Football: Brazil of the north come down to earth

Barnsley 1 Stockport County 1
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The Independent Online
AFTER THEIR brief season in the sun, Barnsley have been finding life hard back at the First Division coal face.

Despite a lot of hard graft at Oakwell, Jan Aage Fjortoft's first-half deflected goal was annulled by Graham Branch's second-half header, and Barnsley's first victory since relegation continues to evade them. Not that they deserved it last night, despite a prodigious work rate and the lion's share of possession.

The one-touch football that has their supporters likening them to Brazil surfaced occasionally but on this evidence the Premiership lustre has already begun to rub off. If anything, Stockport treated them with too much respect, packing their defence, happy to concede a string of early corners and putting a good deal of faith in their offside trap. But it took Barnsley 20 minutes to create a decent chance - Fjortoft rounding off the most fluent move of the match with a delicate lob that floated just wide.

Four minutes later, however, he poached the goal Barnsley's early dominance merited. Stockport's goalkeeper, Carlo Nash, had Arjan de Zeeuw's speculative 25-yard short covered when Fjortoft popped up on the penalty spot to deflect it past him.

Conceding a goal proved to be the stimulus Stockport needed to display some ambition of their own, and once they started to push forward and give their frontrunners Brett Angell and Ian Moore a sniff of the ball they looked an effective side, and one with a wider attacking repertoire than their Route One reputation suggests.

Angell's run almost split the Yorkshiremen's defence and Chris Byrne had a shot charged down before Moore's cross from the right was met at the far post by the head of the unmarked Branch for the equaliser.

Barnsley had chances to restore their lead - de Zeeuw meeting successive corners with powerful headers, one high, one blocked - before Fjortoft laid on a sitter for Darren Barnard, who contrived to shoot across the face of goal with only Nash to beat.

Barnsley (4-4-2): Watson; Eaden, Richardson, Moses, Morgan; de Zeeuw, McClare (Bullock 70), Van der Laan (Sherridan 84), Barnard; Ward (Hendrie 84), Fjortoft.

Stockport (4-4-2): Nash; Dinning (Travis 89), Cook, Flinn, Woodthorpe; Cooper, Gannon, Branch, Byrne; Moore (Wilbraham 89), Angell. Substitute not used: Phillips.

Referee: W Byrne (Scarborough) replaced by D Kellett (Bradford) at half- time.

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