The Reds' return to the Sky Bet Championship kicked off in impressive fashion, as they beat one of the early favourites Fulham 1-0 at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
Head Coach, Daniel Stendel handed competitive debuts to six of his nine new signings, as goalkeeper Sami Radlinger, defenders Bambo Diaby, Mads Anderson and Toby Sibbick started, alongside midfielder Luke Thomas and forward Malik Wilks.
It was a debut to remember for Thomas, who put Barnsley in the lead with just over ten minutes on the clock; a goal which proved to be the decisive moment in the match.
However, it was the visitors looked threatening in the opening exchanges, as Aboubakar Kamara, found space down the right flank. He then pulled the ball square for Aleksandar Mitrovic on the edge of the area, whose side-footed effort was blazed well over the crossbar.
Fulham’s new addition, Ivan Cavaleiro then found himself in a good position after a through ball by captain Tom Cairney picked him out on the run inside the area. However, the attacker’s curling effort left Radlinger untroubled.
With just over ten minutes played, Wilks gathered possession in the centre of midfield, before he drove towards the edge of the box and unleashed a venomous shot, which narrowly missed the target and had Marcus Bettinelli scrambling.
Just moments later, the Reds did capitalise on their early pressure, as Thomas slotted the ball underneath Bettinelli from a tight angle. Newly appointed club captain Mike Bähre did well to find him down the right, before the tricky winger did the rest, as he charged into the Fulham penalty area and put the ball into the back of the net to give the Reds an early lead.
Wilks came close again with 25 minutes gone, before Cauley Woodrow fired just over the bar three minutes later.
As the game ticked towards half-time, Fulham almost equalised when Denis Odoi got on the end of a Cavaleiro free-kick, but his header skimmed over the top of the crossbar.
However, it was the Reds who looked the more dangerous of the two sides in attack, and should have doubled their advantage going into the break when Wilks passed to Bähre in the area, but pressure from the behind, denied the attacker the chance to get a clear shot away.
HALF-TIME: BARNSLEY 1-0 FULHAM
As the match restarted for the second half, Alex Mowatt saw his long-range effort fly over the bar, before Wilks’ had a shot from a narrow angle which was closed down and saved by the feet of Bettinelli.
Former Red Alfie Mawson then came close for Fulham with a header from a wide free-kick on the right, before Stefan Johansen lined up a first time shot from distance, which landed past the post.
Fantastic defending from Andersen on the hour mark denied Fulham the chance to level the score, as the big Danish centre back covered well to clear the ball off the line, after Cairney slotted past Radlinger.
Then, Barnsley almost scored a second when Diaby rose highest from a corner, but he saw his header drop wide of the target.
Thomas nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon in the 68th minute when he latched onto a brilliant forward pass by Bähre, but as he rounded Bettinelli, he fired his shot into the side netting.
Woodrow, against his former club, almost pulled off a spectacular finish, as he connected with into an overhead kick inside the area, but unfortunately for him, it landed straight into the hands Bettinelli.
Radlinger had to be alert to pull off a good save from substitute Anthony Knockaert, before Andersen again threw his body on the line to block an Ayite shot.
Goalscorer Thomas was substituted to a standing ovation and rightly so from the Oakwell crowd, as he was replaced by another debutant in Conor Chaplin in the 85th minute.
There were also late appearances for George Miller and Mama Thiam, giving the fans the opportunity to applaud the efforts of former Fulham man, Woodrow and the livewire debutant Mallik Wilks who was booked for taking his time when leaving to a standing ovation.
Kevin McDonald tried his luck for Fulham in a late speculative effort, but Radlinger held on and the Reds held out for an impressive victory at Oakwell.
FULL-TIME: BARNSLEY 1-0 FULHAM
Reds: Radlinger, Diaby, Andersen, McGeehan, Woodrow (Miller, 90), Bähre (C), Cavaré, Thomas (Chaplin, 85), Sibbick, Mowatt, Wilks (Thiam, 90+3).
Substitutes not used: Collins, Williams, Styles, Halme.
Fulham: Bettinelli, Odoi, Mawson, McDonald, Johansen (Knockaert, 65), Mitrovic, Cairney (C), Cavaleiro (Ayite, 74), Le Marchand (Christie, 32), Bryan, Kamara.
Substitutes not used: Rodak, Kebano, Fonte, De La Torre.