Barnsley recorded back-to-back victories as they narrowly edged out Watford at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Mowatt’s thunderous drive proved to be the difference between the two sides in a game of few chances as Valérien Ismaël continued his fine start to life in South Yorkshire.
The Reds made two changes from the midweek victory over Queens Park Rangers, with Patrick Schmidt coming in for the injured Cauley Woodrow and Matty James replacing Clarke Oduor.
Barnsley made the perfect start when Alex Mowatt intercepted a loose pass in the centre circle, drove at the visiting backline and crashed an unbelievable strike into Ben Foster’s top corner that clipped the inside of the post on the way in with just over five minutes played.
After weathering a Watford storm, the Reds pieced together a fine move as Mowatt fired a lovely cross-field ball to Conor Chaplin, who found Dominik Frieser on the edge of the box with a first-time cushioned lay-off, but the Austrian blazed over.
Another slick passing move on the right flank saw Chaplin release Callum Brittain with a neat flick. The full-back burst clear of his man and pulled the ball back to Chaplin, who had continued his run, but Foster was able to gather his low shot down to his left.
The Hornets rallied before the interval, but were unable to find a way through the spirited Reds backline as the hosts went in ahead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Watford
Watford looked much brighter after the restart and had a glorious opportunity to level just before the hour mark. Ismaïla Sarr raced away from substitute Oduor and fired a terrific low ball across the box, but Tom Cleverley somehow blazed wide unmarked from six-yards out.
Moments later, Ben Wilmot headed narrowly over the bar from a corner as the visitors continued to probe.
However, Barnsley still had their chances and George Miller, introduced from the bench, latched onto a wayward header but could only skew his half-volley wide of the far post.
Midway through the second half, Wilmot came agonisingly close to an equaliser for Vladimir Ivić’s side, but his downward header bounced up and over Jack Walton’s goal, much to the relief of the home dugout.
Watford threw caution to the wind and introduced Andre Gray and Will Hughes as they searched for a late leveller, but to no avail as the Reds held on for a superb victory.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Watford
Walton, Sollbauer, Helik, Andersen, Brittain (Oduor), James (Kane), Mowatt (c), Styles, Frieser, Schmidt (Miller), Chaplin.
Unused: Collins, Halme, Thomas, Simoes.