IT proved to be a day for milestones in the searing heat at Oakwell on Saturday.
Talismanic striker Andy Gray bagged both goals to see off a disappointing Coventry outfit – his 100th and 101st senior strikes – while the Reds’ first home win of the season was boss Keith Hill’s 100th as a manager.
No wonder Hill was both relieved and clearly delighted after the match.
He said: “That was a 100 per cent deserved victory for us.
“Given recent performances I knew the win here would come eventually, and the players have retained the belief too.
“To go seven unbeaten in the Championship is really pleasing for me, but after this win there was a huge sigh of relief. It offers us a kind of bubble to go in and enjoy before our next game at Portsmouth in a couple of weeks time.
“The players are buying into what I’m asking them to do here and I’m really pleased with that.
“I’ve said it before but there is definitely progress here. Again it’s been proved that my methods can work.”
Despite losing a couple more players to injuries at Derby during the week, only David Perkins failed to make it into Hill’s starting XI on Saturday.
The tenacious midfielder limped off early at Pride Park with a hamstring strain, so his place went to Nathan Doyle, who himself came in from the cold.
There were a couple of alterations on the Reds’ bench as loan man Cameron Park returned, as did holding midfielder Miles Addison from injury.
Andy Thorn’s stuttering Sky Blues featured an adventurous 4-4-2 line-up as they were looking for their first away victory of the season.
The first clear-cut chance went Coventry’s way after just seven minutes.
Gary McSheffrey played Rory O’Donovan in, and after rounding keeper Luke Steele, thankfully he had run a little too wide and he could only guide an effort into the side-netting.
That was probably Coventry’s best chance of the whole game.
Almost immediately Barnsley responded as they went on to dominate the remainder of the first half.
Ricardo Vaz Te – on his full home debut – headed inches wide after diving to meet Jacob Butterfield’s deep cross, before the Portuguese front-man saw a rasping shot only saved at the second attempt by City keeper Joe Murphy.
The Reds were definitely in the ascendancy when they were to take the lead thanks to a hotly-disputed penalty kick just four minutes before the break.
After the impressive Jim O’Brien tried to get by Chris Hussey, the unfortunate left-back appeared to handle as both fell to the ground, and the assistant referee on the far side immediately gave the signal that a penalty was to be the outcome.
After protestations, which earned Hussey himself a yellow card, Gray stepped up and calmly slotted his kick past Murphy to hand his side a deserved lead at the break.
The Reds then came out with all guns blazing from the restart, with loan star Danny Drinkwater forcing Murphy into a flying save and then Vaz Te hammering in a shot which the Sky Blues’ stopper could only handle at the second attempt.
A second goal was on the cards at this stage, and it duly arrived in the 55th minute.
It was a superbly-worked effort too. Doyle played a pass out wide to the lightning O’Brien, he crossed in low and there was Gray who slid in joyously to beat Murphy from close range.
Coventry almost hit back straight away with the energetic Steele forced to superbly tip away a looping header from defender Nathan Cameron, but after that it was Barnsley all the way.
O’Brien tested Murphy with an arrowing drive from the acutest of angles, while skipper Butterfield saw a shot deflected just over the top by Cameron’s outstretched leg.
The Reds saw the game out with no further scares and the roar was deafening at full-time as the Oakwell faithful were finally rewarded with a victory that had seemed to be so long in coming.
Sky Blues’ boss Thorn all but admitted his side had been beaten fair and square on the day.
He said: “They played well, there’s no mistake about that, but again we were disappointing and we’ve paid the price for another ineffective performance.
“It was probably our worst display of the season, but we’ve just got to try and get over it as quickly as possible and at least we’ve got the international break in which to help us do that.”
15.10.11 Portsmouth (A)
18.10.11 Burnley (H)
22.10.11 Cardiff City (A)
29.10.11 Bristol City (H)