Mark Robins enjoyed a sweet victory on his return to Oakwell, as his slowly-improving Scunthorpe side came from behind to inflict a second straight defeat on Barnsley.
Again inconsistency appears to be creeping into the stuttering Reds’ game.
Following an encouraging run of three straight victories, they have now slipped to back-to-back defeats and boss Danny Wilson clearly feels his defenders are the ones who are falling short at present.
It was slack defending that was to prove costly in this latest fixture as the Iron roared back from a goal behind to secure a victory which lifted to with goal difference of the Sky Bet League One safety mark.
As for the hosts, they dropped down to 15th place in the standings, with Wilson clearly in need of a tighter back-line as two tough potentially tricky fixtures beckon in Doncaster at home in the league tomorrow and then the FA Cup test against non-league Chester at the weekend.
Reflecting on this latest defeat after Paddy Madden had struck twice for the visitors, Wilson said: “I don’t want to be too critical, but we didn’t play anything like we know we can and that’s cost us dearly.
“The intensity wasn’t there, and the decision-making and timing was lacking.
“Any fluency and quickness in passing we’ve shown in recent weeks just wasn’t there in this game.
“I’m not sure of the reasons for that, but it certainly helped Scunthorpe to press us up the pitch and in doing so, they scored two goals against the run of play in my view.
“We just didn’t get a grip of the game.
“Conceding so quickly after we opened the scoring didn’t help, that was criminal.
“In terms of our defending, some of it was amateurish.
“The second goal was very disappointing. We can’t hide the fact that we have to defend massively better than that in that situation.
“It was a bit more nip and tuck in the second half and we threw everything at Scunthorpe, but we just didn’t convert the chances, much in the same way as we didn’t at Chesterfield in the previous game.
“We can’t lose heart, though.
“The defensive group are better than what we saw in this game and we do keep saying that in this league, there really is nothing between all the teams.
“It’s fine lines, but if you do defend like that you aren’t going to win many games.”
Despite the defeat at Chesterfield, Wilson made just the single change to his starting line-up as the Reds welcomed back former boss Robins.
Kane Hemmings was dropped to the bench, with loanee Marcello Trotta being favoured for an attacking midfield role.
Hemmings was to return to the action earlier than anticipated, with nine-goal striker Sam Winnall being forced off midway through the first period with what looked like a hamstring strain.
That was a big blow for the former Scunthorpe favourite, who had showed his clear threat in the early exchanges when he found space superbly before drilling a low shot narrowly wide.
Winnall then dived in bravely to try and meet a cross from Conor Hourihane, but he was inches short of getting a touch and the ball was cleared.
It was Fulham loanee Trotta who broke the deadlock after 29 minutes.
The Reds had been pressing hard and deservedly grabbed the opening goal.
Joe Dudgeon was neat in working a position down the left, before he pulled a cross back into the path of Trotta, who lashed home clinically to register his first Barnsley goal.
The home fans rejoiced, but not for long.
Less than 60 seconds they were silenced as Robins’ rejuvenated visitors struck back to swiftly level matters.
Gary McSheffrey fired in a shot which Ross Turnbull could only parry, and with the Reds’ defence too slow to react, Madden slammed home the rebound from close range.
How quickly a pendulum can swing.
From that point the Iron were in the ascendancy, and they fired themselves into a precious lead in first-half stoppage-time.
Liam O’Neil played a quick pass into the path of Madden, and as the Reds defence again were far too flat-footed, Madden charged through before burying a sweet drive past the stunned Turnbull.
It was a perfect time to score, and a potentially priceless lead that the Iron were to hold on to thanks to plenty of grit and determination in the second half.
The Reds pushed hard for an equaliser, but they just couldn’t find one.
Devante Cole played in Luke Berry who ought to have done better, while Cole himself was then brilliant in taking the ball down superbly before smashing a shot wastefully over the top.
The Reds had given it plenty during the second 45 minutes, but they still looked vulnerable at the back and Turnbull was forced into a smart save as Lyle Taylor threatened to make it 3-1 late on.
That would have been far too flattering a margin of victory for Scunthorpe, but the Reds must tighten up their back four before tomorrow’s crunch clash against Rovers.