Chris O’Grady’s late leveller saw Barnsley bravely battle back from behind to give under-fire boss David Flitcroft a much-needed break.
O’Grady’s 79th minute strike was enough for a well-deserved point and ended a run of four successive Championship defeats.
The Reds remain rooted to the foot of the division despite a welcome point, but Flitcroft will be encouraged by a much-better showing from his team.
Hal Robson-Kanu’s 51st minute strike had given the Royals the lead against the run of play.
But former Sheffield Wednesday striker O’Grady levelled with 11 minutes left to secure a deserved share of the spoils.
The Reds, with three changes to their starting line-up, started brightly and David Perkins fizzed a sweet left-foot strike straight at Royals’ keeper Alex McCarthy in the seventh minute.
Five minutes later Jason Scotland, restored to the starting line-up after two goals in as many games, rifled wide of the left upright.
O’Grady linked up well to lay the ball into Scotland’s path, but the striker shot wide again.
Jacob Mellis nearly poked in at the near post after a cross from Scott Wiseman on the right, before the Reds nearly scored with a counter-attack.
David Perkins broke from the edge of the hosts’ box, Mellis picked out Scotland and the striker fired wide of McCarthy’s right-hand post.
Mellis blasted wide with an ambitious volley just before the half hour mark and, with the Reds on top, O’Grady teed up David Fox, but the Norwich City loanee shot straight at McCarthy.
At the other end Pavel Pogrebnyak had a left-foot charged down by centre-back Peter Ramage five minutes before the break.
Mellis shot high and wide moments later and, in first half injury-time, Paddy McCourt had a powerful left-foot strike deflected wide of the left upright.
Fox blasted wide of the target three minutes after the restart before skipper Martin Cranie was nearly caught out by former Rotherham striker Adam Le Fondre.
But Butland came to the rescue with a brilliant save to deny Le Fondre from point-blank save, although the striker shot over from the rebound.
Robson-Kanu then beat Butland to give the visitors an unexpected lead.
McCarthy could only parry a fierce Paddy McCourt drive as the Reds went close to equalising almost immediately, then Fox saw his free-kick deflected wide for a corner.
Full-back Chris Gunter shot over from distance as the Royals went close to killing the game off with a second goal, but the Reds kept battling and McCourt rifled a free-kick into the wall and substitute Marcus Pedersen had a shot deflected agonizingly wide.
Butland pulled off a fine save to palm away Le Fondre’s drive and Morrison hit the bar from a corner.
Sub Jobi McAnuff shot wide a minute later, but then the equaliser came when Scott Wiseman squared for O’Grady and the striker picked out the bottom right corner with a good strike.
Polish winger Tomasz Cywka nearly won it late on for the Reds with a long-range effort which McCarthy could only parry.