Jacob Mellis’ first goal for eight months proved the vital difference as managerless Barnsley claimed a precious away victory over Brighton.
It was the Reds’ first away win in the Championship for 16 games, a miserable run which dated back to last February.
And it was also the first time since 1988 that the Reds had won on the road away to the Seagulls by the seaside.
The last team to have won at the Amex Stadium this season was Nottingham Forest – and that victory was back in October.
But Mellis’ 50th minute close-range strike, his first goal since April and first of the season, was just the tonic after the under-fire Reds were forced to soak up plenty of late pressure before finally securing three welcome points.
Caretaker boss Micky Mellon made four changes to the side which lost 3-0 at home to fellow strugglers Birmingham City on Saturday.
Polish winger Tomasz Cywka started, as did Mellis, fellow midfielder Kelvin Etuhu and defender Peter Ramage, the Crystal Palace loan centre-back back having recovered from a thigh injury,
That meant Frenchman Jean Yves-M’voto, Stephen Dawson and Jim O’Brien dropped to the substitute’s bench, while Norway international striker Marcus Pedersen missed out with a thigh injury.
And the Reds started cagily with David Lopez firing just wide for the hosts, before Jack Butland off a fine fingertip save to tip midfielder David Conway’s powerful effort onto the crossbar.
Cywka had a shot charged down and McCourt had an effort blocked before the latter bagged a 35th minute opener.
It was the perfect start as the Reds begun life without former boss David Flitcroft, sacked after the dismal loss to the Blues.
The former Celtic playmaker combined well with Nottingham Forest loan recruit Marcus Tudgay and saw his shot trickle into the right-hand corner after Seagulls’ keeper Tomasz Kuszczak failed to deal with the danger.
And then Mellis doubled the lead five minutes after the restart after more good work from Tudgay.
The former Chelsea midfielder could hardly miss from six yards out – and he didn’t disappoint to give the visitors a stranglehold on the contest. But then the Seagulls sprung to life and, after Stoke City loan keeper Jack Butland had made a brilliant fingertip save, Matthew Upson popped up, unmarked at the back post, to head the hosts backs into it.
The defender rose tallest from a corner to direct his looping header over Butland and leave a frantic finale to proceedings.
Butland pulled off another brilliant save, this time to thwart Conway, but the Reds held on for what could be a crucial victory – and what that could help Mellon land the vacant manager’s job on a permanent basis.