The Championship did its thing once again on Saturday afternoon as bottom-side Barnsley emphatically beat promotion-chasing Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage.
Scott Parker will have known that his side could go into the top-two with a convincing enough win but, as the old cliche goes, it was the Tykes who played like the promotion-chasers in this one as they dealt a heavy blow to Fulham’s hopes of an immediate Premier League return.
Marek Rodak was the villain for the opening goal, badly misjudging Cauley Woodrow’s lofted through ball, fluffing his catch and allowing Jacob Brown to nip in.
In trying to reclaim what he felt was his, Rodak was adjudged to have fouled the Barnsley attacker, James Liddington in little doubt as he pointed to the penalty spot.
It was left to former Fulham marksman Woodrow to do the necessaries. The 25 year-old netted just 12 times during 66 appearances with The Whites but the converted penalty brought his season’s tally to that same dozen for the Yorkshire side
Barnsley had won none of their previous five heading into this one but were playing like a team bang in form. Forcing the Whites, who were unbeaten in their last five, into plenty of early errors.
They were the ones playing on the front foot whilst Parker’s troops looked stuck for ideas.
Fulham flexed their attacking muscles more in the latter stages of the first 45 but a woeful Cavaleiro attempt, which came closer to finding the building site than the goal, was as near as they could come.
Parker’s side started with the second half with the greater intent, Aleksandar Mitrovic seeing a well struck shot meet the boot of Brad Collins in the Barnsley goal as they threatened to grow into the game.
But then, suddenly, it was 2-0. A long Woodrow ball from inside his own half found its way to Brown.
The winger caught the site of a bright green figure rushing out to close him down from the Fulham goal but he was not phased, flicking the ball past Rodak from just outside the box and into the bottom corner. Cue jubilant scenes in the away end.
Barnsley kept coming, clearly feeling that attack was their greatest form of derence. Parker threw on Bobby Decordova-Reid and Harry Arter in place of Tom Cairney and Kevin McDonald but the next big chance still fell to the visitors.
A long Collins punt nearly turned into a brilliant assist from the goalkeeper, but Chaplin, who was having plenty of joy in the blustery conditions, could not quite direct his shot on target.
Fulham continued to pile forward in the final third of the match, but struggled to create any clear-cut chances, until Decordova-Reid failed to sort his feet out in time when six yards form goal, Collins on him like a shot to smother his effort.
It was a moment that summed up Fulham’s day. Barnsley had been faster than them, sharper than them, smarter than them and simply wanted the points more.
With 11 minutes of the match remaining, it was their former prodigy who put things to bed. Collecting the ball from Mike Bahre on the left-hand side of the box, Woodrow squared up to Michael Hector, found the space he needed and lashed the ball past Rodak with his left foot.
Barnsley remain rooted to the foot of the table but you cannot underestimate how big a result like this on the road can be for confidence.
As for Fulham, how they bounce back from this against Derby on Friday remains to be seen, although a win will be necessary to win back those who booed their side off at half-time and full-time.