Barnsley U23s were left to rue a host of missed chances as Birmingham City snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Friday.
Martin Devaney’s, dominant throughout the game, had taken a deserved lead through Amir Berkovits’ first half strike before Kyle McFarlane’s late double saw the Blues leave South Yorkshire with all three points.
The City striker had also seen a penalty rattle the crossbar before the break, while Barnsley hit the woodwork through Lloyd Isgrove’s header on a frustrating afternoon at the Oakwell Training Complex.
However, there were positives for Head Coach Daniel Stendel as both Isgrove and Zeki Fryers came through the game unscathed as they work their way back to full fitness.
Birmingham came close to opening the scoring when Olly McCoy cut in from the right and unleashed a fierce drive high at goal that flashed narrowly wide of the far post.
In light of that early warning sign, the Reds clicked into gear and broke the deadlock when Berkovits converted at the second attempt after being played through one-on-one by Tai-Reece Chisholm.
Barnsley continued to carve out opportunities at will and almost doubled their lead, but Isgrove saw his shot well-saved by the onrushing Michael Luyambula before Chisholm’s rebound was blocked.
Kieran Feeney then broke down the left flank and fired a fine cross into the area for Berkovits to meet on the half-volley, only for the tricky winger to skew his effort wide.
Moments later, the visitors broke and Josh Andrews was brought down in the penalty area by Jasper Moon. However, it was a reprieve for the Reds as McFarlane slammed his attempt against the bar from 12-yards.
There was still time for one last chance before the interval as Isgrove latched onto a through ball only to be denied once more by Luyambula, while Berkovits saw his follow-up cleared off the line as Birmingham made it to half-time just one goal down.
The second half followed a similar pattern as Isgrove was denied by the woodwork after rising highest to meet Louis Wardle’s cross.
Berkovits saw another attempt hacked off the line when he headed Isgrove’s cross towards goal, before firing over the bar moments later after being picked out by Feeney.
However, a one-goal lead is always dangerous and the Blues capitalised on a lapse of concentration as McFarlane headed home the equaliser with 14 minutes remaining.
And, in the blink of an eye, an unlikely turnaround was complete when the City striker reacted quickest to gobble up the rebound after Ryan Stirk’s free-kick had been parried to seal all three points for the visitors.
REDS XI: Trialist, Wardle, Moon, Fielding (c), Trialist, Barnett, Fryers (Palmer, 65), Berkovits, Chisholm, Isgrove (Walsh, 69), Feeney (McDonagh, 75)
Not used: Smith, Simpson
BLUES XI: Luyambula, Forrest, Burke, McGlip, Bajrami, Redmond, McCoy, Agustein (Stirk, 65), McFarlane, Andrews (Amartey, 80), Anderson (Hurst, 46)
Not used: Dawes