Barnsley suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Sky Bet Championship high-fliers Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.
Philip Billing’s early header was all that separated the two sides in a game where the Reds battled hard and showed plenty of character, but were unable to find a way past an inspired Mark Travers in the Cherries goal.
After a sustained period of pressure in the opening stages from Bournemouth, it eventually told with 11 minutes gone as Billing rose highest to head home from close range after being picked out by Dominic Solanke.
Such was the visitors’ dominance, it took a fine piece of defending from Jasper Moon to prevent Solanke from doubling their lead with an effort from six-yards to deny the Cherries frontman.
Scotland international Ryan Christie then tried his luck from distance with a blistering strike that almost squirmed through Brad Collins’ hands, but the Reds stopper managed to gather it at the second attempt.
Our first real shot in anger came midway through the half when Aaron Leya Iseka burst down the left flank and unleashed a fierce drive that Travers palmed away before a flurry of crosses came to nothing.
Just on the stroke of half-time, the Reds had a glorious opportunity to level proceedings when Romal Palmer fired a fine ball across the box that Callum Styles prodded towards goal. His effort was blocked, as was Devante Cole’s follow-up as we ended the half brightly.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0-1 Bournemouth
A well-worked free-kick routine shortly after the interval almost saw Barnsley draw level through Cole, but Travers was equal to his effort with a fine save to his right to maintain Bournemouth’s slender lead.
Moments later at the other end, Collins had to be at his best to deny Jefferson Lerma, who sneaked in unmarked to plant a free header towards the far post.
The Reds continued to create chances of their own and, following intricate work between Styles and Leya Iseka, the former forced Travers into another good stop as he flung himself to his left to claw out a well-struck low drive.
Aiden Marsh, fresh off the bench for his senior debut, almost scored with his first touch in a red shirt as he powered a splendid half-volley from 25-yards that, once more, Travers palmed away.
As time ticked away, Barnsley carved out openings and an acrobatic attempt from Styles threatened to force a late leveller, but unfortunately, it fell kindly for the Cherries keeper.
When Cole capitalised on a loose pass from midfield, our forward was hacked down by former England international Gary Cahill, who was given his marching orders by referee Andre Marriner after picking up a second, cynical booking.
Despite the numerical advantage in the closing stages, the Reds were unable to make it count and succumbed to fourth consecutive league defeat.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 0-1 Bournemouth
REDS XI: Collins (GK), Moon, Helik, Andersen (C), J Williams, Wolfe (Marsh, 78), Styles, Vita, Palmer (Benson, 68), Cole, Leya Iseka.
Not used: Walton (GK), Sraha, Hondermarck, Bremang, Thompson.
CHERRIES XI: Travers (GK), Kelly (C), Lerma, Solanke, Christie (Hill, 88), Stacey, Pearson, Cahill, Billing, Anthony (Lowe, 83), Zemura.
Not used: Dennis (GK), Marcondes, Davis, Kilkenny, Moriah-Welsh.