Football: Premiership survival moves up Barnsley's agenda

Barnsley 2 Wimbledon 1
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JOHN DENNIS, the Barnsley chairman, says he has not been looking too closely at the Premiership table in recent months. Although he would not have admitted as much, it would have been understandable if the attitude of many people at the Yorkshire club had been one of "enjoy the Premiership while you can".

Now, however, Oakwell expectations are growing after an excellent week. Danny Wilson's team are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup thanks to their memorable victory over Manchester United and, more importantly, another three points on Saturday helped lift the team to the heady heights of third from bottom. Barnsley had been propping up the Premiership table since 4 October.

Dennis said: "They are all good weeks because it is just a privilege to be involved at this level - but this has been particularly good. We've not had to look at the league table too much in recent months to know where we are, but the three points today gives everybody more hope that we will stay up than we've had for a long time.

"Wimbledon are notorious party poopers and you've got to give them the most enormous respect for what they have achieved in recent years. Today always had the look of a banana skin about it, but I thought we played well in the first half, when there was some genuinely good football, and then in the second we stuck in and battled and thankfully got the points."

Barnley's performance in the last 20 minutes will have given particular encouragement. Opportunist goals by Jan Age Fjortfot had put them 2-0 up, but after Jason Euell had cut the deficit Barnsley defended in numbers as Wimbledon sought an equaliser.

The result leaves Wimbledon again looking over their shoulders. Joe Kinnear's team have not performed well at home this season and he will be alarmed if the away form drops off as well. Wimbledon had gone into Saturday's game with the best defensive away record in the Premiership, having previously conceded just 11 goals in 12 games.

That record was dented by Fjortoft, who has dropped in and out of the side because he has been cup-tied. His place has been under threat from John Hendrie, but Saturday's goals should at least keep the Norwegian in the club's Premiership line-up.

Goals: Fjortoft (25) 1-0; Fjortoft (63) 2-0; Euell (71) 2-1.

Barnsley: Watson; Eaden, Moses, Redfearn, Marcelle, Bosancic (Sheridan, 62), Barnard, Ward, Morgan, Markstedt (Tinkler, h-t), Fjortoft. Substitutes not used: Leese (gk), Bullock, Hristov.

Wimbledon: Sullivan; Cunningham, Jones, Blackwell, Thatcher, Perry, Hughes, Ardley, Castledine (Gayle, 68), Euell, Leaburn. Substitutes not used: Heald (gk), Reeves, Cort, Francis.

Referee: G P Barber (Pyrford).

Bookings: Barnsley: Markstedt, Morgan, Ward. Wimbledon: Euell, Hughes.

Man of the match: Fjortfot.

Attendance: 17,102..