Football: Barnsley's style wins plaudits

Barnsley 4 Charlton Athletic 0
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Barnsley ended Saturday afternoon closer to top division football than they have ever been in their history. A commanding performance against Charlton, coupled with Wolves' late misadventures, which were hailed with equal pleasure at Oakwell, means that it will take a major collapse to deny them a place in next year's Premiership.

There is little doubt that Barnsley deserve their elevation. From top to bottom of the First Division, other clubs would echo the observations of Charlton's Alan Curbishley.

"I've got a lot of respect for the way they play," he said after seeing his side dismantled. "Good luck to them. They play the right sort of football and I hope they make it."

When they do, of course, a more searching examination than the back-slapping of their current peers awaits them.

There is no question that Barnsley play intelligent, attractive football. But they know that it will take more than that to keep them afloat in the Premiership.

One major worry must be that several of their key personnel - like Neil Redfearn, Paul Wilkinson and John Hendrie, the scorer of one goal and a contributor to two more - are nearing the twilight of worthy, tradesmanlike careers.

The projected strategy for next season is that their manager, Danny Wilson, will build on a nucleus of some talented younger players with some judicious European signings.

That, under the present legislation, is where the best bargains lie. Further acquisitions of the standard of Arjan de Zeeuw, who passed his medical exams before his pounds 250,000 signing from the Netherlands, would be just what the doctor ordered.

Alongside the former Newcastle player, Matty Appleby, Dr de Zeeuw gives Barnsley a healthy look in the middle of the defence, while Nicky Eaden is a wing-back of considerable ability.

Neil Thompson's two goals in a similar role were testimony to his overlapping instincts. If it was, as Barnsley's fans never tire of insisting, "just like watching Brazil", then Thompson's second goal found him playing the part of Carlos Alberto.

Like the final goal, from Hendrie, that strike was set up by the frail but highly skilled Martin Bullock, a late substitute who might find his style better suited to the Premiership than to the rougher-edged combat of the Nationwide League.

Goals: Marcelle (32) 1-0; Thompson (36) 2-0; Thompson (31) 3-0; Hendrie (86) 4-0.

Barnsley (3-4-1-2): Watson; Moses, Appleby, De Zeeuw; Eaden, Redfearn, Sheridan, Thompson; Marcelle (Bullock, 78); Hendrie, Wilkinson (Liddell, 87). Substitute not used: Bosancic.

Charlton Athletic: (4-5-1): Petterson; Brown (Bright, 60), Rufus, Balmer, Barness; Newton, Jones, Kinsella, O'Connell, Robinson; Leaburn. Substitutes not used: Chapple, Stuart.

Referee: S Mathieson (Stockport). Man of the match: Hendrie.

Attendance: 11,701.