Watch the "Wild scenes" as Reds win away: Walsall 0 Barnsley 1
Jacob Brown struck at the death as Barnsley ramped up the pressure on third-placed Sunderland with a 1-0 victory at struggling Walsall.
With the Black Cats inactive this weekend, the Tykes knew a win would take them five points clear in the race for automatic promotion.
And the Reds took full advantage when winger Brown, anonymous for most of the game, celebrated his return from suspension with the winner in added time.
Barnsley were second best for most of the game, struggling to cope with Walsall’s pace on the break, but ground out the sort of win required to win promotion.
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The win extended their League One unbeaten streak to 19 matches as they claimed a seventh consecutive clean sheet.
Alex Mowatt tested Liam Roberts with a low shot early on following neat build-up play.
Walsall thought they were ahead when Isaiah Osbourne smashed a volley into the top corner from the edge of the area, but it was disallowed after Ethan Pinnock was fouled in the build-up.
After Barnsley’s appeals for a penalty were turned down when Ben Williams went down in the box, Walsall wasted a glorious chance to score.
They broke at pace, cutting the Reds open, but when Josh Gordon was played in, he blazed over.
Jon Guthrie then headed wide from a corner and Liam Kinsella fired over from Zeli Ismail’s cutback as the hosts continued to probe.
Cauley Woodrow almost had a sniff of goal, seeing a shot blocked from Brown’s cross, but Barnsley were struggling to create chances.
That changed in the 35th minute when Mamadou Thiam pounced on a loose ball, created space and smashed a fierce drive that Roberts tipped over.
Ismail was Walsall’s dangerman down the right, regularly giving Williams the run around, and he hit the side-netting when trying to beat Jack
Walton from a narrow angle.
Thiam then curled an ambitious 25-yard free-kick straight at Roberts.
Walsall provided another warning early in the second half, with George Dobson shooting over, while Mike Bahre failed to hit the target at the other end.
Williams then came to his side’s rescue in the 62nd minute, producing an acrobatic last-ditch clearance off the line.
Liam Lindsay’s attempted ball forward ricocheted off Cameron McGeehan into the path of Corey Blackett-Taylor, who raced clear and was half-denied by Walton before Williams was in the right place at the right time.
Barnsley left themselves far too open at the back, inviting Walsall to counter-attack, and Walton had to be alert to deny Gordon’s low effort.
Ismail then outpaced Lindsay and was denied by a sprawling Walton.
Walton’s opposite number Roberts came to Walsall’s rescue near the end, standing firm to block a left-footed Woodrow drive after the striker’s deft touch created space to let fly in the box.
But Barnsley won it in added time through Brown, who was found by Mowatt and held his nerve to beat Roberts after his first effort was blocked to spark wild scenes.
Barnsley: Walton, Pinnock, Lindsay, McGeehan (Adeboyejo, 75), Woodrow, Cavare, Bahre (Styles 67), Thiam (Green 84), Mowatt, B Williams, Brown.
Subs: Greatorex, Fryers, J Williams, Jackson.
Walsall: Roberts, Leahy, Dobson, Guthrie, Devlin, Ismail, Kinsella, Gordon, Osbourne, Scarr, Blackett-Taylor.
Subs: Dunn, Edwards, Cook, Ferrier, Fitzwater, Laird, Oteh.
Referee: Ben Toner