Match analysis: Peterborough 2 Barnsley 1

James Bailey is sent off
James Bailey is sent off

Danny Wilson showered praise on his gutsy Barnsley team after they had gone toe to toe with Sky Bet League One automatic promotion contenders Peterborough.

The Reds eventually came up short as Posh fought back from an early deficit to secure a 2-1 victory, but there were no complaints from Wilson.

His team even had to play the final quarter of an-hour a man light after James Bailey had been shown two yellow cards, but there was never the slightest hint of throwing in the towel.

The Reds had matched their lofty hosts almost every step of the way, and paraded spirit in bucketloads - a trait they will certainly need to draw upon as they gear up for back to back tough home fixtures against Notts County and Bristol City this week.

Wilson said: “We played our part in a great game. If we had come here, sat back and soaked up some pressure and been beaten 2-1 I’d have been annoyed, but we were really positive throughout and really gave it a go.

“We were exceptional.

“Obviously we were at a numerical disadvantage late on and that made it tough, but again the players gave it everything, and you can’t ask any more from them than that.

“Overall ,I was delighted with the performance. Some of the lads were outstanding, but I have been talking a lot about consistency and, while we’ve been beaten, you do have to look at the performance. I was pleased with it.

“We’ve been up against a team who are one of the favourites to win the league, and they will definitely be up there.

“But for us to have played like we did, on their ground, shows a lot of intent from our point of view.

There were no eyebrows raised when the teamsheets were handed out before the game at London Road.

The Reds were in for a tough afternoon against second-placed Posh, but boss Wilson named an unchanged starting line-up following the superb Yorkshire-derby victory against Bradford City six days earlier.

Wilson’s opposite number, Darren Ferguson, did likewise, resisting alterations after his in-form outfit had thumped Crawley 4-1 in Sussex a week earlier.

The Reds were facing a huge task, but, looking to build on a mini-revival of back to back league victories, it was they who began the game in the most enterprising fashion.

Many outsiders will have likened Barnsley to lambs to the slaughter against high-flying Posh, but the Reds were having none of it in the early exchanges.

Conor Hourihane saw a smart goalbound shot blocked with the hosts on the back foot, before Barnsley shot themselves into the lead thanks to a real eye-catching effort from Cole.

The Manchester City loanee produced another piece of class his father, Andy, would have been proud of as he charged into the box to meet James Bree’s sweet cross before volleying home clinically from 10 yards.

The travelling faithful were noisy as they celebrated Cole’s fourth goal in a Barnsley shirt, and it could easily have been 2-0 barely two minutes later.

Sam Winnall - who was also in search of his fourth goal so far this term - found space just inside the Peterborough box, only to lash a shot into the side-netting when he probably ought to have found the target.

It was after the midway point in the first period when the hosts finally got to grips with the game.

The woodwork came to Barnsley’s rescue when Conor Washington struck the outside of a post with a well-struck left-footed drive, while Reds keeper Ross Turnbull was forced into an impressive save from the same player a minute later.

Posh got the equaliser they probably deserved just as the game was entering first-half stoppage time.

A Jack Payne free-kick wasn’t cleared by a hesitant Reds defence, allowing Washington time to drill home convincingly past Turnbull.

It was a terrific time for Ferguson’s men to haul themselves level, and after the restart they played with a spring in their step.

However, Barnsley were very much still in contention, with Hourihane and Luke Berry both going close with strikes from distance.

At the other end, Turnbull was kept busy with Michael Smith and Jon Taylor being kept at bay, but the decisive goal came in the 69th minute.

Marcus Maddison was the architect, and he also finished the job in style.

Fouled on the edge of the box by James Bailey, Maddison dusted himself down and curled an exquisite free-kick into the top corner of the net to elude Turnbull’s despairing dive.

Just seven minutes later the Reds’ cause was further hampered by Bailey’s second yellow card, meaning they were now facing a mammoth challenge.

That task proved to be just a bit too much of a tall order for the brave Reds, though Hourihane came closest to a leveller in the dying minutes.

Peterborough (3-5-2): Alnwick 7; Bostwick 6, Baldwin 8, Burgess 5 (Santos 39, 6); Smith 7, Anderson 7 (Ferdinand 90), Maddison 8, Payne 7, Newell 6; Taylor 7 (McEvoy 78), Washington 8. Subs not used: Grant, Mendez-Laing, James, Oztumer.

Barnsley (4-4-2): Turnbull 7; Bree 7, Cranie 6, Ramage 7, Nyatanga 5; Berry 7 (Lita 89), Hourihane 6, Bailey 4, Williams 7 (Hemmings 75); Cole 7, Winnall 6 (Digby 80). Subs not used: Davies, Brown, Dudgeon, Treacy.