Reds 2 (Winnall 45+4, 83 pen)
Oldham Athletic 1 (Main 68)
Barnsley kept their hunt for a play-off place alive after a hard-fought 2-1 win against Oldham Athletic.
In a first half of few chances, Sam Winnall struck the post after being slipped in by Ivan Toney before Winnall netted the opener in first half stoppage time.
Toney had the ball in the net again moments after half time only for the offside to deny him doubling Barnsley’s lead before Curtis Main drew Oldham level.
Winnall bagged the winner from the penalty spot seven minutes from time after Tareiq Holmes-Dennis upended Adam Hammill and the striker tucked away his 20th goal of the season with great aplomb.
The Latics had the opening chance of the half as Curtis Main poked Mike Jones’ pass just wide of the mark but the Reds instantly responded, Sam Winnall heading Adam Hammill’s cross inches over.
The Reds kept the pressure on with Alfie Mawson flicking Conor Hourihane’s seventh minute free kick just wide while Main forced Adam Davies into his first save of the evening, smartly denying the Doncaster loanee from range.
The Reds came the closest to opening the scoring just before the half hour as Ivan Toney’s incisive pass left Winnall one-on-one with Joel Coleman.
The striker curled his effort around the goalkeeper but it crashed back into play off the post and rebounded to safety.
Having already lost winger Carl Winchester to an early injury, his replacement, Brian Wilson, was taken away on a stretcher after colliding with Coleman, Jonathan Forte came on in his place.
Six minutes before the break, Main spun away from Mawson and fed Liam Kelly but the midfielder shot tamely at Davies before Ivan Toney nodded James Bree’s cross agonizingly wide minutes later.
The Reds were forced into making their first change of the night just before the break when James Bree was replaced after suffering a suspected hamstring problem, forcing nine minutes of added time.
In the fourth of those additional minutes, the Reds made the breakthrough as Hourihane’s corner was headed home from six yards by Winnall, giving the Reds a precious 1-0 lead.
After surviving an early scare, the Reds thought they had doubled their lead as Winnall found Toney but the striker was flagged offside as he fired home from the middle of the area.
A fracas broke out inside the area on 54 minutes following a corner, involving a number of players from both sides. The overall outcome was a caution each for Winnall and Coleman.
Oldham substitute Jack Tuohy spooned an effort over the crossbar before Main drove at the Reds defence only to roll his effort inches wide of Davies’ post.
The Latics did level the game after 68 minutes as Cameron Dummigan’s low ball in was rifled home by Main just beyond the reach of Davies.
Barnsley almost levelled two minutes later as Oldham failed to move out quickly enough, allowing Winnall to volley at goal only for a stunning Coleman save to tip his effort onto post.
A Marc Roberts long throw 15 minutes from time saw the ball spring loose to Winnall but he failed to make a clean contact and Coleman came to Oldham’s rescue again.
The game-changing moment came seven minutes from time as a clever free-kick routine saw Adam Hammill draw a foul from Tareiq Holes-Dennis, giving the Reds a penalty,
Winnall stepped up and coolly tucked away his 20th goal of an impressive season and his 11th in 2016.
Ashley Fletcher could have added a third late on as his tenacious running saw him break clear of the Latics defence but a last-ditch challenge prevented him finding the net late on.
The visitors spurned a late chance to draw level as Jonathan Forte’s downward header was smartly saved by Davies as the Reds kept pace with their fellow play-off rivals in front 8,871 fans.
Reds: Davies, Bree (G. Williams, 42’ ), Roberts, Mawson, A. White, Watkins (Scowen, 87’ ), Brownhill, Hourihane, Hammill, Toney (Fletcher, 65’ ), Winnall.
Subs: Townsend, Nyatanga, Chapman, Isgrove.
Oldham: Coleman, Dummigan, J. Wilson, Gerrard, Holmes-Dennis, Winchester (B. Wilson, 20’ (Forte, 34’ )), Dieng, Kelly, Jones (Tuohy, 46’ ), Main, Cassidy.
Subs: Cornell, Brown, Mills, Croft.
Attendance: 8,871 (526 Oldham)