John Stones and his Everton team-mates sent his former club Barnsley tumbling out of the Capital One Cup, but the gutsy hosts gave the Premier League big boys a fright before losing in extra-time.
The Reds paraded bucket-loads of grit and character in battling toe-to-toe with the determined Toffees in a real humdinger of a tie, but were undone by an unfortunate Marc Roberts own goal and a second of the night from Romelu Lukaku after the game finished 3-3 following 90 frenetic minutes.
With the circus that had been swirling around Stones, the former Red certainly wasn’t expected to play after handing in a transfer request on Tuesday.
However, maybe to force the issue even further of whether the talented young defender would eventually get his big move to Chelsea, Toffees boss Roberto Martinez did name Stones in his starting XI.
With the Reds hoping to pocket as much as £5m or more if Stones does move to Stamford Bridge, one player who had already earned Barnsley £1m recently following his transfer to Everton was on the bench for the visitors - Mason Holgate.
With the TV cameras in town for the visit of the Premier League giants, little notice was paid to Lee Johnson’s Barnsley line-up, but he had rewarded the players who had helped extend the club’s unbeaten run to four games at the weekend by naming an unchanged starting XI.
It proved to be an absolute dream first half for the Reds as they went in at the break with a 2-0 lead.
Kevin Mirallas and Bryan Oviedo had already gone close for Everton before the deadlock was broken against the run of play by Sam Winnall in the 22nd minute.
A Conor Hourihane crosss wasn’t sufficiently cleared by Stones and the rest of his fragile-looking defence, leaving Winnall with time to swivel and drive a low shot past Joel Robles from 15 yards.
The Oakwell faithful were in dreamland, but within six minutes the lead was doubled when Marley Watkins poked home his first goal since a summer switch from Inverness after Josh Scowen had nodded the ball into his path.
Martinez made two changes at the interval, with Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu getting the nod, and the visitors halved the deficit in the 51st minute.
The Toffees had looked rejuvenated, and after Lukaku had seen an initial shot parried by Adam Davies, Mirallas buried the rebound clinically from 12 yards.
Once Steven Naismith had made it 2-2 bang on the hour mark it was looking a little desperate for the Reds, but incredibly, within a minute, Johnson’s battlers had fired themselves back in front.
Reece Wabara broke menacingly down the right flank before crossing for Dan Crowley, who swept home his first Reds goal with some aplomb from 15 yards.
Everton’s travelling army breathed a collective sigh of relief with 12 minutes to go when Lukaku steered home another Deulofeu cross, but the game ebbed and flowed almost frantically into the extra-time period.