Harry Wilson scored a sumptuous equaliser – and then wasted a glorious stoppage time chance to give Fulham all three points at Barnsley this afternoon following Carlton Morris’ controversial first half penalty. Tim Robinson’s ridiculous decision to award a spot-kick late in the first period looked likely to cost Fulham for so long as the tenacious Tykes battled bravely to protect their lead. Home hearts were broken when Wilson curled a majestic equaliser into the top corner but he somehow sent a stooping header wide of an open goal in stoppage time as the league leaders had to make do with a point.
It extended Fulham’s unbeaten run away from home to a club record-equalling eleven matches, but it wasn’t the result that Marco Silva would have wanted to leave Oakwell with. A frustrating afternoon in Yorkshire began promisingly enough with plenty of threat along the left flank provided by the rampaging runs of Antonee Robinson. Aleksandar Mitrovic almost punished a poor pass out from the back after swapping passes with Fabio Carvalho, but the Serbian’s shot was blocked by Mads Andersen.
Barnsley had even luckier escape a couple of minutes later. Bobby Decorodova-Reid started and very nearly finished a flowing move down the Fulham left only for his shot to be scrambled off the line by Michael Helik into the grateful arms of Brad Collins. The Whites were playing some sublime one-touch football and another excellent attack Robinson and Wilson fashion a chance for Carvalho on the edge of the box, but the talented teenager shot wide of the near post.
Poya Asbaghi’s side had switched to a back four in an attempt to diminish Fulham’s fluency but they weren’t contain with merely getting red shirts behind the ball. Morris underlined their intent with an ambitious long-range drive, before the outstanding Liam Kitching looping a cross beyond the back post for Remy Vita. The ball broke for Matty Woolfe whose deflected shot looked likely to fall kindly for a team-mate before Tim Ream cleared in the nick of time.
Fulham still looked the likelier scorers with Carvalho springing the offside trap following a clever link-up with Decordova-Reid but Collins did brilliantly to claw away a shot that the goalkeeper would have seen very late through a forest of legs. The most decisive moment of the first half came at the other end just before the break. Tosin Adarabioyo dwelt in possession and was dispossessed by Morris who scurried into the penalty area, clutching the centre half’s shirt. Morris tumbled in the box and the danger appeared to have passed, until Robinson belatedly pointed to the spot. Television replays confirmed the generosity of the decision but Morris stepped up to send Rodak the wrong way and give Barnsley a precious lead.
It could have got even better for the home side in stoppage time. Morris looked to have lifted a smart finish over the advancing Rodak after being left free in the box, only for Ream to brilliant hook the shot off the line before painfully colliding with the near post. Marco Silva replaced the ineffectual Jean Michael Seri with Tom Cairney for the second half and it took the captain only a couple of minutes to make an impact teeing up Carvalho, who shot wildly over with the first opening after the restart.
Cairney’s vision looked the most probable route to unlocking a disciplined Barnsley back line. He produced a peach of a ball to put Wilson in behind the defence down the right and the Welsh winger’s low cut back was lashed over the bar by Decordova-Reid as the Jamaican international burst into space on the edge of the box. The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession but were struggling to find the penetration to match, leaving Silva to send out both Ivan Cavaleiro and Rodrigo Muniz in a desperate search for a late leveller.
It arrived courtesy of Wilson’s wondrous finish. The Welsh international bent a brilliant finish into the top corner after being allowed the time to cut onto his favoured left foot inside the area. The goal owed plenty to Cairney’s desire to win a fifty-fifty in the middle of the field as a loose ball broke in his direction and Carvalho’s swift switch of play to the right. Given Wilson’s particularly high standards, he will be devastated not to have clinched a dramatic comeback in stoppage time when he somehow nodded Carvalho’s deep cross fractionally wide of the far post.
The point will probably feel like a defeat for Barnsley, who are locked in a real tussle at the wrong end of the table. An unlikely win would have given them a huge boost as they look to hunt down Reading, who still have to come to Oakwell before the end of the season, and pull off a miraculous escape. The Tykes might have former Fulham forward, Cauley Woodrow, who was watching on from the stands today, back for that crunch game as he nears a recovery from knee surgery – but if Asbaghi’s men can match this level of intensity and endeavour they will surely come close to safety.
BARNSLEY (4-2-3-1): Collins; Brittain, Kitching, Helik, Andersen; Gomes, Wolfe (Palmer 68); Vita (Oduor 90), Quina, Bassi (Benson 82); Morris. Subs (not used): Walton, Halme, Hondermarck, Cole.
BOOKED: Wolfe, Kitching, Morris, Quina.
GOAL: Morris (pen 44).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Williams, A. Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream; Reed (Cavaleiro 71), Seri (Cairney 45); Wilson, Decordova-Reid (Muniz 80), Carvalho; Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Gazzaniga, Tete, Hector, Chalobah.
BOOKED: Adarabioyo, Ream, A. Robinson.
GOAL: Wilson (86).
REFEREE: Tim Robinson (West Sussex).