Football: Wilson's Tykes in full flight

Barnsley 2 Ward 65, Fjortoft 72 Sheffield Wednesday 1 Stefan ovic 86 Attendance: 18,692
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The Independent Online
BARNSLEY travelled to St James' Park last month with an FA Cup semi-final place at stake. They return tomorrow afternoon with a Premiership lifeline within their grasp. After a run of three defeats, Danny Wilson's team put three precious points on the board at Oakwell yesterday.

In clipping the wings of their neighbouring Owls, moreover, Barnsley moved within two points of the plummeting Magpies they will face on Tyneside tomorrow. They are also now just a point behind Tottenham, who visit Oakwell on Saturday. Both Newcastle and the not-so-hot Spurs will have far from easy afternoons if Wilson's Tykes play with the tenacity that overcame his old club yesterday.

Even the scare of a successful late pot-shot by Dejan Stefanovic failed to weaken their resolve. Second-half goals by the foraging Ashley Ward and the forceful Jan-Aage Fjortoft won the South Yorkshire derby and kept Barnsley's survival hopes alive and kicking. "We simply had to win today," Wilson said. "It's nice to still be in with a chance with five games to play. If we win on Monday we go above Newcastle. It's as simple as that. The pressure's on them."

Wilson's side prevailed yesterday despite the absence of the trio sent off in their last home game, the fractious affair with Liverpool. A banner in the Ora Stand implored "Let Deirdre rot - Free the Barnsley three" but Chris Morgan, Darren Sheridan and Darren Barnard were all serving suspended sentences. John Hendrie filled one of the vacancies and the industrious Scot was prominent in the attacking start that set the tone, teeing up Neil Redfearn for an angled drive which tested Kevin Pressman's reflexes to the full.

Ward proved a particular handful for the Wednesday defence, but Barnsley were obliged to ride their luck as Paolo di Canio fleetingly sparkled in his dazzling white boots. Sporting the captain's arm-band in the absence of the suspended Peter Atherton, the Italian struck the Barnsley crossbar with a curling right-foot shot in the seventh minute and orchestrated the promising move which ended with Emerson Thome rifling a first-time drive inches over Dave Watson's goal.

It was just like watching a Brazilian, if not Brazil, but Wednesday's debutant South American - a free transfer acquisition from Benfica - was not the most influential figure on view. That distinction was Ward's. And, fittingly, it was Wilson's pounds 1.2m signing from Derby who made the 65th minute breakthrough.

As the Wednesday defence dithered, Ward turned to shoot Ales Krizan's left-wing throw past Kevin Pressman. Six minutes later Oakwell erupted again. Fjortoft, a 52nd-minute replacement for the tiring Hendrie, beat Pressman with a low left-footed shot from 20 yards. Stefanovic's reply came too late to save the day for Wednesday. Ron Atkinson was reduced to a rare state of speechlessness. He departed without passing comment on the derby day that belonged, with the three vital points, to Barnsley.

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