The Bantams were defeated for the first time on their travels this season at the hands of Barnsley at Oakwell this Sunday afternoon. Jason Kennedy gave City a dream start as he slotted his side into the lead within the opening 45 seconds of the match.
The hosts raised their game massively in the second half and an own goal from McArdle and a goal from Sam Winnall had the hosts ahead midway through the second half and a stoppage time goal from substitute Kane Hemmings sealed the three points for the hosts.
Phil Parkinson made just a single change to the side that won 2-0 against Crewe Alexandra at home last weekend; Billy Knott came back into the starting line-up ahead of Filipe Morais who was dropped to the substitutes’ bench for this one.
Forty five seconds into the game, City’s 2,000 travelling fans were sent into delirium as Kennedy slotted past one-time Chelsea goalkeeper Ross Turnbull for the opening goal. Mark Yeates played a neat one-two with fellow Irishman Billy Clarke before picking out the run of Kennedy who had got in behind left back Nyatanga and he found the far corner, though Turnbull did get what proved to be a weak hand on the ball.
Barnsley did respond well to this setback and were keen on testing Jordan Pickford from long range; Luke Berry was the first to try his luck with an angled shot from 20 yards that looked to be heading towards the top corner but for the reactions of the young loanee goalkeeper.
The Tykes’ top scorer Conor Hourihane was the next to try and beat Pickford from range but his shot that was certainly on target had to be tipped round the post alertly. Winnall then saw a thunderous shot from distance clawed away as the hosts put some pressure on City’s defensive resolve.
City went close to doubling their lead a few minutes later; Alan Sheehan’s corner was helped towards the near post by a flick from McArdle and Clarke on the turn poked the ball inches wide of the target.
The Bantams were almost caught out after spending too much time playing the ball out from the back; Andrew Davies saw a pass charged down and Winnall made his way into the area before seeing a firm angled drive clip the cross bar.
Pickford, who in all honesty was probably City’s best player on the day, made a fantastic save on the stroke of half time to send his side into the break still in the lead. Hourihane clipped a cross into the area and Winnall’s glancing header looked to be looping towards the far corner but he saved and held the ball well.
It took only three minutes of the second half for the hosts to find an equalising goal. Hourihane’s free kick seemed to be glanced into the far corner by Nyatanga but replays showed that the goal went down as an own goal from McArdle, a very unfortunate one at that.
Winnall was voted as man of the match by the match sponsors and he was having a bright outing. After seeing an audacious 30 yard drive go a yard or so wide of the target, he found the goal he craved not long after. Nyatanga got forward well down the left and found space to overlap a teammate and deliver a cross to the near post which was tucked away to give the hosts the lead for the first time in the match.
Substitute Morais went up the other end a few minutes later in an attempt to bring City an almost immediate equaliser. The Portuguese winger was direct in his approach running straight at Barnsley’s back line of defence before producing a cross shot to the far post which just had too much pace for the on-rushing Billy Clarke.
Unfortunately, City didn’t prove to be a great threat for Barnsley in the second half as the hosts looked ever brighter going forward as the half grew older. Winnall looked to get onto the score sheet once again and he was denied by another smart stop by Pickford to keep the visitors in the game as a contest.
Loanee Manchester City forward Devante Cole was attempting to expose the Bantams with his pace on the counter attack and after getting the better of Davies he saw a low cut back, which was going to be left on a plate for Winnall to surely score, but the ball was expertly diverted away from the former Scunthorpe frontman by Stephen Darby.
City huffed and puffed in an attempt to find an equaliser and in doing so space was left for the hosts to exploit on the counter and that they did in the sixth minute of injury time as substitute Hemmings put the icing on the cake with a tidy third Barnsley goal.