BARNSLEY week to forget ended on a high as Chris Dagnall’s brace earned the managerless Tykes a 2-0 derby win over Leeds.
Both Terry Butcher and Sean O’Driscoll have turned the vacant job down in the last seven days, but the man currently holding the fort, Dave Flitcroft, is making a more than fair case for getting it himself.
This was his second win in succession and his side deserved to score more than the two given to them by Dagnall’s first league goals of the season and his first since the opening day.
In fact, it was the 38-year-old Flitcroft and not 64-year-old Neil Warnock in the opposition dugout who appeared the shrewder boss. Midway through the second half, in the midst of a third defeat in a row at Oakwell, the Leeds fans sang ‘Warnock, time to go’.
There was no obvious sign of the turbulence to have affected Barnsley this week throughout as they started well and carried it on until the end.
They tested Paddy Kenny after just 80 seconds when Jim O’Brien’s deflected effort sent the goalkeeper flying away to his left, while Stephen Dawson had legitimate claims for a penalty turned down when he appeared to be felled by Luciano Becchio.
O’Brien then shot over and Dawson was denied by Kenny as the Tykes mounted some pressure which nearly culminated in a goal as Marlon Harewood, almost in slow motion, drifted in from the left and cracked a shot against the foot of Kenny’s right-hand post.
Flitcroft’s anguish at his side’s near misses was evident and his mood did not improve as Jim McNulty’s header was cleared on the line by Rodolph Austin.
Even the loss of O’Brien to a nasty-looking injury following a collision with Lee Peltier did not affect the home side, with Dagnall twice going close at the end of a first half that was completely one-sided.
Leeds’ first effort on 48 minutes drew ironic cheers from their fans as debutant Ross Barkley dragged a 25-yarder just wide, with the Everton teenager then going closer as he spun onto Becchio’s knockdown and crashed a shot against the bar from six yards.
United’s presence as an attacking force was a fleeting one, though, and as the clock ticked into the 63rd minute, Barnsley got the goal they deserved.
Dagnall ran at Sam Byram and turned inside out on the right-hand side of the area. Byram kicked him and once Dagnall had wrestled the ball from Dawson and Harewood he sent Kenny the wrong way.
Even 1-0 was harsh on Barnsley and they put that right just three minutes later, with Byram again given a torrid time by Dagnall. The former Rochdale striker stripped down his inside after Harewood’s touch and duly put a shot across Kenny into the bottom corner.
Barkley offered Leeds’ best response with a cute curling effort which went just over but it was Barnsley’s day and they would have ended it with a third goal had Harewood shown better accuracy after sprinting past Jason Pearce.