CRACKER of a Yorkshire derby saw Barnsley twice come from behind to earn a draw at ten-man Leeds.
Although they had the extra man for almost all of the second half, the Reds were still forced to dig deep amidst the white hot atmosphere at Elland Road.
Reds boss Mark Robins made a couple of changes to his starting XI following the disappointing late defeat at Portsmouth at the weekend.
Matt Hill stepped up from the bench to take his place at left-back – with Bobby Hassell able to take up his more familiar role on the opposite side of the back four – while Garry O’Connor came in to lead the line up front on his own.
Nathan Doyle and Diego Arismendi were again handed the holding midfield roles just in front of the back four, with Frank Nouble and Jim O’Brien on the bench.
Stephen Foster [thigh] and Hugo Colace [torn abductor] were again ruled out through injury, but loan man Paul McShane made his 150th league start at the heart of the defence alongside skipper Jason Shackell.
Promotion-chasing Leeds were unchanged following their thrilling 2-2 draw against Norwich.
Robins’ men powered into the lead inside two minutes, Kieran Trippier’s inswinging free-kick was knocked back into Leeds’ six-yard box by Danny Haynes, and there was Shackell who rammed the loose ball into the roof of the net. The travelling hordes went crazy.
Leeds struck the woodwork 10 minutes later though. Shackell handballed 20 yards out but Max Gradel’s exquisite free-kick struck the post before bouncing out and away for a corner-kick.
The hosts were already well on top by the time they did level matters halfway through the first half. Robert Snodgrass and Gradel had both gone close before Luciano Becchio struck. Luke Steele missed Neil Kilkenny’s deep cross, leaving Becchio free to nod home at the far post.
Barnsley ought to have gone back in front five minutes later. Trippier – who was seeing lots of the ball down the right flank – again beat George McCartney and crossed, but the unmarked O’Connor volleyed wide.
The Reds were made to pay in the 37th minute. Hill upended Gradel as he charged into the box, and the Ivory Coast-born forward converted the resulting penalty kick.
It started to look ominous for Barnsley, and just before half-time McShane was forced to desperately hack Bradley Johnson’s low drive off the line with Steele well beaten.
Robins made a change at the interval, and it paid almost immediate dividends.
Less than three minutes after the restart O’Brien played a measured pass to the raiding Hill, and the full-back smashed a sweet angled shot past Kasper Schmeichel to even it up.
The game then turned dramatically in Barnsley’s favour minutes later when Johnson was shown a second yellow card and he was off.
Barnsley were looking comfortable in possession again, and with an hour gone.
It was Leeds who went back in front in the 70th minute – and from a Reds point of view, a poor goal it was too.
O’Brien allowed himself to be dispossessed as he was crazily heading back towards his own goal, as danger man Gradel steadied before curling a super low shot past Steele and into the corner.
Leeds sub Davide Somma saw a deflected shot drift inches wide, and with his side now back on top in what had been a real thriller, time was starting to run out for Barnsley.
The visitors levelled again with nine minutes to go.
Jacob Mellis was tripped just outside the Leeds box, and up stepped the tireless Trippier to curl home a superb free-kick.
LEEDS: [4-5-1]: Schmeichel 7; McCartney 6, Bruce 6, O’Brien 7, Lichaj 7; Gradel 8, Kilkenny 7, Howson 7, Johnson 4, Snodgrass 5 (Watt 66, 6); Becchio 7 (Somma 66, 7).
Subs not used: Higgs, Paynter, Parker, Bromby, McCormack
Bookings: Johnson (43), Gradel (77)
Sent off: Johnson (51)
BARNSLEY: [4-2-3-1]: Steele 6; Hill 7, McShane 8, Shackell 7, Hassell 6 (Butterfield 73, 6); Doyle 5 (O’Brien 46, 6), Arismendi 7; Trippier 8, Mellis 7 (Gray 90), Haynes 7; O’Connor 5. Subs not used: Lovre, Preece, Nouble, Bennett.
Bookings: Hill (36), O’Brien (67), Shackell (77)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg [County Durham].