Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was in the stars, but Barnsley’s quest to avoid relegation will now go down to the final day of what has been a crazy Championship season.
And to add extra spice to what promises to be a grand finale to the domestic campaign, the Reds know they will have to draw or beat Huddersfield Town, now managed by their former boss, Mark Robins, to avoid the drop.
Defeat against the Terriers and the Reds are down.
But on the evidence of this spirited win – and there have been many of them since David Flitcroft replaced Keith Hill at the helm – there will be genuine believe the club can extend their seven-season stay in the English second tier.
A gutsy home win over high-fliers Hull City was deservedly a victory to savour – and one which gives Flitcroft and his battle-hardened players a chance to secure survival on the last day.
The Reds were fantastic as they tamed the Tigers, opponents who had the chance to secure a memorable automatic promotion with a game to spare.
Goals from Jacob Mellis and Chris O’Grady helped the Reds stun Steve Bruce’s stuttering side to set up what promises to be a nerve-jangling end to the season.
But a fine day at the office was slightly spoilt by Peterborough United’s 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday.
The Reds were out of the bottom three and three points above the drop zone, but Posh’s victory saw Flitcroft’s slip to third from bottom.
“It was a really special day for everyone,” beamed Flitcroft. “All week in the run-up to the game we’d been hearing about how Hull would secure their promotion, how they would come here and beat us and how they would celebrate after the game.
“But my players have remained focused on their jobs and this was the result.
“It has been an incredible season for Steve Bruce to get Hull in second position, but we had a game-plan mapped out and each of the players have carried it out to a tee.
“I’m absolutely delighted. It was unbelievable the amount of effort we put in.
“We were resilient and we produced the better quality overall.
“In fact it was pretty much a perfect team performance.
“Most teams don’t normally get much joy out of Hull, but we’ve tamed them.
“We played a high, brave line, and Jacob Mellis and David Perkins in the middle of the midfield produced breathtaking energy.
“We ended up restricting Hull - one of the best teams in the league - to throwing balls into the box.
“We’ve had to show character to bounce back from the disaster against Charlton [a 6-0 home defeat], but we’ve done that with great quality and it has given us a great chance of surviving.”
Victory against the Tigers, whom the Reds beat in the FA Cup earlier in the season, came on the back of a resilient draw at Nottingham Forest.
And so it came as a little surprise when Flitcroft made two changes to his line-up.
Attacking midfielder Kelvin Etuhu was back after four games out with a hamstring injury, while striker Chris Dagnall was given the nod to partner O’Grady up front. Jim O’Brien’s made his 100th appearance for the club.
Youngster Andrai Jones and Jason Scotland were dropped to the bench as almost 16,000 supporters packed into Oakwell (6,000 of them Hull fans).
And it was a cracker from Mellis who gave the Reds the start they craved on a afternoon which could prove to be a huge defining point in their battle to stay up.
The former Chelsea starlet latched onto O’Grady’s flick-on after only four minutes and unleashed an unstoppable angled strike which left keeper David Stockdale no chance as it flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was a brilliant start for the hosts as they went on to enjoy the better of a tense first half which wasn’t exactly littered with clear-cut chances.
Dagnall was denied by the onrushing Stockdale, while at the other end Corry Evans’ initial shot was blocked by defender Scott Wiseman before the rebound was crashed inches wide by Robbie Brady.
The Reds closed the first half strongly with Reuben Noble-Lazarus setting off on a lung-busting, mazy run before smashing a shot narrowly over the top.
So far so good, but there was plenty more hard work needed after the break to make sure of maximum points.
And O’Grady proved the man to give the Reds breathing space when he doubled the Reds’ lead five minutes after the resumption.
The Sheffield Wednesday loan hitman pounced on an error from Abdoulaye Faye before driving sweetly past a helpless Stockdale. It was a smart finish.
Jay Simpson looked lively as he came on to replace the ineffective George Boyd, twice going close as the Tigers looked to reduce their arrears.
Nick Proschwitz replaced Matty Fryatt and the big man proved a real handful.
He first nodded onto the roof of the crossbar after being teed up by Simpson, then fired wide from just 12 yards out.
But the Reds’ three-man defence was proving impenetrable with Wiseman, Martin Cranie and Tom Kennedy all as heroic as one another, while a midfielder gave absolutely everything as they guarded their lead with their lives.
In the end the visitors ran out of ideas and belief.