Nick Powell’s 12 minute treble helps relegation threatened Wigan stun the Reds.
Wigan Athletic fought back from 2-0 down to edge out Barnsley 3-2 at the DW Stadium.
In a first half void of chances, the Reds took the lead on the stroke of half time when Ryan Kent’s vicious shot cannoned off the post and straight to Adam Armstrong, who did not think twice about firing home from six yards.
Barnsley doubled their advantage just before the hour mark when Tom Bradshaw fed Kent, who left Stephen Warnock chasing his shadow before sending a rasping drive flying into the bottom corner.
But two goals in a minute from Wigan substitute Nick Powell turned the game on its head. First, he hammered in a free kick from the edge of the area and then tapped home from close range after Adam Davies had spilled Ryan Colclough’s shot.
Powell completed his hat trick from the penalty spot after Marc Roberts was judged to have brought down the midfielder, allowing him to lash home from 12 yards.
Matty James thought he had grabbed a leveller two minutes from time when he volleyed in after Jakob Haugaard had missed the chance to gather a Roberts long throw, but the effort was ruled out for a foul.
Smart play between Marley Watkins and Tom Bradshaw allowed the latter to slide in Adam Armstrong for the Reds’ first opening, only for Shaun MacDonald to block the striker’s shot at the vital moment.
Wigan’s reply didn’t come until midway through the half when Gabriel Obertan pulled a shot well wide of the target from the edge of the area, following good approach play from Sam Morsy.
Tricky wing play from Ryan Kent opened up a crossing opportunity. The winger’s delivery was drilled across goal and was just too far in-front of Tom Bradshaw on the stretch.
Obertan should have punished a lapse in concentration for the Reds as Angus MacDonald and Saidy Janko failed to halt Michael Jacobs’ run. He squared for the Frenchman, who sliced wide under pressure from Marc Roberts.
Adam Davies made his first save of the evening nine minutes before the break, getting down smartly to deny Morsy’s drilled effort from the middle of the penalty area.
With chances at a premium, the Reds managed to make the breakthrough just before the interval, but there was a touch of luck about it.
Kent surged clear down the right, jinked his way into a shooting position and lashed a shot at goal, which cannoned back into play off the post.
On hand to gobble up the rebound was Armstrong, who shifted his body weight brilliantly to slide the ball into an unguarded goal.
HALF TIME: Wigan Athletic 0-1 Barnsley.
Two yellow cards early in the second half for Marley Watkins and Saidy Janko showed that the Latics were not going to relinquish their attacking spirit and the hosts continued to press for an equaliser.
However, this left gaps in their defence and the Reds were all too keen to exploit them just before the hour when they doubled their lead.
A quick counter attack led by Tom Bradshaw saw the striker slip in Kent, who showed quick feet to shift away from Stephen Warnock and blast home on his left foot, despite the best efforts of Jakob Haugaard.
Wigan substitute Nick Powell almost reduced the deficit less than a minute after coming on, taking aim from 25 yards, with his deflected effort sending Davies scrambling across his goal to palm it behind smartly.
But two goals in the space of a minute from Powell levelled up the contest. The midfielder’s vicious free kick from the edge of the area dipped away from Davies and flew into the bottom corner, despite the Welshman’s best efforts.
Moments later the hosts were level as Davies failed to gather Ryan Colclough’s powerful effort and Powell was in hand again to slot home the rebound.
Max Power struck the crossbar seconds after as the hosts started to gather some momentum and took the lead from the penalty spot after Powell was upended by Roberts.
Powell dusted himself down and fired high into the roof of the net to switch the momentum of the entire game.
Two minutes from time, Matty James thought he had bagged the equaliser when he volleyed into an unguarded goal after Haugaard flapped at a Roberts long throw, but a free kick to the Latics was awarded.
Attendance: 10,838 (1,183 away).
Wigan Athletic: Haugaard (GK), Connolly (J. Byrne, 54’ ), Burn, Buxton, Warnock (c), Hanson, MacDonald, Power, Morsy (Colclough, 46’ ), Jacobs, Obertan (Powell, 66’ ).
Subs: Gilks (GK), Perkins, Morgan, Mandron.
Reds: Davies (GK), Janko, Roberts (c), MacDonald, Jones, Watkins, Moncur, James, Kent, Bradshaw, Armstrong (Scowen, 80' ).
Subs: Townsend (GK), Lee, Evans, Mowatt, Williams, Hedges.