Barnsley 1, Everton Under 21s 1
(Barnsley win 4-2 on penalties)
(By Keith Lodge)
Barnsley’s penalty shoot-out success ensured that some sort of justice was quite clearly done at Oakwell.
For 45 minutes it looked as though only one team had eyes on winning the game – and it certainly wasn’t Everton.
With their five at the back reinforced by the four midfield players all that the young visitors from Merseyside offered was a challenge to their opponents to find a way through the mass of bodies blocking their way to goal.
During that one-way first half the Reds had four shots on target, three off, a good number of others blocked and four corners. Everton? Nothing
The Toffees did adopt a more adventurous approach after the break and thus helped to provide a slightly more interesting spectacle for the mere 2,000 spectators who bothered to turn up.
However, they were still flattered by the one point they gained from a 1-1 scoreline at the end of normal time, while Barnsley will feel that the extra point provided by their spot-kick triumph was hardly a true reflection of the respective merits of the two teams.
They both made their intentions evident from the first whistle. Although adopting a 4-4-2 formation it was Barnsley’s two defensive flank players – Jordan Williams and Ryan Hedges – who operated more like the wing-backs ostensibly employed by Everton, and the Reds dominated possession.
They found it extremely difficult, however, to penetrate the white-shirted barrier in front of them and for half-an-hour there was not a shot – not even a corner – in sight. The Reds were finding that these Toffees had no soft centre.
But as half-time approached there were finally signs of a breakthrough. A well-struck effort from Cauley Woodrow brought a brilliant save from Joe Hilton, the Everton goalkeeper flinging himself to his left to turn the ball away for a corner, and a minute later a low drive from George Moncur was deflected for another flag-kick, from which Jacob Brown headed over at the near post.
Reward eventually came five minutes before the interval, a well-directed and powerful shot from Hedges evading the desperate clutches of the diving Hilton. It might have been 2-0 immediately afterwards, but Moncur failed to hit his effort as cleanly as his team-mate had done and the goalkeeper had no problem in dealing with it.
The second half began in similar vein, Hedges, having been brought down just outside the penalty area, taking the resulting free-kick himself only to see a goalbound shot deflect off a defender for a fruitless corner.
Then, however, Everton at long last began to offer more in the way of attack, and in the 50th minute they produced their first attempt at goal, albeit a weak effort from Josh Bowler which was easily saved by Adam Davies, who until that moment had been a mere spectator.
Two minutes later a Bassalla Sambou shot was deflected for a corner and when it was floated across by Bowler it was Sambou who rose way above everyone else to head home the equaliser.
It failed, though, to inspire Everton to be more adventurous, and gradually the Reds began to dictate play once again, particularly in the last 15 minutes when Moncur had one shot blocked and another saved by Hilton at the expense of a corner; Brown headed over and then forced Holton into another save; and substitute Lloyd Isgrove headed into the side netting.
Everton’s only response was a shot from Manesse Mampala, which was saved by Davies.
So to penalties – and Everton never recovered from missing their second – substitute Boris Mathis being the guilty party – the Reds putting away every one of theirs (Moncur, Brown, Mike Bahre and Mamadou Thiam) to win the shoot-out 4-2.
The game provided the opportunity to give some of the club’s younger talent a first team opportunity, and Jared Bird was the pick of a quartet which also included Ben Williams, Jacob Brown and Victor Adeboyejo, but it was Moncur, one of the senior players on duty – there were ten changes from the team which beat Southend on Saturday – who produced the most eye-catching performance.
A draw with Bradford City at Oakwell next Tuesday would be enough to put the Reds’ through to the next phase of the competition.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies; J Williams, Jackson, Fyers, Hedges (Thiam, 60 mins); B Williams, Bird, Woodrow (Isgrove, 45 mins), Moncur; Brown, Adeboyejo (Bahre, 76 mins).
Everton Under 21s (5-4-1): Hilton; Browning, Astley, Feeny, Ouzounidis, Mampala (Lavery (86 mins); Bowler, Markelo (Mathis, 90+3 mins), Adeniran, Kiersey; Sambou.
Referee: Matthew Donohue.