REDS boss Keith Hill tried his best to rally his injury-hit troops after Saturday’s dismal defeat at the hands of seemingly Premier League-bound Reading.
In the second half particularly Barnsley were second best across the park, and a run of just one point from the past available 18 has heaped the pressure on.
“It was another frustrating game for us,” said Hill. “But we’ve all got to stand up collectively during the remaining nine games of the season.
“If we fail, we have to fail together, but we’ve definitely not hit rock bottom yet.”
It had looked reasonably encouraging for the Reds at half-time with the score tied at 0-0, but the Royals cut loose in the second half and tore the hosts to shreds.
Brian McDermott’s side marched to a well-deserved ninth win from their last 10 games, and look a decent bet for automatic promotion back to the Premier League.
After missing the trip south to Championship leaders Southampton seven days earlier through illness, Hill was back to lead his weary troops at Oakwell.
And there were three changes to the hosts’ starting line-up as they continue to battle against a shocking injury list.
New signing Lee Collins came straight in for a start at left-back just days after his loan switch from administration-hit League Two outfit Port Vale.
He replaced Jay McEveley, while earning a first full start was talented teenage striker Danny Rose, who clearly impressed after coming on as substitute seven days earlier at the St Mary’s Stadium.
Midfielder Korey Smith was also drafted back into the starting XI, with David Cotterill and Stephen Dawson dropped to the bench.
Also on the bench was young keeper Lukas Lidakevicius in place of regular number two David Preece, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury.
Reading boss McDermott, whose team were bidding to hit the top of the pile with a win, included new loan signing from Portsmouth Hayden Mullins at right-back, while dangerous wide-man Jimmy Kebe was back after shaking off a knee injury.
There was a scare inside two minutes when Luke Steele had to charge out of his goal to thwart the onrushing Noel Hunt, who had been expertly played in by veteran front-man Jason Roberts.
Youngster Rose was lively early on and went close with a half-volley from fully 35 yards, but the Royals’ threat was clearly evident as skipper Jobi McAnuff curled a sweet shot just past Steele’s far post from the edge of the box.
Roberts was denied by the alert Steele, then the Reds’ number one was absolutely brilliant when diving full length to keep out a 30-yard piledriver from Mikele Leigertwood that was destined for the top corner.
The gutsy Reds had done well to reach half-time on level terms, but that soon changed after the restart.
Within four minutes the Royals were 2-0 up, and all but out of sight.
McAnuff pounced first, calmly slotting home after being neatly teed up by new BBC Radio pundit Roberts.
Within two minutes the lead was doubled, this time with Turkish midfielder Jem Karacan pouncing to fire into the roof of the net from close range after Ian Harte’s cross wasn’t cleared.
The best goal of Reading’s four came from Karacan in the 65th minute. He took a short pass from Hunt before crashing home a superb shot from 25 yards.
West Ham loan recruit Frank Nouble fired a free-kick narrowly over the top, but the Royals were in total command and it was no surprise when they wrapped up a clinical win with a fourth goal just as the game entered stoppage time.
This time Roberts strolled past a threadbare Reds defence before guiding a low shot past the despondent Steele.
It was a grim end to a grim day for Barnsley with McDermott the happier of the managers as his talented side edged closer to a return to the promised land.
He said: “This is a great result for us, but we do have players who know how to win games.
“We kept going and kept going, and that’s what we need to do between now and the end of the season.”