CHERRIES headed off into 18 miles of M1 roadworks feeling like Charlton did on Tuesday night.
It was a tale of poor finishing from both sides up until Steve Cook’s last-gasp stoppage time goal handed Cherries all three points in a largely dour clash at Oakwell.
Having gone down to a late goal at the Valley in midweek, this was poetic justice for a Cherries side that never gives up.
The other positive for Eddie Howe was a fifth clean sheet in six Championship games – no mean feat in a league as wacky and unpredictable as this one.
Boss Howe made two changes to the side that went down 1-0 at Charlton in midweek, with Yann Kermorgant returning to the starting line-up after recovering from a heel injury and Matt Ritchie replacing Harry Arter as Howe opted for a four-man midfield.
It was the home side that fashioned the first chance after just a few seconds, Chris O’Grady heading straight at Lee Camp after Jack Hunt had robbed Andrew Surman of possession in midfield.
Hunt was involved again moments later when he appeared to pull the shirt of Ryan Fraser as the little winger tore towards goal, but the Scot’s appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Scott Mathieson.
Tykes keeper Steele saved well from Fraser after six minutes, before O’Grady blazed over at the other end five minutes later.
The dangerous Dale Jennings saw his 15th-minute shot deflected over Camp’s crossbar as the hosts settled, but Steele was fortunate on 20 minutes after he failed to cling on to a Ritchie piledriver, which trickled narrowly past the post.
Surman should have handed Cherries the lead on the half-hour. The Norwich loanee was beautifully played in by Kermorgant and only had Steele to beat, but managed to skew his deft chip over the advancing goalkeeper wide. It was a wonderful chance.
At the other end, Martin Woods spurned a great opportunity to put Danny Wilson’s side in front eight minutes before the break. Camp spilled a cross from Ryan McLaughlin while under pressure and the ball fell invitingly for Woods with the goal gaping but he fired wide.
Marcus Pedersen gave Cook the slip at the start of the second half, but shanked his right-foot shot horribly wide. At the other end moments later, Fraser’s own effort was equally as poor.
Ritchie fired straight at Steele on 52 minutes as Cherries battled to find an opening, while Eunan O’Kane’s strike from distance was well wide of the target.
Pedersen was guilty of another dire miss 20 minutes into the second period when, having been expertly played in by O’Grady, he blazed woefully wide when bearing down on goal. It was the tale of the match at that point.
On 70 minutes, Surman added to the shots off target tally when his left-foot effort failed to trouble Steele, before Ritchie’s lovely dipping shot eight minutes later came back off the crossbar.
A nice Cherries set-piece move saw Harte feed Grabban, but captain Tommy Elphick’s header from the striker’s cross was too weak and easily saved by Steele.
Ian Harte was on hand to block a shot from Pedersen after the Tykes had launched a quick break away as the clock ticked down, while Steele made arguably the save of the match from Ritchie’s close-range prod three minutes from time, the home keeper getting down well at the feet of Ritchie after good work from Kermorgant had carved the opening.
But Cherries had the last laugh when Kermorgant saw his thumping header from Harte’s corner saved by Steele before Cook bundled the ball home with the Tykes keeper unable to do more.
Tykes: Steele; Hunt (Cywka, h-t) Nyatanga, Ramage (M’voto, 82), Kennedy; McLaughlin, Woods (Mellis, 78), Dawson; Jennings; Pedersen, O’Grady.
Unused subs: Lawrence, Proschwitz, McCourt, Turner (g/k).
Cherries: (4-4-2) Camp; Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte; Ritchie, Surman, O’Kane, Fraser; Kermorgant, Grabban.
Unused subs: Ward, Smith, Arter, Pugh, Rantie, Pitman, Allsop (g/k).
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire).
Attendance: 9.392 (280 away fans).