Cardiff City's away hoodoo came to a glorious end on Saturday afternoon with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Barnsley.
Nineteen year-old debutant Ben Nugent
opened the scoring after twenty-four minutes as he nodded home a Peter Whittingham corner.
And just seven minutes into the second half, Aron Gunnarsson
registered a copycat finish to double City's advantage.
Jacob Mellis pulled one back for the Tykes with just over a quarter of an hour left, and when Simon Lappin was sent off for a second bookable offence late on it set up a tense finish.
Barnsley may have nicked a point late on but for a good reaction David Marshall save, but City held on to return to top spot in the npower Championship.
Cardiff started the first half with the loud City following behind them, and the first chance fell to Kim Bo-Kyung who darted into the left hand side of the box before seeing his shot deflect out for a corner. Barnsley quickly tried to change the run of play and after a short spell of possession the ball fell to Greening outside the area who half volleyed it wide of Marshall’s left hand post. Another chance soon followed, though Craig Davies also missed the target.
Seven minutes in to the tie and Craig Noone won a free kick in Peter Whittingham territory, but the Cardiff dead ball specialist could only strike into the wall. The next few minutes saw Cardiff show a lot more attacking threat. Whittingham found himself with another free kick near the right corner flag, this time forcing a save from Tykes keeper Luke Steele.
The next ten minutes saw very little in terms of chances and incident but Cardiff showed a good spell of possession frustrating the home side. The next chance was to fall for Noone who capitalised on some sloppy passing to intercept the ball midway into the Barnsley half but his snapshot went wide. Within the next minute, Mason found himself with a one on one with the keeper after beating two Barnsley defenders, but Steele produced a fine save and City had a corner. Whittingham took it, producing yet another pin point cross to find the head of Ben Nugent who headed home on his first senior start.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 BARNSLEY (BEN NUGENT, 24 MINS)
As expected, Barnsley looked to come back at Cardiff immediately but the City defence held up well. On 28 minutes there was a chance for Stephen Dawson who found himself on his own at the back post, but he could only produce an air shot as the ball arrived with him and the ball trickled out for a goal kick.
The half seemed to be ticking over with Cardiff looking relatively comfortable. There a were a couple of half chances for the Yorkshire outfit with a Jonathan Greening free kick temporarily causing confusion in the area before the ball eventually got hacked away. Marcus Tudgay also had a headed chance from a corner which he could only glance wide if the target.
The rest of the half was not to be as comfortable as the travelling City contingent would have liked. Craig Davies was played through on goal with only a minute or so left of the half. Marshall was to dive low to his left and his fingertip save pushed the ball out for a corner. Two corners soon followed which once again caused a few problems but were dealt with eventually by the City back-line.
HALF TIME: BARNSLEY 0-1 CARDIFF CITY
The second half started with a thick fog and torrential rain at Oakwell but the City fans were still in great voice. Cardiff looked to start the half the stronger with the first few bursts forward but it was Barnsley had the first chance through Jacob Mellis. He drove into the box, but again Marshall was equal to it.
Cardiff soon replied with two great chances to double their lead. The first saw Kim Bo-Kyung play a great ball from the by-line across goal but the ball found a Barnsley defender. Then Cardiff really should have scored. Joe Mason showed great battling qualities to dispossess Wiseman, carrying the ball into the box and finding Helguson who only had the Keeper to beat. Steele saved from poin blank range though to deny Cardiff’s top goal scorer.
Seven minutes into the half and Cardiff had their third clear cut chance of it. This time a crossed ball from Whittingham found the head of Gunnarsson in the penalty area. Once again the Cardiff header was sent goalward, and once again it resulted in a goal. The ball powered home past the Luke Steele who could only watch it fly past him.
GOAL: BARNSLEY 0 – 2 CARDIFF CITY (GUNNARSSON, 52 MINS)
Substitution Barnsley: Akos Buszaky on for Stephen Dawson (57 mins)
Substitution Barnsley: Reuben Noble-Lazarus on for Matt Done (57 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Rudy Gestede on for Heidar Helguson (61 mins)
Cardiff followed the goal with another couple of chances, the most notable being a chance for Helguson who had another headed chance sail over the cross bar. The second goal acted as a catalyst for Barnsley in upping the tempo; they were most definitely enjoying their strongest period of the match with Mellis, Davies and new addition Akos Buszaky having decent strikes on goal. Even with this sustained period of pressure it was again Cardiff who had the more clear cut chances. It arguably should have been 3-0 to City as Gestede rifled a shot from 18 yards out, parried by the keeper to the path of Kim, who watched his effort go agonisingly wide of the right hand post.
Substitution Cardiff City: Jordan Mutch on for Aron Gunnarsson (71 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Craig Bellamy on for Joe Mason (76 mins)
Barnsley carried on pressing and on 76 minutes they had their chance of a breakthrough. After a number of balls into the box a cross from the right hand side eventually fell to Jacob Mellis on the back post, who shot across goal and found the bottom right hand corner. Barnsley were back in the game.
GOAL: BARNSLEY 1 – 2 CARDIFF CITY (JACOB MELLIS, 76 MINS)
Barnsley certainly had their tails up after the goal and were looking to get what would have been an unlikely equaliser. The Tykes found themselves claiming for a penalty with only ten minutes left of the match. The referee had a look and signalled for just a corner. Cardiff players looked aggrieved as they thought Davies had dived.
Substitution Barnsley: Emile Sinclair on for Marcus Tudgay (82 mins)
With the end of the match drawing ever closer, the visitors started to get a much needed hold on the game. However, it did not stop Barnsley getting a corner from a breakaway down field which once again caused problems before being dealt with by Mark Hudson.
Barnsley were given great encouragement when Cardiff debutant Simon Lappin was shown a second yellow and given his marching orders after bringing down the influential Noble-Lazarus midway inside his own half. From the resulting free kick Akos Buszaky gathered the scraps and fired the ball goal wards; Marshall spilled, but luckily for the Scottish international there was no Barnsley player there to capitalise.
With four minutes shown by the fourth official it triggered a nervy end of the game for City. Marshall was once again called upon to intervene and crucially cut out a dangerous cross. Substitute Jordon Mutch eventually broke away with the ball and passed to Noone who took the ball to the corner. Between Gestede and Noone they ate up the clock, winning a couple of corners before the whistle went to signal a fantastic away victory.
FULL TIME: BARNSLEY 1-2 CARDIFF CITY