Barnsley 1, Queen’s Park Rangers 1
For the second successive game a late goal proved costly for a Barnsley side struggling to steer clear of the relegation places.
At Wolves on Saturday a goal in the third minute of time added on robbed them of a point and another three minutes from the end of normal time at home to QPR on Tuesday night denied them a much-needed victory.
On their visit to Molinuex the Reds had deserved the draw that was denied them, but against Rangers it has to be conceded that Ian Holloway’s side were good value for their equaliser, even though it did come in the closing minutes.
The result leaves the Reds just two points and one place clear of the drop zone and it is patently obvious that they must stop tossing away points that they are so close to securing if they are to battle their way up the table.
They must also play considerably better than they did on this occasion, as head coach Paul Heckingbottom (pictured) admitted after the game.
“Performance-wise it was disappointing – and obviously the result as well,” he told the media.
Although he thought the Reds had been the better team in the first half he conceded that, throughout the game, they were nowhere near the levels they have been.
He was probably clutching at straws when he added: “On reflection, however, to play that poorly and be disappointed not to come away with three points shows we’ve come a long way” – especially taking into account the fact that this was only the second point that their opponents had picked up away from home all season.
Their manager Ian Holloway stated: “I can see why!”
But he also reflected that his side had put in an improved performance after half-time. “You’ve got to earn rewards and I thought we did that. We kept going, pinned them back, and luckily we managed to get an out-of-this-world strike from Luke Freeman.”
There might have been a certain amount of exaggeration in that description, but in the circumstances it probably seemed like that to him at the time.
Barnsley’s goal apart, there was little of note in the first half, but the visitors came out for the second period in a much more positive frame of mind and they were the better side, going close on several occasions before finally finding the back of the net just when it seemed that Heckingbottom’s men had weathered the storm.
The Reds showed two changes from the side which slid to a 2-1 defeat at Molineux, Zeki Fryers making his home debut in place of Matt Pearson at full-back and Chelsea loanee Ike Ugbo replacing Tom Bradshaw as the lone striker in what has become a customary 4-1-4-1 starting line-up formation.
They had more of the possession in a drab first half illuminated only by a stunning 20th minute goal from Harvey Barnes, who found the ball at his feet after good work by George Moncur and Fryers and curled it into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.
The only other noteworthy moment came when Adam Jackson looped a header narrowly wide from a dead ball situation.
Barnes was replaced by Bradshaw for the second half as the Reds switched to 4-4-2, but it was QPR who seized the initiative, with Jake Bidwell warning of what was to come with a right-foot volley which just cleared the bar and former Barnsley player Josh Scowen doing likewise with a header.
Ugbo had a powerful effort very well saved by Alex Smithies and the QPR goalkeeper also tipped over a dipping volley from Adam Hammill, but otherwise it was the visitors who were calling the tune and the Reds came under increasing pressure.
Jamie Mackie, Luke Freeman and Pawell Wszolek all went close and substitute Matt Smith also missed two good chances before Freeman was allowed too much time and space 25 yards out to send a shot fizzing past Adam Davies with just three minutes of the 90 remaining.
Barnsley (4-1-4-1): Davies; McCarthy, Jackson, Lindsay, Fryers; Williams; Hammill, Moncur (McGeehan, 71 mins), Potts (Hedges, 80 mins), Barnes (Bradshaw, 45 mins); Ugbo.
QPR: Smithies; Baptiste, Caulker (Smith, 74 mins), Robinson, Bidwell, Luongo, Scowen, Freeman, Wszolek, Mackie (Lua Lua, 76 mins), Osayi-Samuel (Washington, 45 mins).
Bookings: Williams (Barnsley); Caulker, Luongo (QPR).
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.
Attendance: 10,920 (335 away).