Neil Redfearn's goalscoring prowess from midfield, which carried Barnsley to promotion last season, sufficed at Selhurst Park last night to bring the Yorkshire club their first-ever win in the Premiership.
It was from 35 yards that Redfearn added to his 19 goals in the First Division and his unavailing header against West Ham on Saturday to make it a historic occasion for Barnsley.
A mistake by Simon Rodger afforded Redfearn the merest glimpse of an opening, but, nevertheless, it required a stupendous swerving shot from their 32-year-old former Palace player to beat the diving Kevin Miller.
The surprise was not so much Barnsley's elevation last spring as the ease with which they have held on to their chief asset. "Considering Neil's fantastic striking record from midfield, I was surprised that no one came in for him" Danny Wilson, Barnsley's elated manager, said.
Palace had been let off a few minutes earlier by John Hendrie's shot that spun off David Tuttle to leave Miller with a hair-raising rush back towards his own goal. He just got there in time to prevent Paul Wilkinson from tapping in the loose ball.
Otherwise the story of the night revolved around not so much Redfearn's shot as Palace's shooting, or more pertinently Bruce Dyer's. It hardly matters if the erratic Dyer hammers his drives astray if incoming forwards make the connections. But each of Palace's new signings, Paul Warhurst and Attilio Lombardo, failed agonisingly when sliding in on Dyer's cross- shots.
Going it alone in search of an equaliser, Dyer thundered a drive against the underside of the bar and forced David Watson into a desperate late save with a downward header.
Since Warhurst's replacement, Neil Shipperley, had already grazed the far upright from an exquisite pass from fellow substitute Jamie Fullerton, Palace were unlucky not to take a point on a night when victory would have put them top of the embryonic table.
"We did more than enough to get one back," their manager, Steve Coppell, said. Yet on the evidence of a lively encounter between two promoted sides, Barnsley's neater passing suggested that of the two favourites for the drop, they are better equipped to avoid relegation.
Andy Roberts' slipshod passing in midfield did Palace no favours and Lombardo faded into anonymity during the second half after a promising opening when he had severely tested the resilience of Matt Appleby.
Twice Appleby, a replacement for hamstring strain sufferer Peter Shirtliffe, ushered the ball back to Watson only for the Italian's speed almost to take him into one-on-one advances on the goalkeeper. Lombardo's equilibrium cannot have been helped by a rush-hour dash from his West End hotel to the ground in his silver Mercedes. He was fined by Coppell for arriving late.
Crystal Palace (3-4-1-2): Miller; Tuttle, Edworthy, Linighan; Muscat, Roberts, Rodger (Fullerton, 60), Gordon; Lombardo; Warhurst (Shipperley, 68), Dyer. Substitutes not used: Veart, Hreidarsson, Nash (gk).
Barnsley: (3-5-2): Watson; Moses, De Zeeuw, Appleby; Eaden, Bullock, Redfearn, Sheridan, Barnard; Hendrie, Wilkinson. Substitutes not used: Leese, Marcelle, Liddell, Bosancic, Hristov.
Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).
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