ANGUS SAVES GUTSY TYKES TO STOP SAM TAKING BACON
Striker scores for Owls on return
ANGUS MacDONALD’S lastgasp header rescued a deserved point for Barnsley after pantomime villain Sam Winnall returned to haunt his former side.
Winnall, 26, scored 41 goals in 98 games for the Tykes before joining the Owls for a knockdown £500,000 in January.
The striker – who had rejected a new contract – was barracked mercilessly but responded ruthlessly when home keeper Adam Davies tried to shepherd a harmless long ball out of play with disastrous consequences.
Robbed by Adam Reach, Davies could only watch in anguish as Winnall swept into an empty net and celebrated by gleefully galloping the length of the pitch.
Yet just as it seemed Winnall would have the last laugh, MacDonald connected with Adam Hammill’s free-kick to send Oakwell into raptures.
Adam Armstrong then saw a strike cleared off the line and Matty James blasted over as the Tykes very nearly got the reward their dominance merited.
“I’d have been upset if we didn’t get something out of it but it would not have been harsh on them if we’d finished the job,” said Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom.
“We were the better side. We had more chances. Everything that
could go wrong for us did go wrong but, other than the goal, they only had one shot on target. We showed a lot of quality in testing circumstances.”
Heckingbottom also absolved Davies, who was making his 100th Tykes appearance, of blame for the opener.
“Adam knows what he should have done,” he added. “But I never have a go at anybody for mistakes.
“I ask players to do things that will stretch them, make them better. It’s only natural they’ll make errors along the way.
“I was more angry that we didn’t drop crosses right on their keeper, which is what we’d worked on all week. That’s what I hammer people for, not individual errors.”
Decimated by the sales of key players in January, Heckingbottom’s side have now won just one of their last 11 matches.
This, though, was a display that suggested recovery isn’t far away. Inspired by the effervescent Hammill and underpinned by the graft of Josh Scowen, the Tykes controlled both tempo and possession.
Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal argued – with a degree of justification – that the home side lacked genuine chances, but a sharper striker than Tom Bradshaw would have made merry with the crosses that rained into the Wednesday box.
Hammill had a limp header saved, MacDonald another cleared by Jordan Rhodes. Barnsley’s attitude was summed up by full-back Andy Yiadom, who played for half-an-hour with a dislocated shoulder.
So they must have been sick to see Winnall – bizarrely hit by a Peppa Pig launched from the home end in the first half – wheeling away in celebration following Davies’s blunder.
“I didn’t realise until I heard the noise from our fans that it was him,” said Heckingbottom. “Some don’t celebrate, some do. Sam can do what he wants.”
In fairness to Wednesday, their back four dug deep, with Westwood saving superbly at the feet of substitute Armstrong. Tom Lees – described by Carvalhal this week as Wednesday’s own Gerard Pique – also lived up to his billing.
But their resistance finally crumbled when Hammill’s deep delivery was met by MacDonald’s downward header. The away side were then indebted to sub David Jones, who cleared Armstrong’s goal-bound effort off the line with Westwood beaten.
“The players gave their maximum and we tried to win,” said Carvalhal. “But we lost concentration in one crucial moment in extra time. The positive – OK, it is a small positive – is that we depend on us. Even though we lost points, we still depend only on us to make that sixth place.”
TAKE HIM ON: Barnsley’s Ryan Kent tries to outwit Sheffield Wednesday’s Jack Hunt
EQUALISER: Barnsley’s Angus MacDonald heads his team level late on and, inset, celebrates