The Reds go to 4th placed Birmingham at St Andrew's and come away with a massive victory..
Another stunning trip to the Midlands for Paul Heckingbottom’s Reds as a goal from Marc Roberts and a Sam Winnall brace saw Barnsley move up to 12th in the table with this 3-0 away win.
Roberts’ first half header from Conor Hourihane’s superb free-kick gave the Reds a slender lead at the interval. The lead increased after the break courtesy of two bullet Winnall headers as the Reds proved too hot to handle for the hosts who were reduced to 10 men when David Davis was dismissed for two bookable offences.
It was a much-changed starting lineup for Hecky’s team as Angus MacDonald came in for Adam Jackson at the back; Sam Morsy and Ryan Kent returned to midfield with the suspended Marley Watkins and Adam Hammill replaced; Tom Bradshaw was chosen to partner Winnall up front with Adam Armstrong dropping down to the bench.
Hecky’s lads started the game on the front foot and after one or two raids forward Kent looked to have been tripped inside the box but to much amazement he was booked by referee Mr Coote for simulation.
Soon after, Kent slipped Winnall in just inside the box and his fierce drive was deflected wide by the out-stretched arm of former Red Ryan Shotton, but the ref waved away the claims for a penalty kick.
From the resulting corner, Kent beat his man at the by-line and was again felled by a Birmingham defender but again the decision went against the visitors.
On 12 minutes the home side had their first bit of joy coming forward when another ex-Red in David Cotterill slid a perfect cross over hard and low to the far post where Clayton Donaldson couldn’t miss, but Adam Davies made a spectacular save to keep the scores level.
Just three minutes later and the Reds had their own great chance to grab the lead when Kent hit a first-time effort towards the bottom corner only to see Blues stopper Tomasz Kuszczak brilliantly turn it around the post.
With a quarter of the game played we saw the first booking, Morsy entering the referee’s notepad for what Mr Coote adjudged to have been a dangerous lunge on Maikel Kieftenbeld.
Barnsley were still in the ascendancy and forced a couple of corners that came to nothing before Birmingham saw one of their players booked when Josh Dacres-Cogley tripped Kent just outside the box.
He was followed into the box soon after when the busy David Davis upended a surging midfield run by Morsy and the hosts were made to pay for that when the Skipper stepped up…
It was the 38th minute and Hourihane’s delicious free-kick was nodded home by Roberts to give the Reds a deserved lead!
Just before the break, Birmingham had a huge opportunity to level up when Donaldson slipped Davis into the box, he beat the back-tracking Josh Scowen but saw his shot cannon off the inside of the post and away to safety.
HALF TIME: Birmingham 0-1 Reds
There were no changes at the break and there was no change in the game’s flow either as the Reds were still in charge doing most of the attacking. A couple of Hourihane free-kicks were dealt with well at the back before the Skipper blazed a free-kick well over the crossbar following a foul on Winnall just outside the box.
On 56 minutes Bradshaw was denied by a wonderful save; the Reds striker firing towards the top corner but Kuszczak repelled it with aplomb.
That signalled a change by home boss Gary Rowett as he sent on Che Adams and Greg Stewart in place of Lukas Jutkiewicz and Kieftenbeld.
The match quietened down a little around the hour mark until another tough Davis tackle was punished by the referee. With 70 minutes played Mr Coote sent off the Blues midfielder for a second bookable offence, a dangerous tackle on Reds youngster James Bree.
Rowett immediately sent on Reece Brown in place of the tired Cotterill.
The Reds made the result secure when on 84 minutes Super Sammy Winnall made it 2-0. A corner from that man Hourihane was whipped in with pace and Winnall’s header was a bullet, it flew into the net as the ‘keeper could only stand and watch.
Ryan Williams came on for Kent as the hosts restarted.
And with just three minutes left of normal time, Winnall again rose like a salmon to power home yet another Hourihane set-piece from the left-hand side to confirm a truly stunning victory for Hecky’s lads at 3-0.
There was still time for Saidy Janko and Adam Hammill to make their appearances, replacing Morsy and Winnall who like the rest of the players involved had run themselves into the ground for the Barnsley cause!
FULL-TIME: Birmingham 0-3 Reds
Davies; Bree, Roberts, MacDonald, Yiadom; Scowen, Morsy (Hammill 89), Hourihane, Kent (Williams 85); Winnall (Janko 89), Bradshaw.
Unused: Townsend, Evans, Kpekawa, Armstrong.
Attendance: 17,072 (1,039 Reds)