Poor Run Continues
Another disappointing result saw Derby fall to their third consecutive defeat against a struggling Barnsley side that looked happy with a point at the start as they were content to simply get men behind the ball. Rob Hulse gave the home side the lead and had a glorious chance from four yards out that would have tied the game up as the visitors offered little going forward. However, the ball ended up wide of the mark and then Adam Hammill scored a superb equaliser after being given too much time to cut inside and his side slowly grew in confidence. It still looked like only one side was going to win but defensive lapses conspired to give The Tykes a 3-1 lead going into injury time and a late Barker goal was to little to late a frustrating evening not helped by some eccentric refereeing.
Paul Green and Stephen Pearson both missed out with injuries, although the former Celtic man did take a place on the bench, so Nigel Clough was forced to reshuffle his pack and went back to four in midfield with Jake Livermore coming into the middle and Kris Commons starting just behind Rob Hulse through the middle. Hulse himself had not trained prior to the match due to illness and there was also a place on the bench for new signing Lee Hendrie. The visitors lined-up with former Rams Rob Kozluk and Darren Moore, who got a generous welcome from the home fans, starting and Jon Macken on the bench.
Barnsley looked to have come to Pride Park to frustrate The Rams with their line-up having a defensive look to it with Colace lining up just in front of the back four and he picked up an early booking for hauling down Lee Croft in full flight. Derby were dominating the early possession and some neat build-up play saw Livermore cleverly find Hulse and the striker turned and fired in an effort that was deflected behind.
Dean Moxey was next to threaten when a half-clearance found him on the edge of the box but his shot whistled narrowly wide with Preece well beaten in the visitors goal. Barnsley were content getting men behind the ball and despite having large periods of pressure The Rams were not creating many clear cut chances due to these tactics although a Kris Commons ball across the middle very nearly picked out Rob Hulse but the striker couldn`t quite reach the cross.
The breakthrough eventually came on twenty seven minutes when Barnsley couldn`t clear their lines from a corner and Lee Croft whipped in a cross from the right that was met by Rob Hulse to crash in his first goal of the season with a powerful header for a deserved lead. At the other end the visitors had their first shot of the match just after the half hour mark when a harsh free kick was awarded against Barker on the edge of the area but Hulme fired his effort wide of the mark from a couple of yards outside the area in a fairly central position.
Hulse should have had his second of the night when Croft again escaped down the right and his cross picked out the big man only for the ball to glance off his head and end up wide when it looked easier to score from four yards. Derby were then punished for this moments later when Adam Hammill was given to much room to cut inside and he flashed a shot into the far corner from twenty yards with his sides first shot on target and somewhat against the run of play.
It was a shock for the home fans although a superb finish and The Rams tried to get back into stride before the break but Barker headed a Commons corner over the bar and Hulse could only send a looping header goalwards from another corner as the game reached halftime with the side`s level.
The second half started with a lengthy period of treatment for Foster after he caught an elbow in a challenge with Hulse. A long ball forward then found the goalscorer and his low cross into the six yard box was hacked behind by Hassell just as Livermore looked set to put his side back in front. Kris Commons fired in a free kick that took a deflection before going behind for a corner and Hulse was involved again heading the resulting corner wide of the mark.
The referee was playing a bigger part in the game with a number of very strange decisions and a clear foul on Commons was not given as he broke forward just before the hour mark, everyone seemed to stop for a moment and Barnsley broke forward and a clever ball found Andy Gray and he coolly slid the ball to Bywater`s left to give his side a 2-1 lead. Arms were raised for offside and complaints about the foul were raised but the visitors had gone nearly the length of the pitch to score.
Derby looked for an immediate response and Hulse was denied by another last gasp challenge before a free kick into the area fell to the feet of Shaun Barker but his touch took the ball into the arms of Preece and he held on when a better touch would have left him six yards out with the goal at his mercy. The crowd were getting more and more frustrated with the bizarre refereeing decisions and another foul on Hulse saw the striker replaced by Paul Dickov, making his Pride Park debut, as his illness had taken its toll.
The visitors now had something to hang on to and were getting men behind the ball in even greater numbers but it was proving to be effective as the chances would not come, savage made progress down the left only for his cut back to fall behind the Derby players in the area. Paul Dickov had a chance in the area but his touch let him down and it wasn`t until nearly the ninetieth minute that the next effort came from Dean Moxey but his fizzing effort was narrowly over.
Due to two lengthy periods of treatment the assistant signalled eight minutes of added time which was greeted with a surge of optimism from the home crowd but this soon evaporated as Anderson de Silva was release after a weak challenge in midfield saw him played in out wide and rounded Bywater before Barker couldn`t get a challenge in as he rolled the ball into the empty net.
An even later corner at the other end saw Barker score his first goal for The Rams when he headed Gary Teale`s delivery down and into the roof of the net but the grandstand finish did not materialise and there was some disquiet amongst the home crowd as Barnsley claimed their first win of the season.