Barnsley clinch all three points with a 4-1 win over Gillingham at Oakwell in Sky Bet League OneGillingham slipped to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Barnsley at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall gave the hosts a 2-0 advantage at the break before substitute Devante Cole made it three with a powerful left foot strike.
Danny Kedwell pulled one back following a rebounded penalty, but Dale Jennings put the result beyond doubt shortly afterwards to give Danny Wilson’s side all three points.
Peter Taylor made three changes to the side that drew with Swindon Town at Priestfield on Tuesday – Jermaine McGlashan, Brennan Dickenson and Aaron Morris came into the starting line up to replace Matt Fish, Callum Davies and Luke Norris.
There was a surprising return to the subs bench for Cody McDonald, with Davies and Norris joining him for company.
The game got off to a fairly even start with Gills shading the possession statistics – the only half chances courtesy of headers from Dickenson and Kedwell which were off target and comfortably saved respectively.
However on 14 minutes it was Barnsley who created the best chance to break the deadlock – Leroy Lita held up the ball on the left flank and had Joe Dudgeon in support.
The left back whipped a great ball away from Bywater and the incoming Luke Berry could only hit the side netting with a decent headed effort.
The hosts began to progressively control the play and on 22 minutes they got their reward with the opening goal.
Hourihane advanced with the ball and decided to try his luck from 30 yards. The strike was clean and well directed, and even with Bywater at full stretch, he could do nothing to stop the ball hitting the top corner.
Gills found it difficult to get a foothold on the game as the hosts settled having secured their advantage, and on the half hour mark they scored again.
Reece Brown worked his way into a yard of space on the right wing and delivered a ball towards the penalty spot which Winnall met well with his headed, and guided the effort beyond Bywater who, again, could do nothing about it.
Barnsley controlled play for large periods before the break, with only a low right footed effort from McGlashan troubling Adam Davies who made a comfortable save.
Barnsley continued to have the better of possession in the early stages of the second half and Winnall had a couple of chances to further increase the lead.
Firstly Bywater was down quickly to thwart the striker’s attempts to round him and convert into an empty net.
The striker then headed over by a yard following a floated corner from the left hand side.
Luke Berry went narrowly close with a long range effort before Barnsley did eventually net for a third time.
Devante Cole, the son of former Manchester United and England striker Andy, hadn’t been on the pitch for very long before scoring his first goal for the club on his debut.
Jennings had produced a low cross from the left wing and the young striker did well to make clean contact, beat Bywater, and the ball hit the underside of the bar before crossing the line.
With the home fans thinking the game was won Gillingham earned themselves a penalty when McGlashan was fouled by Dudgeon, and Kedwell took the responsibility of converting the spot kick.
His effort was saved but he was on hand to slot away the rebound for the second time in five days.
Gills went in search of a second but were dealt a sucker punch when the Reds scored a fourth on 78 minutes. A free kick was half blocked by the wall, and the ball rather fortuitously for the hosts found its way to Jennings who finished well with his right foot and beat Bywater into the bottom corner.
Barnsley, who were relegated from the Championship last year, continued to press with Abbott’s shot going just wide before Bywater produced a decent save to deny Jennings.
The woodwork was struck in the closing stages by the hosts, but in the end they have to make do with four as the visitors walked off with no points.
Barnsley: Davies, Brown, Dudgeon, Berry, Nyatanga, Cranie, Treacy (Jennings 64), Hourihane, Winnall (Hemmings 79), Abbott, Lita (Cole 64)
Unused subs: Digby, M’Voto, Bree, Turnbull
Gills: Bywater, Hoyte, Legge, Hause, Egan, A Morris (McDonald 61), Hessenthaler, Dack, McGlashan (Norris 79), Dickenson (Pritchard 61), Kedwell.
Unused subs: G Morris, Fish, Davies, German
Referee: Mr C Berry
Attendance: 9163 (288 Gills)