Barnsley are running out of time to keep their Championship status intact.
The Reds’ woeful run of form stretched to just three wins in their last 30 outings after defeat at Nottingham Forest last night.
Barnsley fans kept pointing towards their game in hand as an advantage over their rivals - but that went up in smoke at the City Ground. Goals from Matty Cash, Ben Brereton and Apostolos Vellios leave the Reds with two games left to save their season.
The relegation-stricken Reds face two tough games against play-off chasing opposition to end the season. They host Brentford in their final game at Oakwell this term, before travelling to Derby County.
Jose Morais rolled the dice and made six changes to the side that lost their first meeting against former boss Paul Heckingbottom at the weekend.
Goalkeeper Jack Walton came in for his debut at the expense of experienced Adam Davies. Dimitri Cavere, Adam Jackson, Dani Pinillos, George Moncur and Kieffer Moore were the other five to return to the side as Andy Yiadom, Matt Mills, Zeki Fryers, Conor Mahoney and Tom Bradshaw missed out.
Debutant Walton was thrown in at the deep end of a relegation battle and started brightly. The young goalkeeper superbly tipped Matty Cash’s effort wide after the Forest man did well to make space for himself on the edge of the box. Down the other end Adam Hammill missed a great chance to open the scoring when he fired over.
To be fair to Walton there was nothing he could do to prevent either of the two fantastic first-half goals. After 26 minutes Lee Tomlin brilliantly caressed a 25-yard effort past the debutant.
Just after the half hour goal machine Oli McBurnie was denied by Stephanos Kapino. Walton again produced a fine stop to keep out Adlebe Guedioura’s shot, which was destined for the top corner. But it was two not long later.
Tomlin turned provided to set Ben Brereton on his way before he rounded Walton to double the hosts’ advantage.
During the interval Forest’s Juan Rafael Fuentes was stretchered off after colliding with the returning Cavare. The Reds valiantly pushed after the break but could struggled to penetrate to Forest backline.
Former Forest man Gary Gardner nearly marked his return to the City Ground with a goal but could only tamely head straight at Kapino while McBurnie was also frustrated as Barnsley searched for a route back in to the match.
Vellios sealed the points at the death after Walton saved Joe Lolley’s initial attempted chip.
Nottingham Forest: Kapino, Lichaj, Mancienne, Fox, Fuentes-Hernandez (Osborn 45), Bridcutt, Watson, Guedioura, Cash, Brereton (Vellios 80), Tomlin (Lolley 80). Subs not used: Smith, Hobbs, Darikwa, Colback.
Barnsley: Walton, Cavare, Jackson, Lindsay, Pinillos, Potts, Gardner, Moncur (Mahoney 45), Hammill (Thiam 71), Moore (Bradshaw 87), McBurnie. Subs not used: Davies, McCarthy, Pinnock, Mallan.
Attendance: 23,633 (1,845)
Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)