Carlton Morris’ early goal was enough to secure three more crucial points as Barnsley beat Rotherham United 1-0 at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t one of the more glamorous encounters, but victory sees the Reds climb above Swansea City and into fifth place in the Sky Bet Championship.
Barnsley came flying out of the blocks and when Cauley Woodrow’s effort was tipped over by Viktor Johansson, the deadlock was broken from the resulting corner.
A well-worked set-piece routine was swung to the far post where Michał Helik headed it back across goal for Morris to power over the line, colliding with the Millers’ Swedish goalkeeper in the process, who was subsequently substituted.
The visitors looked to muster a response and had a glimpse of goal through Chiedozie Ogbene’s effort from distance that stung the palms of Brad Collins with 20 minutes on the clock.
Freddie Ladapo then sprung the offside trap and fired a low ball across the face of goal that fell to Michael Smith, but his shot was blocked by Callum Brittain.
Shortly after, Rotherham skipper Richard Wood found himself in an advanced position but, like Smith before him, saw his attempt deflect and spiral into the hands of Collins.
United came forward once more, late in the half and Collins had to be at his best to thwart Ladapo with a sprawling save from close range.
With time ticking away, Woodrow did brilliantly to keep the ball in play and when Daryl Dike’s cross was only half-cleared, Brittain unleashed a thunderous drive from 25-yards that whistled narrowly over.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Rotherham United
Collins produced more heroics in the opening minutes of the second half when Ogbene raced through on goal, only to be denied by an inspired Reds ‘keeper.
Moments later, Ladapo somehow contrived to completely miss the ball from point blank range as Rotherham probed for an equaliser.
Although the Reds struggled to create goalscoring opportunities, the work rate, desire and determination was still there against a Rotherham side scrapping tooth and nail for their Championship survival.
Barnsley’s best chance of the half came when Dike muscled his way past into the area, but his effort was deflected behind by a scrambling defender.
The visitors continued to search for a way through and Smith came agonisingly close when he headed just wide of the far post with nine minutes remaining.
But the hero of the afternoon, undoubtedly, was Collins, who thwarted Ogbene from close range once more before Jordan Williams hacked clear.
Despite Rotherham laying siege deep into stoppage time, the Reds were able to hold on and take a huge step closer to securing a place in the play-offs.
REDS XI: Collins (GK), Sollbauer (Sibbick, 52), Helik, Andersen, Brittain, Halme, Mowatt (C), Styles (J Williams, 46), Woodrow, Dike, Morris (Adeboyejo, 90).
Not used: Walton (GK), Moon, Oduor, Palmer, Chaplin, Thompson.
MILLERS XI: Johansson (Blackman, 5) (GKs), S MacDonald (Wiles, 78), Wing, Wood (C) (Harding, 78), Ladapo (Hirst, 57), Ogbene, Lindsay (Jozefzoon, 78), Ihiekwe, A MacDonald, Smith, Giles.
Not used: Mattock, Sadlier, Clarke, Barlaser.