BARNSLEY’S post-Keith Hill era began with a third straight Championship defeat, but the gutsy Reds were unlucky as Peterborough skipper Tommy Rowe struck a late winner, writes Neil Goulding.
Caretaker boss Dave Flitcroft took charge - assisted on the touchline by former Fleetwood Town boss Mickey Mellon - and sub Marlon Harewood had looked as though he’d bagged a deserved equaliser with 11 minutes left.
However, Rowe pounced in the 87th minute to steer his side four points off rock-bottom Barnsley who have now recorded just one win in their last 15 games.
Flitcroft’s team selection featured four changes from the line-up which started Hill’s final game.
Defenders Stephen Foster and Scott Wiseman were dropped, as was midfielder Matt Done, while loan front-man Marcus Tudgay has returned to Nottingham Forest.
Back came teenager John Stones, Tom Kennedy, midfielder Martin Cranie and up front, Chris Dagnall who was in to support to leading scorer Craig Davies.
The game began encouragingly as the Reds enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening 20 minutes, but it went downhill from there and by half-time they were a goal behind and distinctly second best.
After Luke Steele had been called upon to beat away an early effort from Posh striker Dwight Gayle, the Reds’ best chance of the half came in the 21st minute when Scott Golbourne crossed in for Davies and his shot was tipped over the crossbar by Robert Olejnik.
The hosts broke the deadlock after 28 minutes courtesy of a simply-worked setpiece. Taking a free-kick outside the Reds’ box, Lee Tomlin played it short to full-back Michael Bostwick and he drilled a low shot through a sea of bodies and in at the corner.
Joe Newell saw a shot palmed away by Steele, before the same player screamed at referee Drysdale for a penalty after being thwarted by a last-ditch Stephen Dawson tackle just as it looked as though he was about to run through and score.
Steele was again the Reds’ hero in the 38th minute when it took him two attempts to save a blistering strike from Tomlin.
The Reds emerged for the second period with renewed impetus. The visitors got back to their crisp passing game and one of those from Jim McNulty found Dagnall.
The former Scunthorpe man’s well-struck shot was deflected wide. A chance to level then went begging in the 51st minute when Davies sprung to meet a cross from Stones but his header was blocked almost on the line by Gabriel Zakuani.
It was rapidly turning into the Dagnall show and on the hour mark the diminutive front-man was thwarted by the woodwork. Latching on to a pass from Davies on the right-hand corner of the Peterborough box, Dagnall lifted a lobbed effort over Olejnik, only for the ball to strike the outside of the post.
Sub Harewood - on for the confidence-sapped Davies - went close when his shot was saved by Olejnik, while Dawson crashed in a super effort from 25 yards.
Just when it was looking as though the Reds were about to fail to add to their meagre tally of just 25 goals so far this season, they struck a well-deserved leveller with just 11 minutes to go. Harewood pounced with a crisp finish from the edge of the box after referee Mr Drysdale seemingly over-ruled an offside decision from one of his assistants.
However, Flitcroft’s men couldn’t hang on as Rowe lashed past Steele from 14 yards, leaving Reds chiefs to continue their search for a new manager with current Brentford chief Uwe Rosler the hot favourite.
Peterborough [4-4-2]: Olejnik 8; Bostwick 7, Ferdinand 6, Zakuani 7, Brisley 5 (Knight-Percival 90, 6); Little 6, Boyd 7, Newell 5 (Swanson 75, 5), Rowe 8; Tomlin 7 (Kearns 89, 6), Gayle 6. Subs not used: Day, Alcock, McCann, Gordon. Yellow cards: Bostwick (57, unsporting behaviour), Brisley (80, dissent), Swanson (80, foul play).
Barnsley [3-5-2]: Steele 7; Cranie 6, McNulty 7, Kennedy 7; Stones 7, O’Brien 8 (Noble-Lazarus 85, 6), Perkins 7, Dawson 7, Golbourne 6; Dagnall 8, Davies 5 (Harewood 67, 7).Subs not used: Alnwick, Foster, Done, Cywka, Greening. Yellows: O’Brien (39, unsporting behaviour), McNulty (73, foul play), Golbourne (88, foul play), Cranie (90, foul play)
Ref: Darren Drysdale [Lincolnshire]