Sheffield Wednesday 1, Barnsley 1
Barnsley were so slow out of the blocks at Hillsborough that the home team could have been out of sight after a mere quarter-of-an-hour.
Fortunately for the Reds Carlos Carvahal’s side failed to make the most of the opportunities they were gifted and ultimately a superb strike by Harvey Barnes (pictured) was enough to earn a somewhat fortuitous share of the derby spoils.
The Reds did eventually manage to overcome their early lethargy sufficiently to pose the Owls one or two problems in the second half, and there was always a willingness and determination to put right the things that were going wrong, but overall it was a disappointing performance in a disappointing derby.
A point did little to improve the standings of either side, with Barnsley now having won only one of their last eight league encounters and Wednesday only slightly better with one win in seven.
Head coach Paul Heckingbottom reflected that it was a good point in the end, considering how his side had started the game.
“Lots of individuals got things wrong,” he said. “We also got little tactical things wrong which put us under pressure. We know we can be better than that. But at least the players showed a real drive and determination to get a result.”
Wednesday had several chances in the first 15 minutes, when poor finishing, the woodwork and some good goalkeeping by Adam Davies prevented them from taking a thoroughly deserved lead.
Kieran Lee went closest to scoring with a 30-yarder that struck the post; Davies had to be alert to save twice from Tom Lees and a last-ditch Angus MacDonald challenge foiled Stephen Fletcher.
The only noteworthy effort from the visitors was a Cameron McGeehan free-kick which was parried by Keiren Westwood.
The Owls eventually made the breakthrough in the 34th minute, but even then it was from a mis-hit shot from Adair Reach, which looped over the head of the helpless Davies.
Frustratingly, the goal came at a time when the Reds were finally beginning to get their act together, so it was a big blow to their confidence as well as their hopes of taking even a solitary point from the encounter.
Heckingbottom made a tactical change for the second half, sending on Brad Potts in place of Mamadou Thiam, who had been in the starting line-up for the first time, with the Reds switching from 4-4-2 to the more familiar 4-1-4-1 formation.
The move brought further improvement to Barnsley’s play, although there were still moments of concern, particularly when Andy Yiadom was forced to head off the line from a Barry Bannan chip and Davies made another save, this time at point-blank range, from Gary Hooper.
Heckingbottom made a double substitution in the 66th minute, sending on Lloyd Isgrove for Adam Hammill and George Moncur for McGeehan, and within a minute his side were level, Barnes, who had just been denied by the woodwork, this time curling a glorious shot into the top corner of the Wednesday net.
And it was the Oakwell team who went closest to snatching the winner when Rhoades headed past his own goalkeeper only for the goal to be disallowed because of an infringement in the build-up.
As Heckingbottom commented it was a good point in the circumstances, but the Reds need to start picking up threes if they are to climb away from the relegation danger zone – and the next two fixtures provide ideal opportunities.
On Tuesday they travel to meet third-from-bottom Burton Albion, who are three points behind the Reds, and next Saturday they are at home to Birmingham City, one point and one place above Albion and two points worse off than Barnsley, who are in 19th position.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, van Aken, Pudil, (Butterfield, 66 mins), Wallace (Lucas Joao, 83 mins), Lee, Brannan, Reach, Hooper, Fletcher (Rhoades, 74 mins).
Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies; McCarthy, MacDonald, Lkindsay, Yiadom; Hammill (Isgrove, 66 mins), Williams, McGeehan (Moncur, 66 mins), Barnes; Thiam (Potts, 45 mins), Bradshaw.
Bookings: van Aken, reach (Sheffield Wednesday); Hammill (Barnsley).
Referee: A Taylor.