Hull City 1, Barnsley 1
Adam Jackson (pictured) must be glad that his side do not have to play Hull City every week.
When the Tigers visited Oakwell in October he suffered a knee injury which sidelined him for four months, and on this occasion he was knocked unconscious after a clash of heads with Jon Toral and had to have lengthy treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off at the end of the first half.
Fortunately, although displaying a nasty gash on his head, he appeared to have fully recovered later when he was reported to be ‘eating a pizza and laughing’.
It was, however, no laughing matter for his colleagues after the interval.
Until Jackson’s enforced departure the Reds had been the dominant force in this vital relegation tussle and fully deserved the lead earned courtesy of Oli McBurnie’s fourth goal in four games, but in the second half they had to rely on their defensive discipline and doggedness to hold out for what could be a priceless point when the day of relegation reckoning comes along.
Head coach Jose Morais was full of praise for his players when he addressed the media after the game.
“We came for three points,” he said, “and we played a very good first half, but we were then unfortunate to lose one of our central defenders, and had to make a substitution we didn’t want so early. But we kept a good balance.
“In the first half we created a lot of chances and scored a fantastic goal from a creative situation that gave us the lead, and we really deserved our advantage.”
It was not until 17 minutes from time that Hull’s persistent pressure paid off with an equaliser, and that is testament to how well a reshaped Barnsley faced the challenge posed by Jackson’s absence.
Both sides were seeking back-to-back wins for the first time this season, but it was a very cagey start to the game, with the accent purely on possession, often to the detriment of more attacking options.
Hull had a couple of half chances, but it was the Reds who eventually broke the dour deadlock in the 22nd minute when McBurnie was left unmarked from a Brad Potts’ cross and sent a firm header flying into the top corner of the net.
There was an absence of anything else of note until just before the interval when there was a nasty clash of heads as Jackson and Toral leaped determinedly but fairly to win the ball, and there was a hold-up of eight minutes as both players received on-the-pitch treatment.
Neither was able to carry on, with Jackson, seemingly having suffered most, having to leave the field on a stretcher, and being replaced by Mattie Pearson.
The incident appeared to have an adverse affect on the Barnsley players after the break, whereas Hull, possibly reacting to stern words from manager Ian Adkins, came out showing much greater urgency and desire than they had displayed hitherto.
Partly as a consequence of that there were three bookings in the first five minutes – former Barnsley captain Angus MacDonald and Max Clark for the home team and Liam Lindsay for the Reds.
As the pressure mounted Morais opted not only for a second substitution just after the hour mark, but also a switch in formation to 5-3-2, with Dimitri Cavare, recalled to the side at full-back after suspension, moving into the central three and Andy Yiadom, having been left out of the starting line-up, taking on the wing-back role.
The latter had little opportunity to exhibit his attacking qualities, however, having to concentrate on his defensive duties as Hull continued their desperate search for the equaliser.
The yellow card count continued to mount. First Hull goalkeeper Andy McGregor raced out of his goal to bring down Kieffer Moore and the next to find his name in referee Mike Jones’ notebook was Barnsley’s Cavare.
MacDonald had a header saved by Nick Townsend, who was also tested by Nouha Dicko and Jarred Bowen, but it looked as though the Reds might hold out for a second successive away victory over relegation rivals, having beaten Birmingham City three days earlier, until Michael Dawson salvaged a point for the home team.
The Tigers had forced a succession of corners and it was from Seb Larsson’s flag-kick that Dawson volleyed home.
In the four minutes of stoppage time Yiadom finally managed to break clear down the flank only to be brought down by Hull substitute Frazier Campbell, who consequently became yellow card recipient number five.
And so a bitterly cold evening ended as it began, with Hull in 20th position in the table, one place and one point above the Reds.
However, this re-arranged fixture had enabled both teams to use their game in hand to move one point further away from the relegation places as the battle to avoid the drop hots up.
Hull City: McGregor; Aina, Dawson, MacDonald, Clark, Larsson, Irvine, Bowen, Toral (Keane, 45+8 mins), Diomande (Grosicki, 62 mins), Dicko (Campbell (70 mins).
Barnsley (4-4-2): Townsend; Cavare, Jackson (Pearson, 45 + 8 mins), Lindsay, Pinillos; Gardner, Williams, Potts, Thiam (Yiadon, 62 mins); Moore, McBurnie (Moncur, 78 mins).
Referee: Mike Jones.
Bookings: McGregor, MacDonald, Clark (Hull); Cavare, Lindsay (Barnsley).