David Perkins was booked for a late challenge on Craig Noone in the 38th minute and five minutes later Andy Gray was yellow-carded for arguing with the referee following the hosts’ opening goal. Danny Drinkwater was booked late on and will now be banned.
Barnsley boss keith hill was left frustrated as his side slipped to defeat away to brighton in their last match before the international break.
Goals from man of the match gordon greer – his first of the season – and ryan harley did the damage as the seagulls took the points on their home patch for their first league win for 10 matches. Defeat for the reds was their third loss in four outings.
But it was a case of what might have been had it not been for two superb saves from keeper steve harper before gus poyet’s team had taken the lead.
Harper also pulled off another brilliant block five minutes from time as the reds looked to snatch a point on their travels.
Reds boss hill was without the suspended jim o’brien for his side’s trip to the seaside, the scot out for one match having picked up five yellow cards so far this term.
Striker danny haynes (hamstring), defender bobby hassell (groin) and midfielders goran lovre (knee) and reuben noble-lazarus (ankle) were also missing through injury. O’brien’s absence gave derby loan midfielder miles addison the chance to shine in the centre of midfield in a side otherwise unchanged from the one which beat hull city 2-1 at oakwell on tuesday night.
The reds found themselves on the back foot after just 34 seconds when striker craig mackail-smith had a shot charged down by defender stephen foster.
Skipper jacob butterfield, called up to the england under-21 set-up earlier in the week, had the reds’ first chance of the afternoon, but he saw his eighth-minute strike charged down on the edge of the box.
A clever pass from lively winger craig noone saw harley presented with a great chance to score, but he lashed his powerful left-foot shot into the side netting.
Keeper harper twice came to the hosts rescue in the 28th minute, first denying david perkins and then butterfield.
Midfielder perkins’ sweet opportunist strike was dipping under the crossbar until harper tipped the ball against the woodwork.
Just seconds later butterfield let fly with a 25-yard thunderbolt, but harper was alert again and palmed the ball past his left post.
Liam bridcutt tried his luck from distance in 42nd minute but saw his shot charged down.
And less than 60 seconds later the home side took the lead in controversial circumstances.
The reds were appealing for a handball when seagulls skipper greer swept home into the bottom right corner. The visitors were incensed the goal was given and surrounded referee kevin wright to vent their anger, but the cambridgeshire official waved away their protests.
Addison conceded a sloppy free-kick in first-half injury-time, but harley curled his shot well over the bar as a good chance to double their lead went begging.
After just 53 seconds of the second period went perkins volleyed over with a snapshot on the edge of the box.
Butterfield blasted high and wide having won himself a free-kick 35 yards from goal, before drinkwater dragged a shot well wide of the target.
But the signs were promising for the reds as they looked to make their early dominance pay.
Davies shot well over and then the reds were hit with a sucker-punch despite a brilliant save by luke steele.
Steele did superbly to deny mackail-smith, the ball flew free and then stephen foster produced a brilliant block.
However, the ball went free again and there was harley to lash it into the bottom left-hand corner.
Substitute ricardo vaz te nearly had an immediate impact as his close-range shot was cleared off the line, but no matter what the visitors threw at the seagulls they remained frustrated.
Butterfield had a shot cleared off the line by mauricio taricco, while vaz te should have scored, instead heading wide from jay mceveley’s pinpoint left-wing pass.
Poyet’s men pushed forward and in the 79th minute mackail-smith had a shot well blocked as the reds kept themselves in the contest.
Harper then produced another full-stretch save to deny butterfield who let rip with a fierce thunderbolt.
To compound a bad afternoon drinkwater was booked, his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning he will now be suspended for the club’s home match against doncaster rovers on november 19.