Troy Deeney’s first-half penalty was enough to condemn Barnsley to a frustrating defeat against Watford at a windswept Vicarage Road.
Following Callum Brittain’s handball just before the half-hour, Hornets skipper Deeney stepped up to power the spot kick past Jack Walton, who got a hand on the ball but was unable to keep it out.
The result will sting for the Reds, as for the second time in a row they fell to defeat in a game that they dominated for long spells.
Ultimately, however, the lack of any end product cost the visitors dear, as they were unable to convert any of the chances they fashioned.
Conor Chaplin was heavily involved in the Reds’ attack in the first period, firstly narrowly unable to connect with Victor Adeboyejo’s low ball, before he saw his own cross from the right headed over by Cauley Woodrow.
Despite the Reds’ dominance in the opening stages, taking the lead put a spring in the hosts’ step, but a shocking miss from Andre Gray meant they were unable to increase their lead.
On the stroke of half-time, the Hornets broke quickly down the right and Ismaila Sarr found Gray lurking in space ten yards out, but somehow Gray managed to spoon his shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
HALF-TIME: Watford 1-0 Barnsley
Valérien Ismaël attempted to give his charges fresh impetus early in the second half with the introduction of new man Carlton Morris, and the former Norwich forward almost offered an instant impact.
Morris teed up Woodrow for an attempt from the edge of the area, but the Reds’ number nine’s shot was deflected wide of the upright as the visitors pressed for an equaliser.
A leveller did almost arrive from the most unlikely of sources, as Hornets goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann was forced to stop Francisco Sierralta waywardly heading Alex Mowatt’s pinpoint cross into his own net.
Boss Ismaël continued to vocally lead the Reds’ effort from his technical area, but neither side was able to fashion any real chances as the game descended into a scrappy affair in the closing stages.
Despite the defeat, the Reds remain in the Championship’s top half, but will briefly take a breather from league action as they look to return to winning ways when they host Norwich in the FA Cup on Saturday.
FULL-TIME: Watford 1-0 Barnsley
Reds XI: Walton, Sollbauer, Andersen, Helik, Brittain, Mowatt, Palmer (Kane), Styles (Sibbick), Adeboyejo (Frieser), Woodrow, Chaplin (Morris).
Unused: Collins, Moon, Oduor, Omar, Schmidt.