The Reds were edged out by Derby County this afternoon, despite a spirited performance.
In a game of two halves, it was the hosts who left Pride Park with all three points thanks to a better opening 45.
It ended up being a case of 'what might have been?' as Michael Duff's side fell to a 2-1 defeat on a scorching August afternoon.
Recalled to the starting XI, James Norwood nearly gave the Reds the lead within the opening minute, after a fine team move allowed the striker to receive the ball inside the area, but his fierce shot was deflected out for a corner.
It was Derby who took the lead, however, on eight minutes, after an in-swinging corner delivery from ex-Red Conor Hourihane wasn’t dealt with and the ball dropped in off the unlucky Conor McCarthy in the six-yard-box.
The temperatures at Pride Park meant a water break was required, and the Reds were the team on top going into the halt in proceedings. Josh Benson picked the pocket of a Derby defender high up the pitch in the 20th minute, squared to Norwood, but Joe Wildsmith in the Rams goal smothered any attempt on goal.
The home side soon punished the Reds in the 35th minute, after a loose pass was intercepted in midfield and distributed to Tom Barkhuizen on the left-hand side. The former Preston North End man cut the ball back to Mendez-Laing, who took a touch and fired the ball home from just inside the area, giving Brad Collins no chance.
HALF-TIME: Derby County 2-0 Barnsley
The second half saw a much more impressive Reds display.
Luke Thomas was caught with a late challenge by Eiran Cashin 30 yards out, allowing Josh Benson to swing the ball in from a set piece. The free-kick found Norwood who had cleverly peeled off his man at the back stick, he nodded back across goal towards the on-rushing Jack Aitchison, but the Scot could only side-foot over the bar from close range.
Benson - dominating the centre of the pitch now - won the ball back on the right-hand side, and a neat touch inside from Thomas allowed the midfielder to roll the ball square back to Josh, and the 22-year-old let one fly with his left peg, and via a deflection, beat Wildsmith in the Rams goal and helped get the Reds back in the game after 64 minutes.
After the second-half cooling break, it was wave after wave of Barnsley attacks. The Reds wrestled control of the affair and had worked a flurry of half-chances. Sub Devante Cole was twice unlucky with efforts from inside the box, whilst fellow second half change Aiden Marsh then dribbled his way into a shooting position but was blocked as he pulled the trigger.
The Reds continued to push in the final 15 minutes and Mads Andersen met a Benson corner ever so well in the dying stages, but his header dropped a foot wide of the post, and it was Derby's day at Pride Park.
FULL-TIME: Derby County 2-1 Reds
Collins (GK), Williams, McCarthy (Cundy), Andersen (C), Kitching, Styles, J Benson, Connell (Oduor), Thomas, Aitchison (Marsh), Norwood (Cole).
Unused: Walton (GK), Hondermarck, Wolfe.