Ross McCormack’s 29th goal of the season proved enough to give Leeds United their first away win against Barnsley at Oakwell since 1997.
After recent horror stories at the ground this was a more solid display and McCormack’s bit of magic to create the goal for himself was the highlight of a distinctly ordinary Sky Bet Championship game.
Barnsley, who have now failed to score in their last five home games, look doomed to relegation on this evidence while a second straight clean sheet for United will be encouraging for manager Brian McDermott and help in his cause to remain in charge beyond this season.
It was surprisingly comfortable for Leeds in the opening half as they started brightly and established an early lead.
Matt Smith had their first chance with a header from a Michael Tonge cross that brought a good save from home keeper Luke Steele.
Luke Murphy then had a decent chance when free in the box to meet McCormack’s cross only to see his header well blocked by Kelvin Etuhu.
But United did go in front on 16 minutes when Smith flicked on a long ball and McCormack turned smartly on the edge of the box to give himself freedom to fire past Steele.
That was it as far as chances go for Leeds in the first 45 minutes, but they held their hosts at bay for most of the half.
There were a few signs that Barnsley were finally getting into the game in the closing stages of the half as Tomasz Cywka fired a volley wide and hit another shot over. Their only effort on target, though, was a Dale Jennings looping header comfortably saved by Jack Butland in the 36th minute.
Little happened in the early part of the second half with neither side capable of keeping possession. Jennings did get one effort in for the hosts, but his weak shot was easily saved.
Leeds boss McDermott clearly thought his side were in control as he took off centre-back Marius Zaliukas and put on forward Noel Hunt, switching from a 5-3-2 formation to 4-3-3.
It helped his side get a bit more attacking threat as McCormack volleyed over, Smith saw a header easily saved and Stephen Warnock’s cross hit Liam Lawrence’s hand, but no penalty was awarded.
Butland had another easy save to make from Jennings’ weak header, but Barnsley struggled to put any decent moves together.
Hunt looked lively up front, but looked short of confidence and did not get any shots in despite being in a few promising positions. He did cross for Smith, who went down under a challenge with again no penalty awarded.
Five minutes of injury-time could have given Barnsley a lift, but United remained comfortable to the final whistle and went closest to scoring again as McCormack shot wide from 25 yards out.
Leeds United 1
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Barnsley: Steele; Etuhu (McCourt 65), M’Voto, Crainie, Kennedy; McLaughlin, Dawson (Proschwitz 75), Lawrence, Jennings; Cywka; O’Grady.
Leeds: Butland; Lees, Zaliukas (Hunt 60), Pearce; Wootton, Brown, Tonge, Murphy, Warnock; McCormack, Smith (White 82).
Referee: David Webb.