Result: Walsall 3 Barnsley 1

Lewin Nyatanga is mobbed after his goal puts the reds into a 1-0 lead.
Lewin Nyatanga is mobbed after his goal puts the reds into a 1-0 lead.

Barnsley fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Walsall as the visitors rarely threatened throughout a miserable second period at the Banks’s Stadium.

The Reds had been 2-1 behind at the interval after Jordan Cook and Tom Bradshaw fired the Saddlers into the lead following Lewin Nyatanga’s 29th-minute opener.

It was almost 3-1 two minutes after the restart when a Cook free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar before bouncing behind.

From that point there was a spell in which the visitors struggled to carve out a meaningful chance, save for a Brad Abbott effort which sailed disappointingly over the top.

Bradshaw went close at the other end as the Saddlers looked comfortable heading into the final quarter of the game.

Conor Hourihane fired a poor free-kick way over the crossbar in the 89th minute to complete a dismal day in the Midlands, with Cook making it 3-1 in the dying seconds after latching on to Mathieu Manset’s through-ball.

The Reds ended the game with two academy starlets in the defence after goalscorer Nyatanga limped off with a groin injury.

Debutant Jack Cowgill came on to join fellow teenager Mason Holgate across an inexperienced back four.

Reds boss Danny Wilson made four changes to his starting line-up in the wake of last Sunday’s disappointing home FA Cup stalemate against Conference battlers Chester.

Dale Jennings was handed a chance to stake a claim, as was Reece Brown in the right-back role.

Youngster Mason Holgate was in at left-back, while the travelling fans will have been pleased to see Devante Cole back in the starting XI.

Leroy Lita was dropped to the bench.

Barnsley almost broke the deadlock in the 20th minute, but Conor Hourihane blazed a 20-yard drive woefully over the top following a smart lay-off by Luke Berry.

Both sides showed up well in the early exchanges at the Banks’s Stadium.

Luke Berry volleyed over fro the Reds, while Walsall struck back with Jordan Cook’s 30-yard chip almost catching out Ross Turnbull.

Barnsley surged into the lead in the 29th minute.

Conor Hourihane swung in a peach of a corner-kick which Lewin Nyatanga leapt highest to meet as he glanced a header home.

But the Reds lead lasted only two minutes, Michael Cain drilling in a low corner-kick which Jordan Cook met sweetly as he crashed home superbly past Ross Turnbull.

And Walsall stormed into the lead in the 34th minute.

A second goal in three minutes came when Tom Bradshaw danced menacingly past a rather static Reds defence before slotting home accurately past Ross Turnbull.

Still the Reds couldn’t find that opening for an equaliser, so boss Wilson gave another front-man a chance from the bench - Kane Hemmings.

He replaced Brad Abbott.

Jack Cowgill was handed his Barnsley debut in the 79th minute as a replacement for groin injury victim Lewin Nyatanga.

Walsall (4-4-2): O’Donnell;, Purkiss, Downing, Chambers, Henry; Baxendale, Cain, Chambers, Cook; Sawyers, Bradshaw.Subs: O’Connor, McGillivray, Benning, Flanagan, Grimes, Forde, Manset.

Barnsley (4-5-1): Turnbull; Brown, Nyatanga, Cranie, Holgate; Jennings, Berry, Hourihane, Abbott, Trotta; Cole. Subs: Treacy, Hemmings, Davies, Digby, Boakye-Yiadom, Cowgill, Lita.

Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).