Barnsley progressed to the second round of the Carabao Cup after defeating Nottingham Forest by a goal to nil at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides, after very contrasting ends to last season, will have been hoping to start the new season on a high, and build momentum heading into the Championship’s first round of fixtures next weekend.
After a heartbreaking end to the campaign which saw them inexplicably slide out of the play-off places, Sabri Lamouchi and his side will be hoping to right their wrongs and make amends this term.
Fielding a side which included summer recruits Fouad Bachirou and Tyler Blackett, Lamouchi also gave young defender Jordan Gabriel a chance to impress at right-back, following Matty Cash’s sale to Aston Villa this week.
Gabriel – making only his second appearance for the Reds – went about hitting the ground running. With less than 20 seconds on the clock, the right-back got himself on the ball, drove into the area and flashed a dangerous effort just wide of Jack Walton’s goal.
A reasonably quiet 20 minutes followed, with Forest’s high-tempo pressing making it difficult for Gerhard Struber’s side to play from out the back.
The Tykes did start to improve, though, and after a good move involving Victor Adeboyejo and Kilian Ludewig, the latter’s cross met the head of Conor Chaplin, who got ahead of his marker and flicked an effort goalwards.
Brice Samba was there to tip the header over the crossbar, though, as the hosts began to assert their dominance on the game.
Forest’s attacking quartet of Nuno da Costa, Joao Carvalho, Sammy Ameobi and Lewis Grabban were quiet during the opening 45 minutes by their own standards, and it was in fact Gabriel who looked more dangerous going forward.
On 34 minutes, after receiving the ball on the right flank following a sharp turn from Joao Carvalho, Gabriel hesitated, before cutting onto his left-foot and having an effort blocked by Jordan Williams.
After bagging 15 goals across all competitions last season, Cauley Woodrow will be hoping to replicate that form and have a similar impact for Struber’s side in 2020/21.
The 25-year-old wasted two good opportunities in the first 45 minutes, though, as Barnsley ended the half well on top.
The first saw a looping clearance fall his way on the edge of the area, but after watching the ball drop from the sky, his volley was scuffed wide after failing to make a solid connection.
Woodrow also wasted a good opportunity as the half entered its latter stages. Da Costa lost possession in Forest’s half, allowing the Tykes to break, but Woodrow, who drove forward with the ball, flashed a shot wide after failing to make a solid connection once again.
The half-time whistle blew and it remained goalless between two sides hoping to make improvements in the second-half.
Woodrow, who was moved further forward following the introduction of Elliot Simoes at half-time, was in the thick of action straight away as the second-half began.
It was Barnsley’s turn to press high up the field this time, with Woodrow winning possession and slipping the ball through for Conor Chaplin. The forward’s shot from inside the area stung the palms of Samba, who parried away.
Two minutes later, Woodrow was there to give Barnsley the breakthrough.
After Callum Styles won possession in Forest’s half, Conor Chaplin’s effort was stopped on the line by Samba, but there was Woodrow to bundle in from close-range to give the hosts a deserved lead.
Chaplin was almost the provider for Woodrow once again just minutes later. Chaplin dinked a cross towards the middle, and an unmarked Woodrow headed over the bar. A golden opportunity wasted.
Forest were undeniably under the cosh, and Lamouchi made two changes shortly after Woodrow’s missed effort. Alex Mighten replaced Sammy Ameobi, whilst summer signing Lyle Taylor made his debut for the Reds, replacing Carvalho.
Another summer recruit in Luke Freeman was introduced 10 minutes later, replacing Grabban as Forest looked to add some firepower to their attacking line.
Freeman has stood out at Championship level before, and he showed how dangerous his set-piece deliveries can be with 15 minutes left to play.
The midfielder’s in-swinging delivery landed at Gabriel’s feet, but he was unable to adjust his footing and couldn’t pull off a shot.
Barnsley broke with real pace in search of a second goal to surely kill the game off.
Alex Mowatt was played in down the left-hand side, who found Elliot Simoes free in the middle. Simeos rolled the ball into the path of Dominik Frieser – who was brought on for his debut just 10 minutes before, but his shot was parried well by Samba.
Forest had been left frustrated, and it took until the 85th minute for Taylor to have his first glimpse of the goal. A corner was hit deep towards the back-post, but Taylor, who met the ball on the volley, struck it into the ground and it ultimately found Jack Walton’s gloves.
Three minutes were to be added on at the end of an overall lacklustre second-half – very much summing up the lack of action in both boxes aside from Woodrow’s chances.
Forest were unable to find an equaliser, though, and the full-time whistle blew. A perfect start to the season for Barnsley, whose performances either side of half-time ultimately saw them progress to the second round.
Much to work on from a Forest perspective, with the Reds failing to create any clear-cut chances and make their large spells of possession count.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Nottingham Forest.