RESULT: Stalybridge Celtic 0, Barnsley 1

Lee Johnson led his Reds team at Stalybridge Celtic this afternoon
Lee Johnson led his Reds team at Stalybridge Celtic this afternoon

Barnsley began their pre-season preparations with a hard-fought victory away at National League North side Stalybridge Celtic.

Lee Johnson’s men enjoyed the majority of the possession but it was a second half own goal which was the only difference between the two sides.

The Reds included all four new recruits in their starting line-up, as Barnsley-born Marc Roberts partnered Alfie Mawson at the heart of the defence. Marley Watkins and Conor Wilkinson formed a front three with Sam Winnall.

The trio combined for most of Barnsley’s chances in the first period as the visitors dominated possession. Wilkinson, playing the deepest of the three, found Watkins in the left channel, who flashed it across goal with Winnall inches away from connecting.

A clever flick round the corner by the lively Watkins released Wilkinson who slid it through for Winnall, but he dragged his shot across goal.

Josh Scowen, industrious out wide, whipped a ball into the back post after Stalybridge had cleared a corner, only for Roberts to put his free header over the bar.

Christian Dibble was not entirely untroubled in the Reds goal, making two smart saves from the home side’s rare forays into the Barnsley box.

Stalybridge did have the ball in the back of the net late in the first half, but there was a push on Roberts as it was bundled over the line.

Despite looking disjointed as the half-time substitutes settled in, the Reds scored an early opener after a pacey breakaway by Scowen.

The diminutive winger brought it down on the halfway line and drove through the entirety of the Stalybridge half, before his cross was chested into his own net by Aaron Chalmers.

Barnsley again dominated possession and George Maris came closest to adding a second, curling an effort just past the far post.

The Reds are back in action on Tuesday evening away at Guiseley.