Reds 6 (Mawson 8, Winnall 52, 69, 89, Watkins 84, Long 90)
Rochdale 1 (Mendez-Laing 65)
Barnsley continued their unbeaten start to 2016 with a 6-1 hammering of Keith Hill's Rochdale as the Reds ran riot.
Alfie Mawson flicked in the only goal of the half, latching onto Adam Hammill’s perfect delivery for his fifth Reds goal of the season for a 1-0 half time lead.
Sam Winnall doubled the lead following a fast break early in the second half but Dale replacement Nathaniel Mendez-Laing headed home moments after coming on.
Reds replacement Ashley Fletcher slipped in Winnall for his seventh goal in four league games before turning provider for Marley Watkins six minutes from time.
Winnall completed his treble a minute from the end, heading home from close range while Kevin Long added further gloss to the scoreline with his second Reds goal in stoppage time.
The result is the Reds’ fourth straight win in the League and moves Barnsley five points clear of danger.
The visitors threatened first as Michael Rose’s corner was blazed over by Peter Vincenti inside the opening six minutes but the hosts edged ahead less than two minutes later.
Adam Hammill’s trickery brought the game’s first free kick and from it, the winger centered for Alfie Mawson to glance home his second Reds goal is as many games.
Hammill almost doubled the lead just past the quarter hour, volleying Winnall’s inviting knockdown inches over the crossbar from 30 yards.
Callum Camps came close to equalising on 21 minutes, the Rochdale midfielder’s scuffed effort rolled past Adam Davies but was cleared off the line by George Williams.
Sam Winnall released Marley Watkins just before the half hour but Lillis raced out to deny him while just past the half hour, Hammill’s chip from 25-yards drifted just wide.
Davies produced a fine save to deny Camps’ 20-yard drive on 36 minutes while a slick passing move just before the break culminated in James Bree slipping in Winnall, only for the striker to prod straight at Lillis as the half drew to a close.
Five minutes into the second half, Ian Henderson’s effort deflected away from Davies, but the stopper recovered well to keep him out.
Barnsley doubled their lead on the 52nd minute as Hammill raced clear from Watkins’ delicate flick before unselfishly squaring for Winnall to slot home his 12th league goal of the season.
He almost made it 13 for the season just past the hour, firing straight at Lillis from a tight angle but Rochdale found a way back into the game moments later.
Michael Rose’s corner was met by the head of substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, making the score 2-1 with 65 minutes played.
Dale’s Joe Bunney was denied a certain goal by a fantastic block from Bree and the Reds restored their two goal cushion moments later.
Substitute Ashley Fletcher, who had been on the field less than a minute, raced through and slid the ball across the goal for Winnall to slot home his seventh goal in his last four League One games.
A goalmouth scramble almost led to a fourth with Watkins and Fletcher both seeing efforts blocked nine minutes from time but the aforementioned forward was to get in on the act.
Tenacious play from Fletcher saw the ball break for Winnall on the edge of the area. He slid it through for Watkins who powered the ball home underneath Lillis.
It could have been five as two minutes from time as clever link-up play between Winnall and Watkins saw the latter released, only for the offside flag to prevent Hammill inflicting further damage.
However, Winnall completed his hat-trick a minute from time, heading in following Fletcher’s towering leap to beat Lillis to the ball.
There was even time for a sixth for the 8,823 fans, to enjoy as Kevin Long rose highest to head home Conor Hourihane’s delivery.
Reds: Davies, G.Williams, Mawson, Long, Bree (Roberts 83), Hourihane, Brownhill (Scowen 79), Isgrove (Fletcher 68), Hammill, Winnall, Watkins.
Subs: Townsend, R. Williams, H.White, Templeton.
Rochdale: Lillis, McNulty, Lancashire, Vincenti, Lund, Andrew (Bunney 59), McDermott (Allen 60), Rose, Cannon (Mendez-Laing 60), Camps, Henderson.
Subs: Rafferty, Bennett, Noble-Lazarus, Diba Musangu.
Referee: Nigel Miller.
Attendance: 8,823 (507)