SUR­VIVAL BAT­TLE

Town edge a point closer to safety as Reds give them­selves a life­line

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Dave Craven Email: dave.craven@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @DCravenYPS­port

THERE is a scene in Com­ing To Amer­ica where a bev­er­age seller at a New York bas­ket­ball game bumps into Ed­die Mur­phy’s char­ac­ter – the prince of Za­munda.

Stay with me here. It comes as quite a shock to said bev­er­age seller – the oth­er­wise un­recog­nised prince is in civvies wait­ing for the toi­let with other fans – but, hav­ing an­nounced he is a ‘loyal cit­i­zen of Za­munda’ him­self, pro­ceeds to de­scribe it as the great­est day of his life.

He flashes a huge, beam­ing, un­re­lent­ing smile.

As good as it was, Barns­ley head coach Jose Mo­rais will, of course, never say Satur­day’s derby win over Sh­effield United marked his great­est day.

Yet the bril­liant, al­most per­ma­nent smile he wore in the post­match press con­fer­ence cer­tainly brought sim­i­lar­i­ties with the joy brought dur­ing that clas­sic 80s com­edy mo­ment.

There may have been a few Barns­ley fans just like him, too; this was their first home win in six months af­ter a record 12-game los­ing streak at Oakwell.

But, more im­por­tantly, as they pre­pare to head to Ip­swich to­mor­row, it gave them gen­uine be­lief they can pull out of the Cham­pi­onship rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Wales in­ter­na­tional Tom Brad­shaw came off the bench to head the 88th-minute win­ner af­ter the Reds – 1-0 ahead at half-time – had looked like be­ing over-run in the sec­ond pe­riod.

John Fleck equalised for pro­mo­tion-chas­ing United with a fear­some left-foot drive in the 57th minute, the qual­ity Scot­tish mid­fielder slip­ping cap­tain Leon Clarke through soon af­ter for the striker’s 17th league goal this term.

From there, most peo­ple ex­pected the in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent vis­i­tors to drive on to a con­vinc­ing win es­pe­cially as trou­bled Barns­ley had picked up just two vic­to­ries in their last 25 out­ings.

How­ever, with some heroic de­fen­sive dis­plays from the likes of Liam Lind­say and Adam Jack­son, they dug deep to stem the flow against them and pro­duced an un­likely equaliser when Si­mon Moore could only parry Adam Ham­mill’s long-range shot to the wait­ing Oliver McBurnie in the 74th minute.

Then the club’s lead­ing scorer Brad­shaw – play­ing from off the bench again – ar­rived to head home Ki­ef­fer Moore’s qual­ity de­liv­ery to ut­terly stun their ri­vals.

How did it feel to pull off such a re­cov­ery?

“I think that’s foot­ball; it’s 90plus min­utes for a rea­son and you have to go to the end,” said Barns­ley mid­fielder Gary Gard­ner, who ini­tially put them in front with his first goal for the club, a thun­der­ous 20-yard drive in the 25th minute.

“Today it’s gone our way but over the past few weeks it didn’t. We’re just thank­ful the hard work paid off.

“We de­served that win; we showed great char­ac­ter to come back from 2-1 down and we need that for the rest of the sea­son.

“It doesn’t stop here. We’ve al­ready said in there (the dress­ing room) that we have to go win again at Ip­swich on Tues­day or this won’t mean any­thing.

“That’s an­other mas­sive game. Every one is like a cup fi­nal now we have to get as many as pos­si­ble.”

With the way they passed the ball so con­fi­dently in the first half, and then de­fended so vig­or­ously when un­der in­tense pres- sure at times in the sec­ond, Mo­rais’s in­flu­ence is un­doubt­edly be­gin­ning to show.

It was just the Por­tuguese’s sec­ond win since tak­ing over af­ter Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom’s exit to Leeds United in Fe­bru­ary but Gard­ner – the 25-year-old on loan from As­ton Villa – said: “The gaffer has worked with some of the best play­ers in the world.

“He’s come in and given us a dif­fer­ent style of play. At home we’ve dom­i­nated games as you can see and had some good re­sults.

“He’s been re­ally good to work with and I be­lieve he’s the man to keep us up.”

In fair­ness, it was United who dom­i­nated for a big chunk of that sec­ond pe­riod but could not cap­i­talise on swathes of pos­ses­sion.

Blades man­ager Chris Wilder knows he has started to sound like a bro­ken record men­tion­ing his squad’s in­abil­ity to kill off teams.

They have now won just once in their last seven out­ings, in­clud­ing four draws that look set to wreck their hopes of fin­ish­ing in the play-off spots.

United are down to ninth, four points off sixth-placed Mid­dles­brough, whom they host in a crit- ical game to­mor­row night, with five matches re­main­ing.

“It’s hap­pened too many times this,” be­moaned Wilder.

“They were hang­ing on. When you get an op­por­tu­nity to be clin­i­cal and go for the jugu­lar and re­ally go take the game away from the op­po­si­tion, the big teams – and teams that will achieve and get out of the di­vi­sion or play the big­ger games this sea­son – will do that.

“And we just haven’t got that abil­ity. We heap pres­sure on our­selves. For the amount of chances we’ve had, for the ma­jor­ity of the sea­son, if you’ve watched us, we should be com­fort­ably in the play-offs.

“We are not and we’re chas­ing and that’s baf­fling at times.”

PIC­TURES: SI­MON BELLIS/SPORTIMAGE

DERBY BAT­TLE: Barns­ley’s Gary Gard­ner keeps a close check on Leon Clarke, above, in the South York­shire derby which went the way of the Reds much to the dis­may of Blades trio, from left, Billy Sharp, Enda Stevens and Jack O’Con­nell.

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