The Barnsley striker Danny Nardiello, who played such a key part in Saturday's demolition of West Bromwich Albion, has been through hell and back. Well, Loftus Road anyway.
"I went to Queen's Park Rangers when John Gregory was manager. I got injured, played just a couple of games. Then the new manager came and he obviously didn't like me as a player and let me go out on loan. This is where I wanted to come back to and hopefully I can start repaying the manager and the fans."
Nardiello showed his intent from the first whistle on Saturday. Racing into battle like a baresark, he had rattled Dean Kiley's left upright with just a minute on the clock. The ball rolled the length of the goalline before being hoofed to safety.
If the Baggies are serious about their Premier League ambitions, then they really must do better than this. The first goal was entirely a result of Bostjan Cesar's sloppiness. The Slovenian defender was unaware of Nardiello closing on him as he contemplated a back pass. Having pilfered the ball, Nardiello gave Kiely short shrift as he placed the ball well inside the post this time.
Nardiello was instrumental in Barnsley's second goal too, on the cusp of half-time. "I could have had four today," Nardiello said. "The second goal when it came along, I smacked it as hard as I could. It hit the side of [Jonathan] Greening and came back to Jon Macken who hit it in for us."
Albion flowered briefly after the interval, courtesy of a partnership between James Morrison and Kevin Phillips. The two exchanged passes on the right side of the Barnsley box with Phillips back-heeling neatly into Morrison's path and the former Middlesbrough player found the net with ease.
The injured Roman Bednar and the prodigal Cesar had disappeared at the interval to be replaced by the more industrious Leon Barnett and Craig Beattie. Following the away goal, Greening seemed to realise he had better get into gear, but it just was not his day.
At the back Dennis Souza and Anderson De Silva were reading the game well for the hosts. Alongside them, Lewin Nyatanga's superbly judged tackling – as well as the threat he offered up front with his headers – made the Tykes just about fireproof.
The Albion manager, Tony Mowbray, not noted for his excess of humour, was particularly down after the game. He said: "[That was] A poor 90 minutes of below par individual performances. But Barnsley deserve credit, they worked hard. We didn't have enough quality to get back in the game. As a club we've had a good season so far, but today we've fallen below the standards we've set ourselves."
Barnsley manager, Simon Davey, was licking his lips at the thought of next weekend's FA Cup encounter at Anfield, but sounded a warning note. "Nyatanga and Macken are unavailable against Liverpool [both players are Cup-tied] so there are two places up for grabs," he said.
One of those will doubtless go to the rejuvenated Nardiello, although he will not have his blossoming partnership with Macken to rely on.
Goals: Nardiello (30) 1-0; Macken (45) 2-0; Morrison (58), 2-1.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Warner; Foster, Souza, Nyatanga, Kozluk; Leon (Hassell, 85), De Silva, Howard, Devaney; Macken (Ferenczi, 80), Nardiello (Coulson, 72). Substitutes not used: Odejayi, Campbell-Ryce.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Hoefkens, Albrechtsen, Cesar (Barnett, 46), Robinson; Filipe Teixeira, Greening, Morrison, Brunt (Gera, 64); Bednar (Beattie, 46), Phillips. Substitutes not used: Danek (gk), Pele.
Referee: T Bates (Staffordshire).
Booked: West Brom Cesar, Greening.
Man of the match: Nyatanga
Attendance: 13,083.Reuse content