ALBION’s hopes of a pre-Christmas victory were dashed as Devante Cole’s double gave Barnsley a 2-0 win at Oakwell.
The Tykes striker, who had a spell with Albion on loan form Wigan Athletic was twice in the right place at the right time to convert from close range as The Brewers four game unbeaten run in the League came to an end. Unfortunately for Albion those four games had all been draws so the task of escaping the bottom four of League One remains a challenging one going into the festive period and the new year.
Albion rarely threatened against a side in good form and firmly in the hunt for promotion as the season nears the halfway stage and will know that there is work to be done to turn things around.
For the last outing prior to Christmas Dino Maamria made three changes from the side that started Tuesday’s unsuccessful attempt to make further progress in this years Papa John’s Trophy, Skipper John Brayford returned and reclaimed the captain’s armband as he slotted in at right back in a back four. The other changes came further up the pitch with top scorer, and former Tykes striker, Victor Adeboyejo returning along with Joe Dodoo, both of whom were not in the eighteen against Accrington.
Albion certainly started on the front foot, as manager Maamria wanted and an early chance came the way of Tyler Onyango but the young midfielder hooked his effort wide of the far post from the edge of the box.
Barnsley were soon going forwards on the attack with a corner won on the left that had Brayford momentarily winded but Albion stood firm defensively as a scramble at the back post saw Ben Garratt save smartly from a Liam Kitching header before lines were cleared.
Albion won a corner that amounted to nothing as both sides sought the breakthrough before the home side went closest yer, striker James Norwood curling a teasing pass through the box, missed by Cole, Jordan Williams sneaking in at the back post but unable to find the target from an acute angle.
Herbie Kane then tested Garratt when a swift counter left Albion short of numbers at the back and the former Liverpool youngster had room inside the box but was denied as he looked to find the bottom corner.
Kane also had a sight of goal as the first half hit the midway point when a clearing header fell to his feet but his drilled shot pinged wide of the post.
Nicky Cadden was finding space to attack down the Barnsley left and he got into the box just before the half hour mark but blazed over as Brayford got back to challenge him.
The home pressure was starting to tell and the breakthrough came on 36 minutes when a cross field ball had Albion stretched and when Matty Wolfe got in behind and laid the ball across the six yard box it was COLE who was there, in space, to flick the ball home.
Confidence amongst the home players continued to grow and with half time on the horizon Luca Connell picked the ball out at least 25 yards out but decided to have a go for goal and his effort landed not that far wide.
Half time: Barnsley 0-1 Burton Albion
After a frustrating first half where he struggled to get into the game, Bobby Kamwa was replaced for the second period by Jonny Smith and within a minute the substitute was played in down the right and whipped in a cross that agonisingly evaded everyone in yellow piling into the six yard box.
Albion won a couple of corner as they pressed for an equaliser but Brad Collins in the Barnsley goal remained relatively untroubled although it was the Brewers looking sharper as the half wore on and Sam Hughes was on the spot to head a chance towards goal at the end of a scramble inside the box with Collins eventually grateful to clutch the ball and bring some calm to his box.
But any hopes of a Brewers equaliser were dashed on 73 minutes when Barnsley, and COLE, had their second. Cadden picked up the ball wide on the left and was able to show a burst of pace to get inside the box and fire the ball across for Cole to divert it into the bottom corner.
Albion still pushed forwards and with Mustapha Carayol now providing the threat down the left, having come on for Onyango, Albion began to look a threat again and Victor Adeboyejo was inches away from a goal against his former side when Sam Hughes gut up to head the ball into the danger area after Carayol had worked room for a hanging cross from the left.
Brayford headed a half decent chance straight at Collins in the dying seconds but this was a disppointing day at the office for the Brewers where they failed to make much headway against a strong Barnsley defence.
ALBION: Garratt; Brayford, Hughes, Ndaba (Borthwick-Jackson, 76), Hamer; Taylor, Oshilaja, Onyango (Carayol, 75); Kamwa (Smith, 46), Adeboyejo, Dodoo.
Substitutes: Sinisalo, Butcher, Mariappa, Keillor-Dunn.
GOALS: BARNSLEY - Cole (36, 73)
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 9,423 (172 away)