Barnsley were beaten in gutting circumstances as Callum Paterson’s late close-range winner separated them from Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City side at Oakwell on Tuesday evening.
The scrappy goal replicated a similar home encounter against Hull City, with the away side nabbing a solitary strike to break Red hearts.
The Reds had chances themselves in another match of very fine margins, which on another day could well have been won.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side returned to Oakwell having lost just one of their last eight league clashes, and Hecky was again bold in his selection choice for the game, making five changes from the weekend’s 1-1 draw at Norwich City.
Goalscorer Harvey Barnes was a notable absence, with recent signing Gary Gardner entering the fray and Mamadou Thiam given a starting berth up top.
Warnock’s Bluebirds arrived in South Yorkshire in a similarly positive vein of form, having dispatched Brentford 2-0 last weekend. Warnock made two alterations to his line-up, with Aron Gunnarsson and Paterson given starts.
The game began in a cagy manner, with no clear-cut chances falling in the first quarter. Thiam had the pick of the attempts early on, cutting in from the right flank and firing a low deflected shot which was kept out by Neil Etheridge.
Adam Davies was called into his first major action soon after, stretching well behind him to intercept a threatening ball in from Cardiff’s Joe Bennett.
Thiam went closer for the Reds when good work down the right allowed Brad Potts room to cross, finding the Senegalese striker whose bullet header diverted just wide.
The first half saw a handful of nice bursts forward from Adam Hammill, and he struck just wide 25 yards out shortly before half-time, after crafting a neat solo effort down the left.
Despite the efforts of the visitors on the counter, the Reds were resolute throughout the first half as the scoreline remained goalless at the break.
HALF TIME: Barnsley 0-0 Cardiff
The second half immediately started more openly, with both sides managing shots on target within five minutes of the restart. Potts worked a good opportunity outside the area, forcing Etheridge into a low stop.
Bruno Ecuele Manga’s smart tackle on the halfway line allowed Junior Hoilett to test Davies with a placed effort, and Craig Bryson tried his luck from 20 yards only to see his attempt off balance drift wide.
The Reds suffered a scare just after the hour mark with Hoilett closing down a clearance in a dangerous area, the ball fortunately ricocheting off target to spare the blushes.
The introduction of Barnes alongside Tom Bradshaw soon took place, and the in-form Leicester loanee needed no introduction, leaving defenders in his tracks out wide and almost creating chances for the incoming attackers.
Cameron McGeehan was replaced by George Moncur in Hecky’s final change, but not before the Reds’ number eight curled a threatening free-kick narrowly over the top from the right-hand side.
Barnsley continued to look the most likely to break the deadlock late on in a somewhat even affair, Hammill again working space outside the area and lashing agonisingly wide.
Warnock’s men would respond with breaks of their own, Hoilett still at the forefront of their attacking efforts with a deflected drive looping onto the roof of Davies’ net.
As it was, it turned out to be from the resulting set piece that the South Wales side forced the sucker-punch with seven minutes left on the clock.
An in-swinging corner found Sol Bamba whose shot was stopped on the line, but in the Reds’ endeavours to clear, Paterson threw himself in front of the ball to divert it into the net, a bitter pill to swallow.
Cardiff tried to counter wherever possible, but were kept out by an otherwise sturdy Barnsley back line.
Despite forcing several corners in added time, it was not to be for the hosts who must now dust themselves off for a Yorkshire derby with Leeds United on Saturday lunchtime.
FULL TIME: Barnsley 0-1 Cardiff
Reds: Davies ©, Yiadom, Lindsay, Pearson, Fryers, Gardner, McGeehan (Moncur 74), Potts, Hammill, Hedges (Barnes 64), Thiam (Bradshaw 64)
Subs not used: Walton, McCarthy, Bird, Moncur, Ugbo
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Ralls, Bamba, Hoilett, Manga, Ward (Gounongbe 83), Bennett, Paterson, Gunnarsson (Damour 74), Bryson, Morrison ©
Subs not used: Murphy, Feltscher, Peltier, Feeney, Tomlin