LEE HAS THE LAST LAUGH OVER LATICS
Barnsley win is sixth in a row
LEE Johnson enjoyed a victorious return to Oldham as defender Lewin Nyatanga scored twice in a feisty clash which ended with the hosts being reduced to ten men.
Much had been made before the game about Johnson’s swift return to the club he left just over a fortnight ago when the chance surfaced to try and help the Tykes return to the heady days of the Championship.
The Oldham fans were not impressed with Johnson upping sticks and making the switch to a League One rival and let their feelings known when the visiting boss emerged from the dressing room before the game. But this was to be his and Barnsley’s day.
They secured a brilliant sixth straight victory – Johnson’s fourth since taking over – to zoom into the play-off spots, though they did finally concede a goal to Mike Jones in the first half, the first in 498 minutes of football.
Johnson reflected on another hugely satisfactory day, but one which had clearly been difficult preparing for and eventually seeing through.
He said: “It’s been a tough day, but it was fantastic to get the win and that’s what it’s all about.
“It still feels very raw, but it was just a case of being as professional as I could and getting on with the game.
“I understand the reaction of the Oldham fans before the game and I’m not going to hold it against anybody. Don’t forget I had two fantastic years here and everyone involved was very supportive. “I still don’t think everybody knows the full story, but I’m at Barnsley. It’s a new club for me, a new beginning, and we’ve got another great result.
“The first 20 minutes or so wasn’t great, but I enjoyed it because the lads played the atmosphere very well.
“It was passionate and charged at times, but we got through it unscathed and we move on to Tuesday now and a trip to Leyton Orient. “They’re in a really false position, so we’re in for a tough night. I think that’s going to be our toughest game between now and the end of the season, but confidence is certainly high in the camp so why can’t we keep this run going?”
The Roses clash at Boundary Park burst into life with three goals in eight minutes following a dismal opening half-an-hour.
It was the Tykes who broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute. Oldham goalkeeper Jake Kean saved well from Josh Scowen as he met Conor Hourihane’s in-swinging free-kick, but as the ball bounced loose, defender Nyatanga was perfectly placed to ram home the rebound.
It was quickly 2-0 to the visitors, this time in much more fortuitous circumstances as Carl Winchester’s attempted clearance struck the heel of Hourihane and the ball crept almost apologetically into the bottom corner.
It appeared that the Tykes were in cruise control, only for Oldham to swiftly halve the deficit as midfielder Jones drilled home superbly from an angle after meeting Conor Wilkin- son’s precise knock-down. Once Nyatanga had made it 3-1 to Barnsley in the 70th minute, courtesy of another close-range finish after John O’Sullivan’s header had struck a post, the visitors eased to the points which elevated them into sixth spot in the table.
Oldham skipper Adam Lockwood was sent off in the dying seconds after being shown a second yellow card.
These are sticky times for Oldham, who had themselves been play-off contenders before Johnson’s exit.
Caretaker boss Dean Holden said: “It was never going to be easy for us. We have got problems with missing players through injury, but, first and foremost, we’ve got to start defending better at set-pieces.
“We need a solution quickly because we’ve got MK Dons here on Tuesday and they’re a great side.
“Our players know they’re in a hell of a battle, but it’s really up to them once they cross that white line. We’ve still got a lot of points to play for.”
TYKE TERROR: Barnsley’s Lewin Nyatanga celebrates scoring the first of his two goals as boss Lee Johnson, inset, finished victorious on a difficult day personally
CONSOLATION: Oldham’s Mike Jones scores his side’s only goal of the game shortly before half-time
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