Goalscorers: Ashley Ward 17, Egil Ostenstad 24, Scott Jones 31, Matt Le Tissier 40, 70, Jan-Aage Fjortoft 42, Neil Redfearn 57 PEN
Barnsley: Dave Watson, Scott Jones (Eric Tinkler 82), Nicky Eaden, Chris Morgan, Adie Moses, Martin Bullock, Darren Barnard, Darren Sheridan, Neil Redfearn, Jan-Aage Fjortoft, Ashley Ward (Andy Liddell 37, Georgi Hristov 64)
Southampton: Paul Jones, Francis Benali, Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam, Ken Monkou, John Beresford, Matt Oakley, Kevin Richardson (Andy Williams 57), Matt Le Tissier, David Hirst, Egil Ostenstad
Referee: Gerald Ashby, Attendance: 18,368
Barnsley remain one of the smallest clubs to have played in the Premier League and their fans will never forget the 1997-1998 season when they rubbed shoulders in the top-flight with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
They entertained Southampton in March 1998 and were looking to make it three wins in a row after an excellent victory in midweek at Villa Park against Aston Villa. They made the perfect start here too. Ashley Ward, who had scored in that win in the Midlands, put the Tykes into a 17th minute lead. He spun away from his marker Claus Lundekvam and crashed a low shot past Paul Jones’ defences.
Southampton, who were enjoying a comfortable season in the reaches of mid-table, hit back seven minutes later. Egil Ostenstad forced home the equaliser after some patient build-up play and slack home defending. However, Barnsley were showing plenty of character in what was their debut Premier League campaign and in the 31st minute, regained the lead. Jones came for a corner and never looked like getting there. It was his namesake, Scott Jones who won the aerial battle and put the home side back into the lead. Scott Jones had been the hero recently, having scored twice to dump mighty Manchester United out of the FA Cup at the fifth round stage.
The Saints though were producing great entertainment in this topsy-turvy clash and produced a second leveller five minutes before the interval. Jason Dodd broke down the right-hand side and his pinpoint cross was headed into the net by Matt Le Tissier. Just before Le Tissier’s equaliser, Ward was forced off the pitch by a hamstring injury but 120 seconds later, Danny Wilson’s battlers earned themselves a third lead in the match. Midfielder Martin Bullock beat two Southampton players, before crossing the ball for Jan-Aage Fjortoft to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
It was 3-2 at half-time and Barnsley finally earned themselves some breathing space and a two-goal cushion just before the hour mark. Fjortoft’s shirt was tugged in the penalty area by Lundekvam. It looked like a standard jousting contest but referee Gerald Ashby decided there was enough contact to award a foul. Captain Neil Redfearn dispatched the penalty with some aplomb. Dave Jones said afterwards: “The referee told me this was his last match before he retired and maybe he wanted to go out with a bang. I just wish he’d retired before today.”
With 20 minutes left, Le Tissier produced another of his trademark free-kicks to bring the visitors back into the match again but they couldn’t find another equaliser and left Oakwell with nothing to show for their efforts. Southampton finished 12th in the final standings whilst despite going on to beat Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday in home matches during the run-in; Barnsley’s relegation was confirmed at Filbert Street on the final Saturday of the season.