
This time Rhys Williams’ cross flicked up off the boot of Foster and fell invitingly for sub Curtis Main who nodded home easily at the far post.
Suddenly the Reds were up against it and were facing a real test of character. It was a test they were to pass with flying colours.
Scott Golbourne levelled with 21 minutes to go after a trademark booming throw into the box from Rory Delap caused panic in the Boro defence.
The ball wasn’t cleared, Kelvin Etuhu guided a pass to Golbourne and the wing-back rammed his first goal of the season high into the roof of the net.
The winner from Scotland came seven minutes later in crazy circumstances.
A Seb Hines’ back-pass wasn’t good enough to reach Steele, who found himself under pressure from the tireless Chris Dagnall.
An indirect free-kick was awarded on the corner of the six-yard box, and as Golbourne tapped the ball sideways to Scotland, the former Ipswich, Wigan and Swansea marksman smashed an unstoppable effort through the considerably manned wall and high into the net. Again the goal took a deflection.
Grant Leadbitter and Andre Bikey came closest to equalising late on, but the Reds stood strong and saw the game out to make sure of three more welcome points in their battle to retain their Championship status.
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Weather for Sheffield
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South