DAVE Flitcroft felt it would have been harsh if Bristol City had gone on to snatch a point against his gutsy 10-man battlers.
The Reds secured victory thanks to Jacob Mellis’s superbly-taken goal five minutes after the restart but were forced cling on when fans favourite Bobby Hassell was sent off.
The hosts dominated up to that point, but two minutes after the winning goal was scored Hassell deservedly saw red following a crude two-footed lunge on Jon Stead and from then it was a backs-to-the-wall defensive effort.
City sub Stephen Davies struck the crossbar with a fierce free-kick effort as the game entered stoppage-time, but assistant boss Flitcroft would have been aggrieved had that strike beaten Ben Alnwick.
Flitcroft said: “That ball hitting the crossbar was justice following our terrific performance.
“We’ve had to go through all the jeers and the cheers again, but every player put his body on the line again and we were worthy winners, I felt.
“The first 60 minutes saw us produce a thoroughly dominant performance. Bristol kept a good shape, but they couldn’t cope with our power plays and we really ought to have converted more of our chances.
“It was a lot more difficult for us after the sending-off, but we got what we deserved in the end.”
Asked whether the decision to send Hassell off was a correct one, Flitcroft added: “Of course it was.
“For whatever reason Bobby’s had a rush of blood.
“Whether he’d enjoyed the sun too much with him being a redhead I don’t know, but it was a poor first touch and frustration seemed to get the better of him.
“We’ve no qualms about the card.”
Following the Reds’ improved performance in their League Cup defeat at Premier League high-fliers Swansea City in midweek, manager Keith Hill opted to make just the single change to his starting line-up on Saturday.
That came in the defensive/midfield area as teenager John Stones was asked to drop to the bench, with experienced centre-back Stephen Foster getting the nod to start.
The Reds faithful will have been glad to get back onto home soil having endured three straight defeats on the road, but they were to come up against Derek McInnes’s Bristol City side who were in good form.
Thanks to back-to-back four-goal victories down at Ashton Gate, they went into the clash at Oakwell in a very healthy fourth position in the Championship.
The Reds dominated the first period, but just couldn’t score.
Only 11 minutes had been played when the hosts were denied by the woodwork.
A sweeping move saw star man Tomasz Cywka tee up Craig Davies and the Barnsley striker curled a 20-yard shot past Tom Heaton, only for the ball to strike the base of a post.
The rebound fell kindly for Mellis, but he fired his shot wide.
Chris Dagnall was in a tormenting mood and he saw a piledriver well saved by Heaton, while a point-blank Davies header also produced a stunning save.
If it hadn’t already, the game truly burst into life five minutes after the restart.
Davies worked wonders to get the ball out to Martin Cranie wide on the right, and his floated cross into the box was positively thumped into the net by the head of Mellis who registered his first goal of the season.
However, celebrations soon turned slightly sour after Hassell saw red barely two minutes later, leaving the Reds with a potentially tricky final half-hour to negotiate. It proved to be just that - save for efforts from Cywka and sub Marlon Harewood which came close to doubling the lead - with Martyn Woolford denied by Stones’ goal-line clearance and then Davies striking the bar with his beautifully-struck free-kick.
Barnsley hung on though, to register a timely second home Championship victory ahead of the two-week international break.
It proved to be a frustrating day for City boss McInnes who said: “On another day we might have scored two or three goals in the second half, although I suppose we had been a bit fortunate to go in at the break still 0-0.
“There’s a lot to be pleased about, but we’ve also got a lot to learn from that result.
“It was a cheap goal for us to give away, then when Barnsley had Bobby Hassell sent off it seemed to galvanise them.
“Credit to them for that - they had that little extra edge and determination about them.
“We were knocking on the door towards the end, but it just wouldn’t go in for us.”