On this day: Police escort for referee as Liverpool win at Oakwell

On this day in 1998 referee Gary Willard required a police escort after sending off three Barnsley players in a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool.

A lot rides on modern-day football. There is huge money available just for taking part in the Premier League, with the cost of relegation increasing every year. Even in the earlier years of the Premier League, relegation was a disaster - there are plenty of teams in the lower leagues these days who were once brushing shoulders with the best.

On this day in 1998, two teams clashed at Oakwell in a game that was important for both for very different reasons. The home team, Barnsley, had the chance to move out of the relegation zone with a win while anything but victory for Liverpool would end what was already only a slim chance of winning the title in eight games' time.

Neil Redfearn of Barnsley challenges Oyvind Leonhardsen of Liverpool during the FA Carling Premiership match at Oakwell on March 28, 1998© Getty Images

What followed was not only a thrilling game of football but a lot of drama both off the pitch and on it - a couple of home fans rugby tackled by players being key events. Arguably worse than the enquiry Barnsley were to face was the fact that they would miss three key players for big games of their relegation battle as Darren Sheridan, Darren Barnard and Chris Morgan all saw red in the contest.

Before the drama in the second half, it looked to be going well for Barnsley. It was an end-to-end first half but with 10 to play it was looking like ending goalless. However, Neil Redfearn, the Barnsley captain who was so often their most important player, scored in the 37th minute to send the near-capacity home crowd into raptures. Just before the whistle, however, Karl-Heinz Riedle tapped in from close range to send the sides in level. At the break there was no hint of what was to come.

Just after the break Michael Owen was tripped by Barnard, which saw the left-winger sent off with a straight red card. There was uproar from the stands, but it did not spill over onto the pitch until 12 minutes later, just after Riedle added his second with a brilliant strike from range. It was the threatening Owen who again was involved, this time going down holding his face after clashing with Morgan. The referee Gary Willard saw enough to sent the defender off before he was set upon by an angry supporter.

Jovo Bosancic of Barnsley during the FA Carling Premiership match against Liverpool at Oakwell on March 28, 1998© Getty Images

Coming from the stands, the supporter tried to get to Willard before Jan Aage Fjortoft and other Barnsley players tackled him down. Willard was escorted off the pitch for his own safety with the managers Roy Evans for Liverpool and Danny Wilson unsure whether the game had been abandoned. However, five minutes later the game did resume - but the drama was far from over.

Back to the football and even though the Tykes were two men and a goal down they made sure that they would give everything to earn a point. Georgi Hristov had come on and started causing havoc. Initially after chasing down a clearance he forced Phil Babb into what looked like handball, and although that incident was not given Hristov was brought down a few moments later by Babb, with Redfearn scoring from the spot for what looked an unlikely point.

In the last minute Steve McManaman turned in a free kick from the left, which created a ruck between the players and a final red card for Barnard, who was protesting strongly. More fans invaded the pitch after this decision with this time Paul Ince taking one to the ground before he could get to the referee, who was again escorted off at the full-time whistle as the Reds claimed three huge points in a dramatic game.

Manager Gary Johnson of Yeovil watches on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Yeovil Town at Turf Moor on August 17, 2013
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