Fourth straight home league win for Barnsley FC

Barnsley v Oldham Athletic Kane Hemmings fires in a shot
Barnsley v Oldham Athletic Kane Hemmings fires in a shot

Barnsley rocketed up four places in the Sky Bet League One table as they edged out cross-Pennine rivals Oldham.

Back-to-back home victories over the past four days have now lifted the Reds up to a healthier 13th place in the table, just four points shy of the final two play-off positions. Kane Hemmings notched the solitary goal early in the first half, after which the hosts kept Oldham at arms length.

Barnsley v Oldham Athletic Kane Hemmings is congratulated after scoring

Barnsley v Oldham Athletic Kane Hemmings is congratulated after scoring

Both managers made just a single change to their starting line-ups.

Reds boss Danny Wilson’s only alteration saw recent capture Josh Scowen drafted in for his first start for the club in place of Dale Jennings, who dropped to the bench. Wilson’s opposite number Lee Johnson was forced into a change as injured striker Amari Morgan-Smith was replaced by 12-goal leading scorer Jonathan Forte up front.

There was very little between the two sides during a fiercely-contested first half, but it was the Reds who led at the break. Forte - with a neat chip - and Mike Jones - who guided a half-volley narrowly wide - had already gone close by the time the hosts fired themselves in front courtesy of a superbly-taken strike in the 13th minute.

A sweeping move through the middle culminated with Milan Lalkovic curling in a sweet cross for Hemmings, who volleyed home clinically into the roof of the net from eight yards; his fourth goal of the season.

He almost doubled the Reds’ lead a minute later, but after latching on to a massive punt from ‘keeper Ross Turnbull, he screwed a shot well wide.

It was the visitors who enjoyed the better possession between then and half-time, but they rarely threatened Turnbull.

With the Reds appearing happy to restrict Oldham to long distance efforts, Forte volleyed wide, while midfielder Jones fluffed a strike from 20 yards.

Oldham emerged for the second period almost five minutes before the Reds, and they had clearly been urged to up their tempo straight from the whistle.

The Reds’ back-line were forced on to the back foot within a minute of the restart, only for Forte to lash wastefully wide after meeting a neat through-ball from the dangerous Philliskirk.

The Reds again weathered a mini-storm from the visitors, and just before the hour mark they almost earned themselves clear delight by bagging a second goal.

It was the energetic Scowen who went close, driving a low shot inches wide after being neatly picked out by Oldham’s Ben Pearson.

Goalscorer Hemmings was then thwarted coolly by Oldham ‘keeper Jake Kean as he charged through the heart of the visiting defence to try and latch onto Conor Hourihane’s chip through.

The visitors - who could have zoomed up to fifth place in the table with a win - were becoming more desperate as the 70-minute mark passed, but again they didn’t make the most of a decent opportunity when Carl Winchester fired straight at Turnbull.

Hourihane almost made it 2-0 in the 85th minute as he smashed wide from 18 yards, but that was inconsequential as the Reds held on for the three points with no further scares.