Barnsley were brought back down to earth with a bump with defeat to Championship leaders Leicester City last night.
The hit-and-miss Reds had hoped to build on their fine win over promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
But the in-form Foxes proved too hot to handle as a brace of goals from Jamie Vardy, ex-Stocksbridge Park Steels, and a close-range strike from former Reds loanee Danny Drinkwater helped the visitors stretch their impressive unbeaten league run to 15 games.
Vardy’s 21st minute strike gave Leicester the perfect start after some sustained pressure and then Drinkwater scored one of the easiest goals of his career, tapping home from Vardy’s cross two minutes before the hour. Vardy bagged a second with a smart finish in the 62rd minute to compound a miserable evening for Danny Wilson’s misfiring team.
The Reds remain two points away from safety after fellow strugglers Millwall and Yeovil Town both lost, but Wilson and his charges now have just 12 games to avoid relegation.
Wilson made one forced changed with winger Jim O’Brien missing out with a knee injury and Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt handed his first start since December 29.
However, it was the Foxes who made all the running .
Reds skipper Martin Cranie was forced to hobble off with a hamstring injury after only 11 minutes and Frenchman Jean-Yves M’voto was thrust into the fray.
Barnsley were all at sea and 10 minutes later Vardy made the early pressure count with his 14th goal of the season. Nugent provided the defence-splitting pass and Vardy did the rest, coolly slotting past the helpless Steele.
Steele saved well at his near post from Nugent and then denied the striker with a fine block in a one-on-one situation.
But the hosts could have equalised on the stoke of half-time when leading scorer O’Grady headed just wide when he probably should have done better.
Peter Ramage limped off with a hamstring injury to make matters worse for Barnsley, before they broke and Dale Jennings shot inches over .
Then the Foxes scored two goals in the space of five minutes to kill off the contest. Drinkwaker slotted home from close-range and then Vardy rounded Steele four minutes after to net his 15th goal of the campaign and his fifth goal in four games. There was no way back for the Reds.
Goals: Vardy 21, 62,Drinkwater 58 (Leicester_.
Barnsley: Steele, Hunt, Kennedy, Cranie (M’voto 11), Ramage (Nyatanga 54), Mellis, Dawson, Woods, McCourt (Proschwitz 45), Jennings, O’Grady. Subs: Turner, Lawrence, Cykwa, Noble-Lazarus.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Drinkwater, Morgan, James, Vardy , (Taylor-Fletcher 67), Schlupp, Knockaert (Hammond 78), Mahrez, Wasilewski, Nugent (Wood 65). Subs: Logan, King, Moore, Phillips.
referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)