“It’s exactly what we need and what we are fighting for” – Barnsley 3 – 2 Middlesbrough

Written by Liam O'Connor

Barnsley continued their impressive recent form after holding on to a 3-2 home win over play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough.

The Tykes made it three wins from four to put themselves within sight of safety, six points behind fellow strugglers Reading with a game in hand over the Berkshire side.

The home side raced into a three-goal lead just after half-time thanks to Mads Juel Andersen and a brace from Metz loanee Amine Bassi.

Middlesbrough replied through Andraž Šporar and a late own goal deep into stoppage time from Liam Kitching, but fall to eighth, two points behind Luton in sixth.

Barnsley raced into an early lead after Andersen thumped home a header from a teasing Bassi cross.

Provider soon turned goalscorer ten minutes later, as Carlton Morris laid the ball to Bassi just inside the box and he slotted in with a cool left-footed finish.

Boro attempted to hit back quickly but Isaiah Jones volleyed over before second-half substitute Folarin Balogun struck the bar as Chris Wilder’s side turned up the pressure.

However it was Bassi, dubbed the ‘Moroccan Messi’ by the Oakwell faithful, who lived up to his moniker to add a third, holding off an attempt from Anfernee Dijksteel to wrestle him to the ground and squirm a finish under the despairing Joe Lumley.

The away side reduced the deficit to two on the hour mark after Jones teased a foul from Rema Vita inside the box, resulting in a penalty which the Slovenian Šporar easily dispatched.

Wilder’s men began to dominate, with Balogun hitting the woodwork again with a curling left foot effort, before the pressure finally told and Liam Kitching was forced to divert a dangerous low ball from Dijksteel into his own net.

It proved to be too little too late for the visitors, as Oakwell erupted into celebration of a huge win.

Tykes boss Poya Asbaghi was delighted with his team’s performance and character against a high-flying opponent.

“We’d talked about going out aggressive and really trying to take control of the game and I think we accomplished that,” Asbaghi said. 

“It was well deserved going into half-time with that lead and we wanted to go out in the second half and try to chase the third goal, which we did.

“Overall, during 90 minutes, it’s a really good performance – first half is brilliant, and it’s an impressive performance from the lads to earn us three points.”

Mads Andersen echoed the sentiments of his manager, with the Dane citing the win as a huge confidence boost before the remaining games.

“I am very happy,” asserted Andersen. “It’s exactly what we need and what we are fighting for, so I’m confident in the next games coming up.

“It will give us big confidence, especially in scoring goals, which is important to win football games. I’m a little unhappy with conceding two goals, but we’ll take the win.”

Barnsley travel to Derby on Saturday, in a season defining game, while Boro welcome Tottenham on Tuesday in the FA Cup 5th round.

Written by Liam O'Connor

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