DISAPPOINTED Reds boss Keith Hill admitted that his side’s deficiencies helped Premier League Swansea pick off the goals at Oakwell on Saturday.
Ricardo Vaz Te’s first of two goals fired the Reds in front just before the half-hour mark, but the Swans swiftly hit back to level and went on to score three more in the second half as they marched convincingly into round four.
Starkly summing up his team’s efforts, Hill said: “It was average, it was okay today, but okay in football gets you the sack.
“We played against superb opposition, though, educated opposition, and we knew we’d have to try and lock doors.
“We did that in the first half, but once you open the game up against that kind of opposition they can just pick you to pieces.
“They didn’t do that so much in the first half, but they did in the second.
“We also conceded goals at the wrong times. We certainly shouldn’t be conceding as quick as we did after the first goal.
“The timing of some of the goals definitely hurt us – we simply shouldn’t be giving good teams like Swansea chances to run at us like that at certain stages of the game.”
Both team managers were clearly taking Saturday’s cup clash very seriously as Hill and Brendan Rodgers made minimal changes to their starting line-ups.
For the Reds there was just the single change from the side that started at Doncaster, with Danny Drinkwater coming straight back into the midfield having sealed his loan deal to the end of the season just the other day.
Scott Wiseman dropped to a bench that also included teenagers Alastair Taylor and Paul Digby.
New Reds signing Chris Dagnall was cup-tied so wasn’t available.
For Swansea, keeper Gerhard Tremmel came in for his first start at Michel Vorm’s expense, while skipper Gary Monk replaced Steven Caulker at the back.
Since the Reds’ dream run to the semi-finals at Wembley back in 2008, the FA Cup hadn’t been kind.
The past three seasons had all seen exits at the third round, with the Oakwell faithful not even having a goal to cheer in their team’s last four FA Cup games.
As for Swansea, 24 places above their hosts in the league ladder, they went into the game on a high having secured their first Premier League away win of the season at Aston Villa.
It was a dour opening spell and despite some controlled and crisp passing and moving, chances were at a premium as the fans encountered little to set their pulses racing.
The Swans’ Kemy Agustien tested Luke Steele with a smartly-struck drive, then the Reds hit back with Jay McEveley finding space in the box before smashing wildly over.
The game sprung to life with two goals inside a minute just before the half-hour mark.
And it was the Reds who struck first when Vaz Te hammered home a great shot which beat Tremmel from 20 yards.
The Swans sprung into action themselves, though, and replied after barely 60 seconds with a high-quality equaliser.
The tricky Nathan Dyer squeezed a pass through to full-back Angel Rangel and he couldn’t miss from ten yards.
Dyer almost scored himself minutes later, but a rapid start to the second half pretty much won the game for Swansea.
Straight after the restart Danny Graham showed his class as he rifled home into the top corner of Steele’s net from all of 30 yards, then nine minutes later the visitors’ passage into the next round was all but sealed when they made it 3-1.
This time Dyer tucked home tidily from close range from Wayne Routledge’s low cross from the left.
It looked all over for Barnsley but, credit to the hosts, they didn’t give up and Vaz Te pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when he met a far-post free-kick from Drinkwater.
Sub Reuben Noble-Lazarus looked lively once again and went close with a volley, but Swansea always looked capable of stinging the hosts on the break and they did just that in the 89th minute.
Graham was to have the last word as he slotted home another Routledge cross.
Swans assistant manager Colin Pascoe did have some words of praise for the Reds, however.
He said: “That was a tough game for us. Barnsley caused us lots of problems.”