Blackburn Rovers 2 (King 29, Rochina 44, Rhodes 90+8)
The Reds left it too little, too late and had their work cut out due to a poor first half. Just when it seemed Barnsley were back in it thanks to Stephen Dawson’s glorious finish, Marcus Tudgay suffered from what looked like a dislocated shoulder and the ten men were undone by Jordan Rhodes’ injury-time sealer.
O’Brien did well to control on six minutes but his shot was blocked after Perkins did the hard work of closing down Rovers skipper Murphy. Whilst the away support were happily chanting protests against their current owners, Barnsley were on the front foot.
A decent chance from a set-piece fell the Reds’ way on nine minutes but Davies fired his initial effort into the wall and rebound into the stands from 25 yards.
Davies powered his way past Dann and into the box moments later but was blocked out, as was O’Brien from the rebound.
On 15 minutes Dawson tried a replica of Hassell’s attempt against Birmingham as the Rovers stopper Kean failed to clear properly but Murphy blocked the Dubliner’s attempt as the crowd screamed ‘shoot’.
Done seemed to be through on 16 minutes but bizarrely decided to run wide and waste the chance. At the other end Steele denied Rovers’ first attempt when King shot straight at the Reds’ number one.
The Barnsley defence dissipated when Olsson charged forward to put a pass on a platter for Rhodes but the £8million man scooped over from 12 yards with just Steele to beat.
After a short break in play due to injuries to Done and Dann, O’Brien tested Kean with a low drive but it was at the other end the deadlock was broken on 29 minutes. Josh King sprinted past the Barnsley defence and dinked past Steele from the left-hand channel of the box.
The goal-scorer found himself in the referee’s notebook a minute later after diving right under the referee’s nose.
Olsson blasted a 20-yard free-kick straight into the wall on 31 minutes and Barnsley needed to gain a foothold in the match.
With the clock ticking down to half time Blackburn doubled their advantage. Reuben Rochina seemed to have all the time and space in the world as he jinked into the box from the left and thumped home.
Kean was forced into a tidy save as he denied Dawson’s 35-yard strike – Barnsley were desperate for a goal. At the other end King put a great cross in for Rhodes but he struck wide from six yards. Davies got in at goal but was thwarted by Kean from six yards after showing great strength.
At the break Hill made two changes with Academy products John Stones and Reuben Noble-Lazarus replacing Scott Wiseman and John Matt Done. The visitors made a change themselves with Colin Kazim-Richards replacing Simon Vukcevic.
Tudgay slipped Davies in but Dann got a great block in to deny him a one-on-one. Noble-Lazarus was looking lively and jinked his way into the box but his cross was cleared.
A 30-yard free-kick from O’Brien was fired straight into the arms of Kean on 58 minutes with the visitors happy to just sit and protect their two-goal lead.
Rochina was all over the Reds and he had two shots in quick succession from two separate passages of play. First he blasted at Steele from 30 yards before picking the pocket of Perkins and trying to chip Steele on 62 minutes.
Thankfully for Barnsley Rochina was substituted by Rovers with Markus Olsson replacing him with 22 minutes left to play.
Reuben Noble-Lazarus was looking bright down the left and teased the Blackburn defence with a couple of fizzing crossed.
The Reds made their third and final change on 70 minutes with Emile Sinclair coming on for Craig Davies.
With just over 14 to play Stephen Dawson pulled something magical out of the bag when he picked up possession down the left and charged into the box before unleashing a special shot that hammered into Keane’s top left-hand corner.
Tudgay put his head in where it hurt as Dawson sent in a deep cross but the Forest loanee collided with Kean forcing the stretcher to be called on. Barnsley would have to play the remaining ten minutes with ten men as Tudgay was taken off on the stretcher suffering from what looked like a nasty shoulder injury.
With the Reds now looking to claw their way back a man down, Rovers introduced Portugal legend Nuno Gomes. Nine minutes of injury time was indicated by the fourth official.
McNulty lost possession next to his own box and allowed Hanley to cross for Gomes but the striker blasted wide with practically an open goal to aim at.
Four minutes into added time Sinclair looped a header at goal but Kean saved comfortably away to his right. The Reds weren’t giving up and Dawson worked wonders to backheel for Golbourne to cross when it seemed the ball was dead but it wouldn’t drop for a red shirt.
McNulty failed to clear a long ball and only allowed Mr £8million man Jordan Rhodes in on goal. Despite barely having a kick all night he found himself in on goal and tucked into the bottom corner.
Reds: Steele, Golbourne, Foster, Dawson, O'Brien, Davies (Sinclair 68), Done (Noble-Lazarus 46), Perkins, Wiseman (Stones 46), McNulty, Tudgay.
Subs not used: Lidakevicius, Hassell, Harewood, Greening.
Blackburn Rovers: Kean, Olsson, Lowe, Rhodes, Murphy, King (Gomes 90), Dann, Rochina (Olsson 68), Henley, Hanley, Vukcevic (Kazim-Richards 46).
Subs not used: Usai, Morris, Henrique, Rosado.
Referee: Scott Mathieson.
Attendance: 9153 (1250 Away)