Watford 2 (Eustace 33, 68)
Reds 1 (Golbourne 84)
Watford held on for all the points in a really tight battle at Vicarage Road. Scott Golbourne opened up his Reds account with a well-taken goal but the hosts battled hard to keep the Reds at bay.
The opening half an hour was a real battle of attrition as neither side gave one another an inch to operate. In fairness the hosts boasted the better of the few opening chances with Kacaniklic firing just wide on 15 minutes.
Albeit uneventful, the effort was there from both outfits - cancelling each other out at every available opportunity.
From a decent Tonge corner, Rob Edwards rose highest to meet the delivery but could only power his header straight at Loach.
And, as always seems the case in football, a goal came from out of nowhere thanks to the improvisation of Eustace. The midfielder volleyed home over his shoulder after Murray's free-kick kindly deflected into his path on 33 minutes.
The energetic Done was working the channels well as the Reds looked for a response but saw a shot blocked after some tenacious play.
Keith Hill rallied the troops at the interval and his side started the second period strongly but it was the hosts who had the next chance. The scorer Eustace wasted a glorious header from eight yards when he beat the offside trap.
Just three minutes before the hour saw Scott Golbourne introduced to the mix for his Barnsley début.
The work rate from both sets of players was incredible and Watford were proving a tough nut to crack but the Reds soldiered on - passing their way forward when possible.
With the temperature plummeting, Perkins turned up the heat with a delicious free-kick that was begging to be tucked home on 65 minutes but nobody was there to meet it.
Chances were very few, but Eustace capitalised on another loose ball to tuck home his and Watford's second. As the Reds players appealed for handball, the Hornets' skipper took no notice and ploughed on to put past a helpless Steele. The Watford skipper replicated his first goal - something from nothing.
Despite both sides showing little going forward, Steele's finger was still on the slow pulse of the match as Deeney tried to catch out the Barnsley stopper.
With six minutes to play, débutante Golbourne salvaged a lifeline with a neat finish. Wiseman dinked over a lovely ball to Davies and the ball eventually fell for Golbourne at the far stick and he made no mistake from eight yards.
The hosts were clinging on as the Reds built a head of steam and the groans of anxiety could be heard from the home fans.
A great sigh of relief came when the referee blew his whistle after over five minutes of stoppage time - there can be no questioning Hill's side's efforts.
Watford: Loach, Hobson, Eustace, Mariappa, Deeney, Doyley, Kacaniklic (Buaben 69), Murray, Garner, Hogg, Nosworthy.
Subs: Bond, Dickinson, Yeates, Iwelumo.
Reds: Steele, Edwards, Foster, Davies, Done (Dagnall 46), Perkins, Wiseman, McNulty (Doyle 68), Smith, Gray, Tonge (Golbourne 57).
Subs: Preece, Hassell.
Referee: Roger East
Assistant Referees: Darren Blunden & Adam Crysell
Fourth Official: John Hopkins
Attendance: 11,306 (522 Reds supporters)