Barnsley fell to a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers in the Sky Bet Championship on Wednesday evening.
Goals from Joe Rothwell and Ben Brereton Diaz either side of Carlton Morris’ equaliser were enough to settle the encounter at Ewood Park.
It took a while for the game to spark into life, with the first real shot in anger coming from Callum Styles, who tested Thomas Kaminski with a long-range drive that the Rovers stopper parried to safety.
Shortly after, the hosts nearly made the breakthrough themselves as former Reds loanee Rothwell skipped beyond a couple of challenges before cracking the woodwork with a low strike.
Chances were starting to fall for Blackburn and midway through the first half, John Buckley drove forward and fired an effort narrowly wide of the post.
However, when the Reds squandered possession deep in their own half, the division’s form side punished us to devastating effect as Rothwell was able to slot home from inside the area.
Rovers continued to create openings, the next falling to Ryan Nyambe, who cut in on his left foot and curled a shot wide of the upright.
Only a magnificent piece of defending from Styles prevented Blackburn from extending their lead 10 minutes before the interval as he made a last-ditch challenge to thwart Brereton Diaz, who had the goal at his mercy six yards out.
With the final attack of the half, though, Barnsley pulled level as Carlton Morris’ attempt ricocheted off a defender, off the post and rolled across the line before sneaking into the net. So bizarre was the goal that the travelling Reds supporters at the other end didn’t realise it had gone in for a good five seconds prior to celebrating.
HALF-TIME: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Barnsley
In a frantic opening to the second half, Michał Helik was next to deny Brereton Diaz with an outstretched leg before Buckley hammered a strike from distance straight down the throat of Brad Collins.
Just after the hour mark, our Polish centre-back was forced off through injury and Jasper Moon entered the fray for his first appearance since 24 November.
As the Reds looked to break away, Rovers stole possession in the centre circle and surged forward, with Brereton Diaz driving into the area and drilling into the bottom corner to restore their lead.
With 20 minutes or so remaining, Victor Adeboyejo and Devante Cole were introduced to add more firepower to our attack as we looked to salvage something from the encounter.
However, it was the hosts who looked more likely to find the next goal as Brereton Diaz tested Collins with a thunderous drive in injury time.
The Chilean forward had another gaping opportunity moments later but could only blaze high and wide when it appeared easier to score.
There was one last chance for Barnsley as the ever-dangerous Styles raced clear and found Morris; his shot was blocked by a Blackburn defender and the rebound fell to Styles, who curled narrowly over as we slumped to defeat in our final outing of 2021.
FULL-TIME: Blackburn Rovers 2-1 Barnsley
REDS XI: Collins (GK), Brittain, Helik (Moon, 61), Andersen (C), Kitching, Oduor (Adeboyejo, 71), Benson, Palmer, Morris, Styles, Leya Iseka (Cole, 71).
Not used: Walton, J Williams, Vita, Gomes.
ROVERS XI: Kaminski (GK), Nyambe, Pickering, Khadra (Gallagher, 64), Rothwell (Dolan, 85), Wharton, Buckley (Edun, 85), Brereton Diaz, Van Hecke, Lenihan (C), Travis.
Not used: Pears (GK), Johnson, Ayala, Clarkson.