Barnsley tightened their grip on a play-off spot with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
Second half goals from Alex Mowatt and Daryl Dike were enough to seal all three points as the Reds moved five points clear of seventh place Reading with five games remaining.
There was an early scare for Barnsley when Duncan Watmore latched onto Toby Sibbick’s header back to Brad Collins, but fortunately his effort was straight at the Reds’ keeper as both sides found their feet in the opening exchanges.
A succession of corners almost resulted in Barnsley making a breakthrough as Alex Mowatt’s inswinger caused chaos before Dominik Frieser saw his attempted blocked.
The skipper then tried his luck on the half-volley from 25-yards as both teams were restricted to limited clear cut scoring opportunities.
It was the Reds who looked more likely to make the breakthrough and Michał Helik was next to go close when his snapshot deflected off the legs of a defender and was gathered low down by Marcus Bettinelli.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0-0 Middlesbrough
Valérien Ismaël opted to bring on Carlton Morris at the interval, with Frieser making way as the Reds searched for a more physical presence up front.
The visitors looked lively after the restart and within ten minutes worked a fine opening when the ever-dangerous Watmore worked space inside the area and played a low ball across the box that no one could get on the end of.
Just after the hour mark, Barnsley went ahead as Mowatt’s inswinging corner beat everyone and nestled into the far corner.
It was an effort not too dissimilar to the one that was contentiously ruled out against Reading on Good Friday, but the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for March netted his eighth of a productive campaign.
Moments after being seemingly cleaned out by Bettinelli, Dike was in the wars once more as Mowatt’s devilish delivery from left flank flashed right across the face of goal with our on-loan American forward ending up in the net in a heap.
A second goal soon arrived and it was that man, Dike, who got it. Mowatt hit a volley from the edge of the box into the ground and Morris’ close-range header was parried by Bettinelli. The visitors only half-cleared the ball, straight to Callum Brittain who fired a magnificent cross onto the head of Dike to power home from four yards.
Dike drilled an effort wide of the near post as Barnsley looked to add gloss to an impressive scoreline, but the points were well and truly safe as the Reds stay fifth.
REDS XI: Collins (GK), Sibbick, Helik, Andersen, Brittain, Palmer (Halme, 57), Mowatt (c), Styles, Frieser (Morris, 46), Dike, Woodrow (Chaplin, 57).
Not used: Walton (GK), J Williams, Sollbauer, Moon, Oduor, Adeboyejo.
BORO XI: Bettinelli (GK), Fisher, Hall, McNair, Bola (Johnson, 80), Spence (Coulson, 80), Howson (c), Saville, Kebano (Bolasie, 69), Watmore (Assombalonga, 69), Akpom (Fletcher, 69).
Not used: Archer (GK).