BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill opted to make three changes from the team that started in the Boxing Day home defeat against Blackpool.
Now on the back of a run of three straight reverses, Hill also reverted to a 4-5-1 formation with Craig Davies leading the line on his own.
Ricardo Vaz Te dropped to the bench, while attacking wide-man Jim O’Brien didn’t even make the 16 for a potentially mouth-watering clash against a Leeds side who had lost their previous two Championship games.
Miles Addison and Bobby Hassell came into the starting line-up to strengthen up the midfield five, while at the back Stephen Foster was in in place of Rob Edwards to partner Jim McNulty at the heart of the defence.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson made four changes from the side that lost at Derby County last time out, with Paul Connolly, Mika Vayrynen, Ramon Nunez and Andy Keogh all getting the nod.
Barnsley: Steele, McEveley, Foster, McNulty, Wiseman, Perkins, Addison, Done, Butterfield, Hassell, Davies. Subs: Preece, Edwards, Vaz Te, Noble-Lazarus, Gray.
Leeds: Lonergan, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Vayrynen, White, Brown, Pugh, Nunez, Keogh, O’Dea, McCormack. Subs: McCarthy, Bruce, Becchio, Sam, Clayton.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).
As expected the atmosphere was electric as kick-off approached, with supporters of both sides turning out in excellent numbers in the unusually mild conditions for the holiday period.
Both sides probed and tested one another out in the opening minutes, although there was a scare for the Reds in just the third minute when skipper Butterfield went down under a hefty challenge just outside the centre circle and was forced to go off for some treatment on what looked like an ankle injury.
Butterfield limped back on a liitle gingerly, before Leeds threatened with the first clear-cut chance in the fifth minute.
McCormack lifted the ball neatly into Keogh’s path, but the striker fired an angled shot wide from the corner of the six-yard box.
That was definitely a scare for Hill’s men, and it was Leeds who were pressing.
They came mighty close again in the 15th minute, as this time the dangerous Nunez controlled before lashing in a super drive from 20 yards which fizzed inches wide.
There then came a minute of totally contrasting fortunes for the Reds.
Firstly it was a tale of disappointment as Butterfield had to succumb to his injury, to be replaced by Vaz Te who entered the fray after just 16 minutes.
Within 60 seconds VAZ TE was to make the most dramatic of impacts, however.
He latched onto Davies’ short pass after the striker has bravely battled past Kisnorbo, before smashing home a brilliant low strike past a stunned Lonergan from just inside the box.
Cue pandemonium from the home fans and Vaz Te was clearly buzzing. Within another minute he had teed up Done, only for the marauding midfielder to mis-control the ball with only the keeper to beat.
This was building up into a real cracker at Oakwell, and Leeds were to threaten again in the 22nd minute when Nunez again let fly from 20 yards, with the agile Steele diving down low to his right to save superbly.
The visitors were still threatening with some neat interchange passing, but too often the finish was lacking and Addison was have a great game, playing just in front of the two centre-backs.
Davies was proving a handful at Barnsley’s sharp end, and he tried his luck again in the 27th minute as Kisnorbo was forced to block his shot bravely.
The all-standing thousands of Leeds fans were being kept reasonably quiet, but on the half-hour mark their hopes were raised when McCormack’s charged through the middle before seeing a powerful drive deflected wide for a corner by Addison.
Vaz Te continued to buzz around the Leeds back line with menace, but in the 34th minute he fluffed a great chance to double the lead right in front of the masses of travelling fans.
Presented with a free-kick opportunity 25 yards out, Vaz Te blasted it high, wide and handsome as the visiting fans let out a predictable huge roar.
The Reds came much closer minutes later though, as Davies latched on to a smart short pass from Wiseman but could only blast a shot narrowly over from barely 10 yards.
Three minutes before the break Leeds threatened again as Nunez floated in a peach of a cross for Keogh, but Steele was equal to his header and saved well down low once again.
All in all it had proved to be a hugely satisfying first half for the Reds. They had defended valiantly, looked a strong threat going forward, and were probably worthy leaders as the whistle blew.
Half-time Barnsley 1 Leeds 0