Valerien Ismael's reign as Barnsley head coach got off to the perfect start as his side dominated 10-man Queens Park Rangers for a first win of the season.
The key moment of the match came midway through the first half when Rob Dickie was dismissed for pulling Cauley Woodrow when through on goal, and the striker converted the penalty.
Conor Chaplin doubled their lead before the break, and a comical own goal from Yoann Barbet completed a humiliating evening for QPR, who failed to score for the fourth game in succession.
Story of the match
All eyes were on how Barnsley would look under Ismael, but in the opening stages they were on the ropes as QPR put the pressure on from the start. They failed to create an opening of note though, and with the new boss offering instructions and encouragement aplenty from the edge of his technical area, the Reds began to find their rhythm.
The first real moment of drama was the decisive action of the match. Callum Styles, returning to the team following injury, attempted to thread a pass in behind and Barbet failed to intercept on the slide with ball bouncing up for Woodrow. Barbet’s partner Dickie was in trouble, and he grabbed a handful of the striker’s shirt to make a red card inevitable.
Woodrow stepped up to slam home the penalty, putting Rangers behind with more than hour to play with 10 men. They reorganised to a back three with Ilias Chair brought off, but they were unable to prevent Barnsley from becoming a dominant force.
It was 2-0 by the break, with Woodrow decisive again. His audacious flick brilliantly sent Dominik Frieser in behind down the left, and he squared the ball for Chaplin to beat Seny Dieng from close range.
The pattern of play continued after the break with Barnsley in near-total control. Chaplin almost had a second goal to add to his hat-trick in this fixture last season, but he couldn’t find the right connection to head in a fantastic Styles cross.
More goals seemed inevitable, although the manner in which the third came certainly couldn’t have been predicted. The chance looked gone when Woodrow couldn’t quite control Frieser’s pass, but when Barbet tried to stab the ball back to his keeper Dieng was totally wrong-footed and the ball comically rolled into the net.
QPR finally began to work some openings but the big chances kept coming to a Barnsley side looking menacing on the counter. Dieng had to make a string of saves to keep the score moderately respectable, including a fine stop against a stinging Frieser drive.
Patrick Schmidt put three good opportunities straight at the goalkeeper and Elliot Simoes was also denied after a brilliant run, before Chaplin curled wide as Barnsley continued to cut their opponents to pieces right to the final whistle.
Ismael’s Barnsley shine
If this is what Ismael can coax out of Barnsley after just two training sessions, what can they become in the future?
Nothing revolutionary was expected in terms of Barnsley’s style, not just because of the short time since his appointment but because his approach very closely mirrors that of the club under its previous coaches.
The only major difference in structure was a more orthodox front three instead of one player behind a front two, and after a very rocky start they were beginning to show signs of promise when the red card changed the complexion of the game.
The fact that most of the contest was played as 11 v 10 means it is more difficult to make definitive judgements, but they were always dangerous out wide, moved the ball really well, and in the second half looked devastating on the counter, albeit without the finishing to match.
All the first impressions are very good indeed, and it will be well worth watching developments at Oakwell in the coming weeks and months.
QPR fail to reorganise
QPR were in hot water when, having dominated at least the opening 10 minutes without quite prising a way through and then ceded control, Dickie’s intervention on a goal-bound Woodrow put the team at a disadvantage on numbers and the scoreboard.
That need not have been the end of this game as a contest, but the Rs failure to settle into a new system cost them just as dearly.
First they made a substitution to change to 3-4-2, but Albert Adomah proved a vulnerability as a full-back and was hooked for a more orthodox choice, Todd Kane, shortly after the break.
They had taken off both of their most creative attacking talents, Chair and Adomah, to keep two strikers on the pitch in Macauley Bonne and Lyndon Dykes, but neither of them got a touch of the ball without the service.
Only with the final substitution, bringing on Chris Willock for Bonne, did they finally look more balanced, with Willock particularly making a good individual contribution, but moments later they were 3-0 down and truly beaten.
Man of the match: Cauley Woodrow (Barnsley)
Frieser was very impressive for Barnsley again, but for the most telling contributions Woodrow just edges it on this occasion, winning and converting the penalty before brilliantly setting up the second goal as well.
It has long been uncertain quite where Woodrow’s best position is, often used by Struber as the player in behind a front two, but in Ismael’s front three he was the man in the middle playing as the traditional ‘number nine’ to match his shirt number, and he was excellent there.
He certainly has the physical attributes for the position, and with Ismael’s team not appearing averse to a long ball to relieve pressure when necessary, he could be a useful outlet in that sense, compared to the little runners who have formed the front two in recent times.
His link-up play suits and he showed here that he can get in the right positions and make good runs. And of course he knows how to finish, top scoring with 15 last season and notching his fourth of the current campaign with his supremely confident penalty.
With Simoes and Schmidt coming off the bench and Luke Thomas to also throw into the equation, there are plenty of options in attack for the head coach, but Woodrow is certain to play a key role.