Barnsley couldn’t find the result that could have lifted them off the Championship’s basement, but the players deserve plenty of credit for running new Championship leaders Burnley close at fortress Turf Moor.
Sadly the gutsy Reds couldn’t follow up the terrific midweek victory at Brighton with another good result in this Roses battle.
But, particularly in an end-to-end first half, Micky Mellon’s charges gave an excellent account of themselves.
Three points from two extremely tough away fixtures since David Flitcroft was sacked is not a bad return, and caretaker boss Mellon, while also admitting he doesn’t have a clue what his short-term future at Barnsley holds, has at least been pleased with the commitment shown by the players since the departure of the former manager.
Mellon said: “It has been important that the players showed a reaction after what had been such a disappointing week. They produced at Brighton and then they showed a reaction at Burnley.
“We gave it a right good go, but missed chances proved costly in the end.
“There were lots of positives to take from the performance, but maybe we could have done a bit better in front of goal.”
There was little surprise when it was announced that Mellon - returning to a ground where he enjoyed two years as a player between 1999 and 2001 - had stuck with the same starting line-up following the midweek heroics on the south coast - the Reds first win on their travels all season and in 16 attempts overall.
Unfortunately seven-goal leading scorer Chris O’Grady hadn’t recovered from his calf injury sufficiently to make the squad, though Norwegian hit-man Marcus Pedersen was back on the bench after shaking off his thigh complaint.
Marcus Tudgay was again handed the task of leading the line on his own.
The Clarets - who had been in third place in the table and remain unbeaten at home - had stuttered slightly ahead of the weekend, with the midweek goalless draw with Watford being their fifth game without a win.
Their boss, Sean Dyche, made three alterations, in a team which featured former Reds Kieran Trippier and skipper Jason Shackell.
The first half was a cracker, though almost unbelievably neither side managed a goal.
Sam Vokes came close to opening the scoring twice within the opening three minutes.
First he latched on to a long through-ball from Shackell before slicing a shot horribly wide when faced only by keeper Jack Butland, then he fizzed a volley inches over the top after pouncing on a poor defensive clearance.
The Reds soon clawed their way into contention with Paddy McCourt, again full of twists and turns, firing narrowly over the top.
Recalled striker Danny Ings nodded just wide for the hosts, before Barnsley’s sweetest move of the match almost brought a goal after 21 minutes.
Tudgay’s slide-rule pass found Tomasz Cywka, but as the Polish winger charged through on goal out raced keeper Tom Heaton to save superbly with his legs.
Minutes later Cywka found space in the Burnley box again, only this time he blazed disappointingly over.
The Reds had matched their lofty opponents stride for stride in the first period, but the hosts were a totally different proposition after the restart.
After a talking-to from the imposing Dyche, the Clarets got it together in the second half, with Ings twice going close before the decisive goal did eventually come in the 65th minute.
It was a sweet strike too, with Trippier playing in former Wolves man Michael Kightly who fired clinically past Butland from just inside the box.
Cywka almost responded dramatically with a superbly-struck 35-yard free-kick which Heaton finger-tipped over the bar, but the hosts were pretty much in control and held on to their lead reasonably comfortably.
Midfielder Scott Arfield almost doubled their lead when he fired wide following a super jinking run.
So the Reds couldn’t register that second straight win for the first time since March on a day when they were sunk by a superb goal at high-flying opponents.
Clarets boss Dyche said: “It was a marvellous moment of quality that won the game for us.
“It was a great moment for us and a great moment for Michael.
“I gave the players a reminder at half-time of just how good they are, and that clearly had a positive effect.”