PNE 1 Barnsley 2
Sam Winnall opened the scoring just before the half hour mark, poking home from close range after Marley Watkins’ miss-hit shot had gone across the box into the six yard box for an easy tap in for the Tykes front man.
McGeady then marked his debut with a stunning 25-yard strike to level matters just after the hour mark, but one of Barnsley’s new men then put them back in front, Adam Armstrong breaking quickly and finishing coolly inside the final ten minutes.
Manager Simon Grayson had handed debuts to deadline day signings Marnick Vermijl, Alex Baptiste and Aiden McGeady in a 3-4-3 formation on a mild afternoon at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites had a good opening ten minutes, but it was the visiting skipper Conor Hourihane, just named Championship player of the month for August, who brought the first shot on goal. His snap shot volley from the edge of the box after a ricocheted clearance; well saved by Anders Lindegaard, tipping the ball out of the top right hand corner.
North End were inches away from the opener on 15 minutes when Paul Gallagher’s free kick from 45 yards beat everyone and hit the right hand post, with Adam Davies beaten, but the ball ricocheted away from any waiting North End attackers.
The opening goal came on 27 minutes when Marley Watkins picked up the ball in the left hand corner of the penalty area and shot across goal, passing everyone only for Winnall to tap home on the slide at the back post.
The home side had chances to draw level before the break; firstly Eoin Doyle fed Gallagher on right, he drilled a ball across the edge of six yard box, but Marc Roberts got to it ahead of Callum Robinson to concede a corner.
And just before the interval a long ball from Gallagher was controlled by McGeady, who in turn laid back to Vermijl, but a defender nicked in just in front of the Belgian to concede corner, when it looked like the former Manchester United man was in on goal.
The second half started with North End pressure, with Robinson driving in from the left and drilling a cross from the left byline that took a touch off a Barnsley man, but only away to safety and then skipper Tom Clarke headed inches wide.
But they were level on 64 minutes with a superb strike from debutant McGeady. A corner on the right was played short by Gallagher to Vermijl, who fed the ball inside to McGeady 25 yards out, who took a step left and fired a left foot screamer into the top left hand corner giving Davies no chance.
They then had a great chance to go ahead just three minutes later when Robinson again caused problems down the left and delivered a deep ball for Doyle, but the Irishman’s glancing header took the ball wide of the right hand post from ten yards out.
McGeady was now finding pockets of space and was on the edge of the box when Doyle reached a od down from substitute Jordan Hugill and laid it right to the new No.14, but this time his right footed effort was dragged wide of the right hand post.
The pressure now was immense as the Lilywhites spread the play from one side to another, opening spaces with Hugill and Robinson both having chances; the former from a header from Gallagher’s cross and the latter on the turn after more good play from McGeady.
However, with 11 minutes left a counter-attack saw the visitors back in front. The ball was given away in the middle of the Barnsley half and a long ball into the channel found Adam Armstrong, on debut, who cleverly turned to create space and then curled the ball past Lindegaard into the bottom left hand corner.
Skipper Tom Clarke burst into the box, latching onto a lay off from substitute Makienok and forced a save from Davies as North End looked to put the momentum back into the game after the visitors’ second goal, but Barnsley managed to waste away the added time and hold on for the points.
PNE line-up: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Spurr (Hugill, 60), Baptiste, Clarke (c), Cunningham, Welsh, Gallagher (Johnson, 77), Robinson, Doyle (Makienok, 82), McGeady. Subs not used: Maxwell, Browne, Pringle, Huntington.
Barnsley line-up: Davies, White, Roberts, MacDonald, Scowen, Hammill (Kpekawa, 90), Hourihane (c), Winnall (Morsy, 65), Watkins, Yiadom, Kent (Armstrong, 62). Subs not used: Townsend, Lee, Jackson, Bradshaw.
Attendance: 11,852 (2,110 Barnsley fans)
Referee: Mr G Eltringham