Last night saw the Reds travel to high flying Derby County in order to try and retain their unbeaten away status. The Rams - who infamously bought former Reds skipper Jason Shackell in the summer, could have gone top of the championship last night had they beaten the Reds, after an impressive start to the season, which prior to last night saw them take 18 points from 8 games.

The Rams named a line up which included several names infamous to Barnsley fans, including former Sheffield United forward Jamie Ward, Huddersfield striker Theo Robinson, and of course former Reds captain Jason Shackell - who last night celebrated his 28th birthday.

Barnsley manager Keith Hill again opted for continuity by only making one change, with Ricardo Vaz Te coming in for the injured Matty Done. The bench was on paper looking considerably weak however, with only 2 experienced professionals making the bench, which was padded out by youngsters Danny Rose, Jordan Clark and Paul Digby.

The game started much in the way of recent games, with the Reds beginning to settle into a calm and controlled passing game through the midfield with Danny Drinkwater and David Perkins continually finding widemen Jim O'Brien and Reds' skipper Jacob Butterfield. The Rams however had a reply unlike recent opponents, and played an excellently implemented quick passing game, enabling their forwards to have plenty of time on the ball.

Derby were the first to carve out any meaningful chances, with Theo Robinson testing the Reds' defence in only the 6th minute, Jim McNulty with the block in response. The Rams as a result had a double sequence of corners, and the side, evidently playing with confidence, continued to push forward. The Reds' defence however was more than a match, and upon clearance the Reds were able to take the pace out of Derby's game with David Perkins and Danny Drinkwater keeping things ticking over in midfield.

The game was to be marred by injuries, however Derby County were in fact the first to make a change, Stephen Pearson replacing Gary Roberts. The defensive reshuffle gave the Reds confidence and allowed them to gain 15 minutes of excellent momentum, with Jim O'Brien testing the Derby defence with a shot that was blocked by Shackell, as well as Ricardo Vaz Te having a shot blocked by Mark O'Brien. The Reds' momentum temporarily came to a grinding halt however in the 33rd minute, when pivotal midfielder David Perkins picked up an injury. The moment was bittersweet for Barnsley fans as they had lost their star man, however he was replaced by an exciting academy product in 16 year old Paul Digby, who many fans were about to see for the first time.

Despite a nervous restart from the Reds following the injury, Barnsley regained their momentum and within two minutes were ahead when some sloppy Derby defending gave Ricardo Vaz Te the chance to score, which was blocked at first, only to be slotted away by the captain Jacob Butterfield. Following the goal, Derby naturally aimed to get back into the game, however were thwarted again by the impressive Reds' defence, which was forced to make a change only 4 minutes later when Scott Wiseman replaced the injured Jay McEvely, marking the rise of the Reds' casualty list to 10 players.

The Rams started the second half all guns blazing and tried to capitalise on the loss of the Reds' midfield dynamo David Perkins. Crosses continued to appear into the box and the Reds appeared at panic stations, unable to get the ball into the Derby half. The Rams' endeavours paid off in the 61st minute after being awarded a penalty, which perhaps gave the Reds some respite as the Rams dropped deeper and allowed the Reds more time on the ball. Paul Digby grew in confidence and was able to find Barnsley men with increasingly ambitious passes. The Reds youngster had an ambitious stab at goal from 30 yards, however this was saved by former England under 21 international Frank Fielding.

Despite the Reds finding odd opportunities to get back into the game, the Reds came further unstuck when Ricardo Vaz Te was substituted 15 minutes from time after picking up the squad's 11th injury. Youngster Danny Rose took to the field, forcing the Reds to further re-shuffle into a 4-4-2 formation. Formation was to be the least of the Reds' concerns though, as Derby began their final pushes for the 3 points. Despite having impressive passing displays in the first half, it was in fact in this desperate time where the Reds were at their best, with tackles continually flying in left, right and centre and every man busting a gut for the cause. In the end the Reds could have been accused of having 'got away with it', however given that in the last few games the Reds were unlucky not to have won, it was a well deserved point for the team, and of course the magnificent Tuesday evening support.

Man of the match: Jim McNulty - Instrumental in a fantastic defensive performance, which spread right throughout the team. The left back showed last night that he is just as good in the middle as any natural central defender.

Teams and ratings
Barnsley: Steele - 8, Hassell - 6, Foster - 7, McNulty - 8, McEvely - 6, Perkins - 7, Drinkwater - 6, Butterfield (c) - 7, O'Brien - 7, Vaz Te - 7, Gray - 6

Subs: Digby for Perkins (7), Wiseman for McEvely (6), Rose for Vaz Te (6)

Derby: Fielding - 6, Brayford - 7, Roberts n/a, Shackell (c) - 7, O'brien - 6, Bryson - 7, B Davies - 6, Hendrick - 6, S Davies - 8, Ward - 8, Robinson - 7

Subs: Anderson for Roberts (6), Cywka for Robinson (n/a)
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Wilky said...

Great match report Michael. Interestingly, Derby had the fourth best form at home in the league coming in to this fixture. Which I think underlines the "battling" accomplishment of the Reds last night.

COYR for Saturday!

Thanks :) I have to say I was really impressed with how we hung in, as previously I would have expected us to maybe have gone on and lost with the way Derby attacked us. Great point in the end