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Town 5-1 Barnsley
Town 5-1 Barnsley
Saturday, 7th Apr 2007 19:04

Town continued their good late run with a 5-1 thrashing of Barnsley. Gary Roberts started the rout in the first minute and George O'Callaghan added a second on half-time. Daniel Nardiello pulled one back for the visitors, but Danny Haynes, Franny Jeffers and Jon Walters settled the result.

Boss Jim Magilton recalled Jaime Peters on the right of midfield and George O'Callaghan to the centre, with Matt Richards dropping out of the 16 and Gavin Williams moving to the bench, having missed training this week due to his pelvis problem and perhaps to avoid him picking up a yellow card and a suspension prior to Sunday's deadline.

The Blues went ahead with their first attack of the game. Jason De Vos headed a Barnsley corner away to Owen Garvan, who found Jaime Peters on the right with a superbly weighted ball. The Canadian cut in from the right and found Gary Roberts at the far post, the former Accrington man beating keeper Nick Colgan at close range to claim his first goal at Portman Road and the third of his Town career.

Five minutes later, Jon Walters, who spent time on loan with Barnsley in 2003/04, shot wide after good work from Roberts down the left. Soon after, O'Callaghan curled a freekick close to the edge of the box well over.

The visitors gradually started to bring themselves into the game and on 17 a promising break ended with Brian Howard shooting too high when he ought to have tested Lewis Price.

Jaime Peters flick-headed a Gary Roberts corner straight at Colgan, before play moved to the other end and Howard spectacularly volleyed an overhead kick only just wide.

Lewis Price made a fine save in the 22nd minute, getting down to his right to stop Ritchie Jones's low 25-yard strike. Fabian Wilnis was quickest to the loose ball and cleared.

Four minutes later, Jon Walters brilliantly played Alan Lee in on goal. The Irishman took the ball into the area but lashed his shot against the crossbar with a goal looking certain. Soon after, referee Tony Bates showed the game's first yellow card to former Canary Paul Heckingbottom for a foul on Jon Walters.

O'Callaghan flicked a Wright cross wide on the half-hour mark, then Walters cleverly found Lee on the edge of the area, but Town's top scorer managed only a weak shot to Colgan.

Owen Garvan wasn't far from scoring the Town goal of the season in the 35th minute when he was fed by Lee inside the area, lobbed the ball over a defender and hammered a volley goalwards which Colgan did superbly to push away for a corner.

Price saved a speculative 30-yard strike from Istvan Ferenczi, before a Town break ended with Walters scuffing a shot across goal and wide. Not long afterwards, Lee's well-struck 25-yard effort was too close to Colgan.

Three minutes prior to the break, the Blues added to their lead. David Wright's edge of the area effort was blocked, the ball falling to George O'Callaghan, who struck a low shot towards the corner of the net and beyond Colgan for his first goal for Town.

Just before half-time, Barnsley defender Bobby Hassell's shot looked to be on target until it struck team-mate Kyel Reid and flew harmlessly wide. Just before the whistle, Colgan saved from Roberts.

Town probably should have been more than two goals up at the break, having created enough chances to have had the game dead and buried by half-time. Barnsley were only really involved for a short spell after the Blues' first goal, but Town, with Owen Garvan again excellent, controlled things for the most part.

Franny Jeffers, back with the Blues after his hamstring injury, took over from Alan Lee for the second half. The first chance of the second period fell to Gary Roberts after a Jaime Peters cross had been half-cleared. Unfortunately the former Accrington man failed to time his volley and the ball eventually ended up going out for a throw.

Ritchie Jones was booked for a late tackle on O'Callaghan in the 52nd minute, Bobby Hassell also receiving a yellow card for another late challenge on David Wright which came after the whistle had been blown for the first offence and had been spotted by a linesman.

Town continued to look the side more likely to score. A break down the right involving Garvan and Walters created a shooting opportunity for Roberts but his strike was blocked. The ball eventually fell for O'Callaghan on the edge of the area but his curled effort went over. On 70 Danny Haynes replaced Roberts, the England U19 international moving to the right of midfield and Jaime Peters switching to the left.

Jeffers's header from Wright's cross was saved, then a Peters low ball from the left flew across the six-yard box but just ahead of Jeffers, Walters and Wright, who appeared to be very keen to grab for his first ever Town goal.

Istvan Ferenczi was booked for fouling on Wright on 77, then Garvan picked up his fourth yellow card of the season for a foul on Howard just outside the Town area. From the resultant freekick, sub Daniel Nardiello curled the ball into the net off Lewis Price's outstretched right arm.

Town really ought to have been out of sight well before this stage of the game, but fears of a late wobble were to prove unfounded.

Haynes might have created a third goal in the 81st minute but cut in from the right and hit a shot which Colgan saved when a ball across the box would have been a better option. While Haynes was making his run, Garvan was left sprawling at the other end of the field by an off the ball kick from Sam Togwell, something missed by the referee and his assistants.

From the corner, the Blues settled the game. Jeffers found himself space on the edge of the area and hit a shot which appeared to be blocked by a hand, but with the Town players and the North Stand appealing, Haynes turned and sent the loose ball past Colgan for his eighth goal of the season.

The fourth came soon afterwards, Garvan finding Walters down the right with the completely unmarked Jeffers screaming for the ball in the middle. Just as the former Chester man seemed to have delayed his pass too long he found his strike partner, the ex-England man taking a deft touch before beating Colgan and scoring his second goal for the Blues and, like Roberts and O'Callaghan, his first at Portman Road.

The game exploded into a brief bout of handbags in the 87th minute after sub Peter Rajczi clattered into Alex Bruce with what appeared to be a fists first challenge. Jason De Vos reacted angrily and, after the referee had restored order, the Canadian and the Hungarian, red-carded along with Town boss Jim Magilton in a pre-season friendly when with Újpest two years ago, were both booked.

As the game moved into injury time Garvan played in Walters down the left, Colgan, by now nicknamed ‘Worzel' by the North Stand, punching the Town striker's shot into the air and onto the roof of the net.

The scoring was complete soon afterwards. O'Callaghan played an excellent crossfield ball to Haynes, the former academy man cut in from the right and found Jeffers, whose shot struck the bar but fell to Walters, who took a touch and hit a low drive into the net. The frontman fully deserved his goal after another excellent performance.

One of Town's best displays of the season with the fantastic Owen Garvan at the heart of everything. The Irishman has hit a rich vein of form just as the season reaches its close having missed the early stages due to a virus and having taken a while to get back to his top form. If he starts next season as he has ended this one, he could be the key to a promotion challenge.

Jon Walters wasn't far from pushing Garvan for the man of the match award, his clever running and hold-up play a major reason for Town's comfortable victory, although he might have taken one or two earlier chances.

Perhaps the only criticism was that Town didn't take enough of their opportunities before the late onslaught which saw the final three goals come in the last eight minutes, Jeffers again showing his quality in front of goal. The stats of 15 shots on target and seven off tell the story of the game.

The Blues now stand on 55 points, two behind last year's total and in 13th place. If the recent run of form continues for the rest of the season a top half of the table finish could well be on the cards.

Town: Price, Wright, Wilnis, De Vos, Bruce, Garvan, O'Callaghan, Roberts, Peters, Lee (Jeffers 46), Walters. Unused: Supple, Miller, Williams. Att: 20,585.

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