Barnsley 1 (Winnall 77)
Port Vale 2 (Leitch-Smith 40, Foley 47)
Barnsley slipped to their eighth League One defeat in a row despite dominating their opponents for the majority - suffering a 2-1 defeat to Port Vale at Oakwell.
After dominating the play for the vast majority of the half, Ajay Leitch-Smith headed home the only goal of the half five minutes before the break, meeting Michael O’Connor’s cross with a powerful header.
The Valiants doubled their lead two minutes into the second half as Adam Yates pulled back for Sam Foley to score but substitute Sam Winnall pulled a goal back 13 minutes from time.
A flurry of late penalty shouts were all waved away by the referee while Conor Hourihane fired the wrong side of the post at the death as the Reds failed to end their recent poor run.
A nervy opening eight minutes finally came to life as Adam Hammill’s 25-yard volley brought the very best out of Jak Alnwick.
The resulting corner saw Marley Watkins’ header cleared off the line before Hammill’s teasing cross forced Alnwick to punch clear with Ivan Toney lurking dangerously.
Watkins forced another good save from Alnwick on the quarter hour mark, flashing Hammill’s looping pass across goal with the goalkeeper getting down well to deny him.
Michael O’Connor brought the first yellow card of the game for a challenge on Marley Watkins 19 minutes in as the Reds began to force their game on the visitors.
After 28 minutes, George Smith tested Alnwick with a ferocious 25-yard effort while Toney’s skidding effort was well gathered by Alnwick.
Conor Hourihane was the first Reds name in the book on 34 minutes after a late challenge on Anthony Grant while Watkins was unable to connect with Lloyd Isgrove’s dangerous centre.
Vale eventually broke the deadlock five minutes before half time as Barnsley failed to clear a corner, O’Connor swung in a cross and Leitch-Smith looped a header over Adam Davies and in.
In first half stoppage time, Watkins could have levelled the tie, barging through the Vale rear-guard, only to poke wide from close range.
Barnsley began the second half positively, but fell behind just two minutes in. Adam Yates sprinted up the right wing before pulling the ball back for Sam Foley to double Vale’s lead.
Lee Johnson sent on Sam Winnall to replace Toney ten minutes into the second half and he was involved as Barnsley stepped up their search for a goal.
Just before the hour mark, James Bree’s chipped ball in was flapped into Hourihane’s path by Alnwick but the Irishman missed the target from close range.
Michael Smith came on for Isgrove on 62 minutes and the Reds could have pulled a goal back on 67 minutes as Alfie Mawson headed Hammill’s cross just wide.
Winnall failed to convert Hammill’s delivery before Michael Smith’s thumping header from Bree’s cross was pushed behind for a corner.
The Reds did salvage a goal 13 minutes from time through Winnall. Ben Pearson’s cross fell his way and the striker calmly slotted into the bottom corner.
Alnwick was cautioned for timewasting five minutes from the end while Hourihane blasted a deflected effort just wide a minute from time.
Watkins and Grant both received late cautions and despite applying the pressure at the death, there was to be no equaliser for the 8,696 fans.
Reds: Davies, G. Smith, Bree, Mawson, Nyatanga, Hammill, Pearson, Isgrove (M.Smith 62), Watkins, Hourihane, Toney (Winnall 55).
Subs: Townsend, Jackson, Roberts, Abbott, Maris.
Port Vale: Alnwick, Dickinson, McGivern, Duffy, Yates, Foley (Daniel 80), Grant, O'Connor, Moore, Dodds, Leitch-Smith (Ikpeazu 68).
Subs: Neal, Streete, Birchall, Hooper, Kelly.
Referee: Tony Harrington.