Our U23s fell to a 3-2 defeat to Sheffield United despite a battling performance at Bramall Lane on Tuesday afternoon.
A valiant display was not enough to salvage anything against a strong Blades side which contained members of their first-team squad.
The hosts created opportunities but struggled to find their clinical edge in the early stages, showing visible frustration as the Reds kept them at bay.
Oluwafemi Seriki and Adlène Guédioura both tried their luck within the opening 10 minutes but failed to find the target.
A deft flick from Hassan Ayari put the ball in the path of Rhian Brewster as he raced in behind, but Amir Ariely tracked the forward closely before making a crucial challenge.
The Blades then squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead when Brewster moved the ball on to his left foot inside the box and fired straight at Dan Jinadu in the Reds goal.
Despite the pressure being applied by the Blades, it was the Reds that took the lead.
Joe Ackroyd’s delivery from the right found David Bremang, who escaped close attention to steer the ball past Sheffield United stopper Jake Eastwood.
However, the lead remained intact for just six minutes as Brewster headed home from an Angelo Cappello cross to level proceedings.
The equaliser seemed to light a spark in United, who raised their intensity and were rewarded with an opportunity to take the lead.
A cross from Ayari was adjudged to have struck the hand of a Reds player inside the box and it was the young playmaker that stepped up to convert from 12 yards.
The lead was nearly extended by Brewster but fortunately, Jinadu was on-hand to tip the close-range effort over the woodwork in impressive fashion.
Chances proved difficult to carve open in the late stages of the first half and a speculative effort from Will Lancaster, which was held comfortably, was as close as the Reds came to drawing level before the interval.
HALF-TIME: Sheffield United 2-1 Barnsley
The second half picked up where the first left off as both sides struggled to find their rhythm in the final third.
However, Barnsley threatened just after the hour mark when Jordan Helliwell pulled back to Bremang, who drew an impressive stop from Eastwood.
The strike was parried into the path of Lancaster, but the midfielder’s follow-up strike found the wrong side of the post.
United then came close on two occasions through Ayari, who almost added to his tally with two shots that were well blocked.
The Reds initially struggled to clear their lines after the shots and a third opportunity was presented to the hosts, but Cappello rifled wide.
At the other end, Eastwood was forced to make an excellent save to deny Bremang, who had evaded the wall with his free-kick from 20-yards.
Our U23s persistence eventually paid off when substitute Keegan Hartley was felled inside the box, which allowed Bremang to step up and convert from the penalty spot.
However, as was the case with the first Reds goal, the joy was short-lived.
Leo Gaxha cut in from the right before firing a deflected effort past Jinadu to give United the lead a minute before the end of normal time and clinch three points.
FULL-TIME: Sheffield United 3-2 Barnsley
REDS XI: Jinadu, Hassan-Smith, Helliwell, Ariely, Hodgson, D Benson, Ackroyd, Lancaster, Bremang, Hondermarck, Sherlock (Hartley, 73).
Not used: Aziaya, Hall, Nejman, Smith.