BARNSLEY boss Mark Robins saluted Andy Gray as his brace earned the Reds a deserved point away to promotion-chasing Cardiff.
The experienced striker was only on the pitch because of injury to Danny Haynes – but he grabbed his chance to become leading scorer with six.
Peter Whittingham had given the hosts a lead with a 21st min wonder strike and Dekel Keinan looked to have won it for the Bluebirds when he headed the hosts ahead with seven minutes remaining.
But twice Gray, who has sat on the sidelines for much of this season, levelled for his club twice..
“Andy was fantastic all day” praised Robins. “It’s testament to him because he’s waited patiently for his chance and shown what a good professional he is. I thought we at least we deserved a point, it was a battling performance.
If we’d have shown more belief then we could have won the game, but that’s a very good point for us.
“There’s still a lot of football to play this season, so hopefully we can push on and pick up as many points as possible.”
Robins made one change to his side which beat Scunthorpe United last Tuesday, winger Jim O’Brien dropped to the substitute’s bench and defender Matt Hill given a surprise start. Hill started at left-back with Jay McEveley moved to the left wing. But after only ten minutes the Reds’ line-up was disrupted when Haynes limped off with a hamstring injury.
It was Robins’ men who had the first chance, but McEveley scuffed a right foot shot and his weak effort limped past Stephen Bywater’s post.
Four minutes later midfielder Nathan Doyle tried his luck with a volley only to see his shot fly high and wide. And then, having failed to create a single chance on goal, Whittingham put the hosts ahead with a wonderful finish from distance.
The winger teed himself up for a volley 35 yards out and found the top left-hand corner.
But the Reds should have been level two minutes later when Blackpool lonan striker Marlon Harewood went close to bagging his third goal in two games.
Harewood beat the offside trap but struck the right post from an acute angle.
Not long after Michael Chopra was taken off on a stretcher with a hamstring injury. The striker injuring himself whilst delivering a right-wing cross.
The visitors were level in the 29th minute; Harewood’s cushioned headed sat perfectly for Gray to find the bottom right-hand corner.
Keeper Luke Steele denied Bellamy with a smart block with his legs after the winger lost right-back Kieran Trippier.
Jay Bothroyd shot wide ten minutes before the break and three minutes later Bellamy had a penalty appeal turned down after he was sent sprawling after a strong challenge from fellow skipper Jason Shackell.
After the break it was the Reds who were quicker out of the blocks and Gray nearly bagged a second goal in the 52nd minute.
Hill delivered an inch-perfect cross from the left only for Gray to head straight at Bywater. Substitute Chris Burke, who came on for Chopra, made a bursting run just before the hour mark and was unlucky with a right-foot shot which flew wide of Steele’s left post. Burke then picked out Bothroyd at the back post, but the striker was thwarted by Steele at his near post after he’d managed to get a volley on target.
Steele pulled off an even better save to deny Bellamy, the keeper got down well at his near post to save the Welshman’s powerful drive.
Centre-back Mark Hudson then headed wide of the right post from a Whittingham corner, while at the other end Diego Arismendi shot over from the edge of the Bluebirds’ box. Steele dealt well with a Whittingham free-kick and Shackell made a superb last-ditch tackle on substitute Jon Parkin as he was just about to poke home Bellamy’s square ball into the six-yard area.
But the Bluebirds’ impressive Burke got a yard on Hill and dinked a delightful chip to the back post where Keinan was waiting to head home his first goal for the club.
However, there was still a twist in the tale.
Substitute Jacob Butterfield picked out goalscorer Gray with a pinpoint pass with a minute of normal time remaining and he bagged his second of the afternoon to snatch a point for the Reds and stopped the Bluebirds from climbing up to second in the Championship table.
Mark Robin’s View
Jacob Butterfield’s got great ability and he’s been an impact player for us this season. He’s certainly made an impact for us when he came on today.
He’s put a great ball in the box and Andy Gray has done what he does well, he’s got across his marker and scored a good equaliser.
We’ve got players forward and I thought we kept their big guns quiet for the most of the game.
“I thought the least we deserved was a point, it was a good performacne from us.”