TYKES SHOW OFF PARTY SET-PIECE!

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Michael Beard­more

BOTH teams were off on their Christ­mas par­ties af­ter this one – but it was Barns­ley set to paint the town red while the Blues drowned their sor­rows.

Three set-pieces, two Sam Winnall goals and one hugely im­pres­sive vic­tory put the Tykes in fes­tive mood as they ended a mis­er­able run of one win in 11 to move back into the top half of the ta­ble.

Skip­per Conor Houri­hane’s de­liv­ery set up all three headed goals – Marc Roberts’ first-half opener and Winnall’s late dou­ble – and David Davis was sent off for the Blues for a sec­ond book­able of­fence in be­tween.

Tykes boss Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom was only too happy to let his men off the leash, beam­ing: “I hope they en­joy the party, it’s well de­served.

“We en­cour­age it be­cause it’s all part of be­ing a team. So long as it’s or­gan­ised prop­erly!

“I wanted them to put it to the back of their mind be­cause if you’re not care­ful you can lose fo­cus. They have been pro­fes­sional and done it.

“We spoke all week about putting in a per­fect away-day per­for­mance and ev­ery­thing that en­tails – man­ag­ing and con­trol­ling the game both when we had the ball and when we didn’t. And we did that from the first minute un­til the last.

“We’ve been ham­mer­ing it home to the play­ers about set-plays be­cause it’s a big part of our game and we haven’t been enough of a threat from them. We’ve worked hard and it’s paid off.”

Birm­ing­ham re­main fourth de­spite the de­feat, but that did not stop boss Gary Rowett en­ter­ing Scrooge mode as his play­ers went off to party.

He said: “Do the lads de­serve a drink to­gether as a team over the course of the sea­son? Yes. Do I want them to go now? Prob­a­bly not.

“There were too many play­ers nowhere near a good enough per­for­mance level.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­pointed that we’ve lost the game to three set­pieces be­cause that’s pretty un­like us.

“We had op­por­tu­ni­ties – Clay­ton Don­ald­son had a bril­liant chance early on and David Davis hit the post – but we didn’t cause them enough prob­lems.”

Barns­ley bossed the open­ing ex­changes but Blues should have led with their first real chance on 12 min­utes.

David Cot­ter­ill’s low cross into the six-yard box gave Clay­ton Don­ald­son a tap-in but a com­bi­na­tion of his com­pla­cent fin­ish and Tykes keeper Adam Davies’ light­ning re­ac­tions kept it 0-0.

City keeper To­masz Kuszczak pro­duced an equally good stop at the other end four min­utes later, his fin­ger­tips foil­ing a sting­ing 18-yard Ryan Kent drive des­tined for the bot­tom cor­ner.

Barns­ley’s su­pe­ri­or­ity was re­warded with the open­ing goal seven min­utes be­fore the break as Roberts glanced home Houri­hane’s invit­ing free-kick.

Blues still al­most went into the break level as Davis burst into the Barns­ley box and crashed a low shot against the post.

But Barns­ley were the bet­ter side, only an­other fine save from Kuszczak ten min­utes into the sec­ond half pre­vent­ing Tom Brad­shaw from dou­bling the lead.

And the game was up 20 min­utes from time when Davis saw a sec­ond yel­low for a high tackle on James Bree.

Barns­ley went for the jugu­lar and Winnall wrapped up the points with two crack­ing head­ers in the fi­nal six min­utes from Houri­hane de­liv­er­ies.

PICTURES: Alan Franklin/ProS­ports

ON THE MARC: Marc Roberts cel­e­brates Barns­ley’s opener

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