Barnsley made an impressive opening weekend statement on Saturday, as the newly-promoted side defeated promotion-tipped Fulham, fresh from their Premier League relegation, 1-0.
Daniel Stendel has built a young energetic squad of players and it was a player in that image who proved the difference at Oakwell.
On his debut for the club, 20-year-old Luke Thomas fought hard to gather a ball over the top from Mike Bahre and then danced along the by-line before powering his finish into the net to score the winner in the 13th minute.
Thomas joined the club this summer from Derby County for a reported fee of £1.4 million and signed a four-year contract.
The winger impressed on loan last season with Coventry City, scoring five goals and providing five assists in 44 appearances for the club.
We put a spotlight on his performance against Fulham to examine how the 20-year-old got on in his Barnsley debut.
Much of the talk surrounding Fulham has been about their front three, with the London side having assembled an exciting trio of Aleksander Mitrovic, Anthony Knockaert, and Ivan Cavaleiro, but it was Thomas who took the headlines.
His energy and attacking intent were ever-present and may even have left opposition boss Scott Parker wishing he had the 20-year-old in his squad.
Thomas’ positivity was a great asset to Barnsley on Saturday as he dragged his side forward, which was reflected in his three progressive runs.
In addition to the chances he created for himself, he linked up with his teammates excellently, assisting two shots and completing four accurate passes to the final third.
A pacy and direct winger, Thomas looked a threat getting in behind the full-backs all game and he generated two great chances on goal from just those sort of runs.
In both chances he showed an impressive calmness and composure in the box for such a young player, scoring the first and seeing the second blocked by Joe Bryan.
There are a number of exciting young players in Stendel’s squad and if they can consistently produce performances like Thomas’ on the opening weekend, the Tykes should be clear of the relegation dogfight.
After showing his talent for the Sky Blues last season, Saturday’s performance was an early indication that he is ready for the Championship and that, for £1.4 million, he may just prove a real coup for the Tykes.