Delighted boss Danny Wilson heaped glowing praise on his players after they hit back to win at Crewe to finally get their 2014-15 campaign off and running.
After no goals and two defeats to show from their opening two games of the season, prospects looked bleak for the Reds as they trailed at half-time at Gresty Road thanks to Billy Waters’ memorable strike.
The omens didn’t look good with the hosts having won the previous five meetings between these two, but the second half proved a totally different story as Leroy Lita and skipper Martin Cranie bagged the goals which sent the Reds’ almost 1,000-strong travelling army into dreamland.
After presiding over a super comeback victory which will set his team up perfectly for tomorrow’s League One trip to Coventry, Wilson said: “You’ve got to tip your hats to our lads, in the second half we came out and were very determined.
“We did so well getting back into the game like we did, and towards the end I thought there was only ever going to be one winner, and that was us.
“As a back four we were fantastic.
“All the lads were solid, strong, and first to the ball nearly all the time.
“Young (Crewe striker Vadaine) Oliver proved a real handful for us in the cup in midweek, but in this game we kept his very quiet.
“Everyone rose to the challenge in the end. The defeat on Tuesday hurt as you’d expect, but we’ve gone on and exacted that bit of revenge.”
Wilson was particularly pleased for his leader Cranie, whose only other senior goal came way back in 2009 when he notched for Coventry against Sheffield United.
The Reds boss added: “Martin was tremendous.
“He hadn’t started the first two games particularly quickly, but he was at it from the first minute here.
“He had to be, though. We saw the problems he had to contend with in midweek and we didn’t want a repeat.
“He rose to the challenge, definitely, and that’ll stand him in good stead going forward.”
Despite the disappointment of the midweek Capital One Cup first round defeat at the hands of Crewe, boss Wilson made just two alterations to his starting XI for league opposition against the same opposition.
And there was a switch across the Reds’ back four. Hull City loan left-back Joe Dudgeon slotted in, while promising teenager James Bree dropped to the bench.
Lewin Nyatanga moved into centre-back alongside skipper Cranie, and Reece Brown fitted it at right-back.
In the midfield, Luke Berry was given the nod, with Reuben Noble-Lazarus dropped to the bench.
The Reds soon gained a foothold into the game, almost breaking the deadlock with less than two minutes on the clock.
Keith Treacy flung over a terrific cross for Sam Winnall, only for the Reds’ front-man to see his glancing header brilliantly palmed away from the top corner of the goal by the hosts’ recalled ‘keeper Scott Shearer.
After that the tempo dropped, so much so that the next noteworthy piece of action saw Crewe fire themselves into the lead in the 23rd minute courtesy of a cracking goal from Billy Waters.
The young wide-man - who bagged at Oakwell in midweek - smashed a superb volley past a stunned Adam Davies following a pinpoint cross from left-back Greg Leigh.
It was a sweet finish from the edge of the six-yard box which the ‘keeper could do little about.
The Reds slipped back into their shells after the goal, but they did threaten an equaliser a minute before the break when Conor Hourihane drilled a shot narrowly over the top from 25 yards.
It was a different story after the break.
The visitors were on the front foot straight from the resumption and James Bailey quickly forced another fine stop from Shearer.
Barnsley were back in contention in the 56th minute.
Winnall drove the ball dangerously across Crewe’s six-yard box and after Shearer missed with his swipe to retrieve it, there was Lita loitering at the far post and he tucked a close-range effort into the gaping goal.
It was as though the shackles had been lifted.
Winnall went close again, Lita’s overhead kick drifted inches wide, and Crewe couldn’t find a response.
It came as no surprise when the skipper pounced for the crucial winner with a quarter-of-an-hour to go.
Hourihane’s cross wasn’t cleared, Nyatanga nodded the ball back into the danger zone, and there was hero Cranie who was perfectly placed to head the ball mercilessly into the roof of the Crewe net.
The comeback was complete, and though Crewe came close to levelling when Matt Tootle curled a free-kick into the side-netting late on, the Reds hung on comfortably for their precious, morale-boosting victory.