Luton striker 'gutted' after Barnsley play-off dream is ended by Bolton defeat

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McAtee misses out on final spot with Tykes

Luton striker John McAtee was left ‘gutted’ that his dreams of reaching Wembley in the League One play-off final with Barnsley were dashed despite a 3-2 second leg victory at the Toughsheet Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Tykes had gone into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat at Oakwell on Friday in their first leg contest, in which McAtee had played 88 minutes. He was then in the starting line-up once more in Greater Manchester as Barnsley looked to upset the odds and reach the home of football, the on-loan Hatter helping the visitors get off to the perfect opening, his cross deflecting for Sam Cosgrove to power into the net.

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Bolton then turned the game on its head as Aaron Collins rifled in from distance, before Eoin Toal headed home a corner in stoppage time to make it 2-1. After the break, McAtee was replaced with just over an hour gone, as Barnsley levelled midway through the half when Adam Phillips latched onto Cosgrove’s pass and saw his deflected strike beat Nathan Baxter.

It was then 3-2 to the Tykes on the night with 15 minutes left when Conor Grant’s terrific ball into the box from deep saw Cosgrove nod into the bottom corner. Try as they might, Barnsley couldn’t score again, as it was the Trotters who reached Wembley where they will now play either Oxford or Peterborough, the U’s leading 1-0 from their first leg clash.

Writing on Instagram afterwards, McAtee, who has had a terrific season in Yorkshire, scoring 12 goals in 45 matches, and winning the club’s Goal of the Season award too, said: “Ups and downs like never before and heartbreak to end it, that being said I’m so proud to have been a part of @barnsleyfc this season! Truly gutted with the way it ended last night but we gave it a right go! I can’t thank everyone involved with the club enough, from my team mates to the coaching staff and of course the fans! All the best you reds.”

The Town striker, who is yet to play a competitive match for the Hatters was clearly held in high regard by Barnsley fans for his efforts on loan, as replying to him on social media, @tykes_tv said: “Would have you as a permanent player for us in a heartbeat the passion and spirit you have shown top-man and who knows hopefully we will see in a Barnsley shirt again soon.”

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@antclare78: “Absolute pleasure having you here Macca, gave it when you were on that pitch, even when things dropped off for the team you kept going. All the very best for the future. Once a red always a red.” @Barnsleyfcpolls: “Thank you for everything you did for us this season, 100% graft is all we want from a player, and you gave us that x10. Some stunning goals too. Hope you still have that POTM MUG. One a RED always a Red.”

John McAtee in action for Barnsley against Portsmouth recently - pic: Alex Davidson/Getty ImagesJohn McAtee in action for Barnsley against Portsmouth recently - pic: Alex Davidson/Getty Images
John McAtee in action for Barnsley against Portsmouth recently - pic: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

@samanthaskidm10: “Emotions still flying high from last night! What a star! Going to miss you lad! All the best for the future hope to see you back at Oakwell one day will be watching your next journey thanks again Macca! #oncearedalwayared.” @toptyke1: Massive thanks for your performances for the Reds in my opinion our player of the season by a mile wish we could sign you permanently but I know bigger clubs in championship or even breaking in to Lutons first team all the best for the future Macca.”

@OMGitsNATH: “Absolutely class John. It’s such a shame that you’re far too good for this division never mind the club. All the best lad.” @georgedrans: Thank YOU for everything Macca. Good luck for the future, you will never be forgotten for what you have gave us. COYR.” @BfcClaire: “What a player you've been for us this season! Thank you for everything and wish you every success for your future. We're going to miss you.” @thompsonben92: “If only we had 11 McAtees. Good luck in your career. You'll be welcome back at Oakwell anytime.”

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