Disappointing Barnsley failed in their bid to make it five home league wins on the spin as Fleetwood roared back to secure the victory.
Rather than the Reds homing ominously in on a potential play-off place, it was Graham Alexander’s resolute outfit who made significant progress as they are now just a single point shy of the top six.
After being behind at the interval, the Reds all-too-rarely threatened in the second period and were booed off the pitch at the final whistle.
Reds boss Danny Wilson had made a couple of changes to his starting line-up following Saturday’s gutsy yet ultimately unsuccessful effort at Swindon. Leading scorer Conor Hourihane was back to add more guile and creativity to the midfield, while Kane Hemmings returned to partner George Waring up front.
Youngster George Smith was dropped to the bench, while Paul Digby was relegated from the Reds’ 18 altogether.
Striker Sam Winnall wasn’t risked as he continues to shake off a troublesome hamstring injury, though he is targeting this weekend’s trip to Crawley for a return after missing almost three months of the campaign already.
There was a rather muted atmosphere inside Oakwell at kick-off time, partly due to Fleetwood’s so-called ‘Cod Army’ numbering more like a tidy unit around 30 strong.
However, it was the Reds’ faithful who were quickly on their feet celebrating a goal after only five minutes.
It was that man Hourihane who was Fleetwood’s tormentor-in-chief. The 12-goal midfielder lashed in a wicked 20-yard free-kick that goalkeeper Chris Maxwell could only parry into the path of loanee centre-back Peter Ramage, and he gleefully rammed home the loose ball to register his third strike of the season.
The lead didn’t last long, though. In fact, by half-time the visitors led 2-1 largely due to some statuesque defending from the hosts’ back four.
Lewin Nyatanga headed the ball straight to Conor McLaughlin for the equaliser, with the Fleetwood full-back making the most of plenty of space as he guided a super shot into the top corner. Then, 14 minutes before the interval the Reds’ defence allowed David Ball to flick a corner-kick into strike partner Liam McAlinden’s path, and he made no mistake from three yards.
The Reds’ enviable recent winning home record was under serious threat.
With teenager Smith on in place of Jean-Yves M’voto ahead of the restart, the Reds opened the second period purposefully. Hemmings made a cracking run down the left and crossed in low, forcing Town’s veteran defender Stephen Jordan to almost scoop the ball into his own net.
It was a let-off for the visitors, while Milan Lalkovic also came close when fizzed a powerful shot inches wide.
Newly re-signed Manchester United loan star Ben Pearson also threatened when he produced a lung-busting run before shooting straight at the grateful Maxwell. At the other end the hosts were reminded of Fleetwood’s threat when Josh Morris fired wastefully over from just 15 yards. Tricky front-man Ball then ought to have done better when his curling effort missed the target.
The Reds rallied somewhat as desperation sunk in during the closing minutes, but Kane Hemmings nodded wide after diving in bravely to meet a cross from substitute Alex Kiwomya.
In the end it was a miserable night for the Reds, who fell to a second straight defeat.
barnsley: Turnbull 7, Cranie 6, M’voto 5 (Smith 46, 6), Ramage 7, Nyatanga 5, Scowen 8, Hourihane 7 (Jennings 77, 6), Pearson 7, Lalkovic 5 (Kiwomya 60, 6), Hemmings 5, Waring 6. Subs not used: Davies, Holgate, Bailey, Lita.
fleetwood: Maxwell 6, McLaughlin 6, Roberts 7, Jordan 6, Crainey 8, Hughes 7, Evans 5, Morris 7, Haughton 5 (Sarcevic 63, 5), Ball 6 (Murdoch 73, 5), McAlinden 7 (Hunter 81, 5). Subs not used: Springthorpe, Pond, Dobbie, Hornby-Forbes.