Delighted Danny Wilson saluted a terrific comeback victory from Barnsley as they roared to a commanding 3-1 Yorkshire derby success in front of the watching nation.
In the end Bradford were well beaten at Oakwell as second-half strikes from Sam Winnall and Kane Hemmings, allied to Rory McArdle’s own-goal, meant the Reds were worthy victors.
Wilson’s grafters are now up to 13th place in Sky Bet League One after registering back-to-back wins for the first time this term, though they were forced to hit back the hard way as the Bantams struck in the opening minute.
Wilson was unsurprisingly full of praise for his team, however, following a breath-taking derby clash at a noisy Oakwell.
Wilson said: “Bradford caught us cold in that first minute, but by half-time I thought we were unlucky not to be at least level. We’d created some great chances and the performance overall was good.
“In the second half, though, we did everything we’d be threatening to do for a good few weeks now. Some of the football we played was excellent and throughout we offered a threat. Overall it was the best performance the lads have put in since I returned, and what a time to do it.
“In front of the cameras. and against a very good, well-organised team in Bradford, I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players.
“That can only fill the players with confidence, and we’ll got to Peterborough next week in high spirits.”
The Reds had turned in an impressive second-half effort at Oldham during the week before eventually slipping out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties, so Wilson made just the three changes to his starting line-up.
The previous weekend’s match-winning hero Peter Ramage was back, as was skipper Martin Cranie, with the two forging a hopefully solid centre-back partnership.
Meanwhile, Devante Cole was restored as he was given the nod to partner Winnall up top. Despite only getting hitched in his native Ireland on Friday, Keith Treacy was back in South Yorkshire and took a surprise place among the substitutes.
The Oakwell faithful were out in force hoping their side could register back-to-back league wins for the first time this season, but the hosts couldn’t have got off to a worse start as the Bantams surged into the lead after just 44 seconds.
And it was a sweetly-worked strike, with a neat move culminating with Mark Yeates’ pass into Jason Kennedy, who in turn side-footed his second goal of the season comfortably past a stunned Ross Turnbull.
The near 2,000-strong travelling army rejoiced wildly, but credit to the Reds players, they soon had their our supporters back on their feet.
By the halfway point in the first period the Reds hadn’t scored, but they were clearly right back in contention.
Luke Berry’s screamer was superbly saved by ‘keeper Jordan Pickford, as was a similar effort from distance from Conor Hourihane.
Winnall was the next to be thwarted by the busy Bantams ‘keeper, but the Reds needed to be mindful that the visitors were always going to be a threat on the counter-attack.
The hosts were nearly caught out in one such instance in the 24th minute when Billy Clarke almost doubled his team’s slender lead.
It was the woodwork which came between the Reds and a deserved equaliser 10 minutes later.
Cole and Winnall combined beautifully down Barnsley’s right, before the latter bore down on goal before crashing in a venomous strike which struck the top of the crossbar before bouncing behind to safety.
Seconds before the interval Pickford produced another top-drawer save to deny Winnall, meaning the Bantams just about held on to their lead following an end-to-end 45 minutes.
Only three minutes of second-half action had passed before the Reds did get their leveller.
It wasn’t the prettiest goal as Rory McArdle - under intense pressure from Lewin Nyatanga - inadvertently flicked a header past Pickford from Hourihane’s in-swinging free-kick, but it gave the Reds lift-off.
Clearly lifted by the goal and the response from the raucous home faithful, Wilson’s men almost netted again a minute later, only for Winnall to see his superbly-hit drive whistle inches past the post.
The Reds were looking increasingly menacing as the hour mark came and went, with loanee Ryan Williams - on his home debut - seeing an effort deflect kindly into Pickford’s grasp.
The Bantams’ ‘keeper could do little to keep out Winnall in the 65th minute, however.
The Reds’ front-man coolly side-footed a low effort past Pickford after being expertly teed up by Nyatanga, and the game had been turned on its head.
Still the Reds pressed and Hourihane forced Pickford into yet another save, but in the end there was no real need for any further panic.
The Bantams rarely threatened during the closing quarter-of-an-hour, rather it was left to sub Hemmings to add Barnsley’s cous-de-gras deep into stoppage-time.
Hourihane must have thought his chance had gone to make it 3-1 with the Bantams flagging, but Andrew Davies’s tackle meant the ball flicked up into the path of Hemmings, who slotted smoothly into the bottom corner of the net to complete a perfect Sunday.
Barnsley: Turnbull 7, Cranie 7, Ramage 7, Nyatanga 8, Bree 6, Bailey 6, Hourihane 7, Berry 6, Williams 6 (Brown 86, 6), Winnall 8 (Hemmings 90, 6), Cole 7 (Lita 90, 5).
Subs not used: Davies, Dudgeon, Treacy, M’voto.
Booked: Nyatanga (46), Cole (53).
Bradford: Pickford 8, Darby 5 (Bennett 86, 5), Davies 7, McArdle 6, Sheehan 5; Kennedy 7, Yeates 7, Knott 5 (Morais 61, 6), Liddle 7, Clarke 7 (McBurnie 79, 6), Mclean 6.
Subs not used: Williams, Meredith, Dolan, Routis.
Booked: Liddle (25), Sheehan (36).
Referee watch: Andy Madley – the young Yorkshire official had a good game. Rarely looked ruffled despite being in charge of such a huge game.
Danny Wilson said: “This was the best performance since I came back to the club.
“We looked a threat throughout against a very well-organized Bradford side.”
Phil Parkinson said: “It’s clearly a big disappointment. We looked reasonably comfortable at half-time, but the game has gone away from us.
“Barnsley upped their tempo in the second half and we struggled at times.”
Hero: Sam Winnall grabbed a winning goal he so richly deserved in what was arguably his best performance in a Reds shirt.
His efforts perfectly complemented the threat posed by his livewire strike partner Devante Cole.
Villain: Ross Turnbull may well have done a little better at Bradford’s early goal. Possibly caught cold, the Reds’ ‘keeper dived but couldn’t prevent Kennedy’s strike sliding home.
Turning point: Clearly, grabbing an equaliser so soon after the restart was a case of ‘perfect timing’.
The goal provided the Reds with that perfect launch-pad, and they didn’t disappoint by the end of the game.
Viewpoint: Back-to-back league victories for the first time this season and Barnsley are on the up again.
This was a terrific comeback victory and one which will have no doubt given Danny Wilson plenty of heart.
Up into 13th place in Sky Bet League One, the resurgent Reds will now head south to big guns Peterborough next weekend with a real spring in their steps.