Barnsley sealed successive wins in their battle against Championship relegation as they held off a fightback from play-off chasing Middlesbrough to secure a 3-2 victory.
A goal from Mads Andersen and Amine Bassi’s double was enough to secure all three points and move Barnsley within six points of safety with a game in hand.
Middlesbrough fought back through Andraz Sporar and a Liam Kitching own goal deep in stoppage time but now sit eighth, two points off the play-offs.
Carlton Morris came close for Barnsley early on, striking the ball with his back to goal from outside the box as Joe Lumley could only parry away.
Barnsley took the lead in the seventh minute. A great cross form Bassi found Andersen in the box, and he headed the ball into the bottom left corner.
Middlesbrough’s Sporar had an effort blocked in the six-yard box following a corner.
Barnsley then doubled their lead in the 16th minute as Morris laid the ball off to Bassi just inside the box and he placed the ball into the bottom right corner.
Duncan Watmore had a chance for Middlesbrough as the ball was squared across to him by Isaiah Jones but the winger scuffed his effort.
Jones had another opening for Middlesbrough right at the end of the half when he arrived late at the back post but could only put the ball over the bar on the volley.
Bassi had the first opportunity of the second half, meeting the ball on the volley following a crossfield ball, before Callum Styles hit the target from range with a sweet strike from around 25 yards out, forcing another smart save from Lumley.
Second-half substitute Folarin Balogun struck the post for Middlesbrough as Chris Wilder’s side looked for a response.
But Barnsley went three goals up in the 54th minute with a quick counter attack. Morris threaded the ball through to Bassi who put the ball past Lumley despite being held back by defender Anfernee Dijksteel.
Middlesbrough hit back with a penalty on the hour mark when Jones was brought down in the box and Sporar made no mistake from 12 yards.
Aaron Connolly looked to have pulled another goal back for Middlesbrough but the Republic of Ireland striker was denied by the offside flag.
Paddy McNair forced a good save from Collins at his near post in added time before Boro cut the gap to one.
Dael Fry’s strike deflected in off Kitching from close range but it came too late for Boro to stage a comeback as Barnsley breathed more life into their survival hopes.
What the managers said…
Barnsley’s Poya Asbaghi: “I knew it was a tough game against a really good opponent. We talked before the game, of course we have respect for Middlesbrough, but we did not want to show too much of that in the beginning of the game. We came into half-time and talked about not getting too comfortable and to try to go out and play like it is 0-0 and chase the third goal.
“What we did do was work really hard in the end and we tried to protect the lead and we accomplished that. It was a really important and impressive victory by the lads. We feel that we have a little bit of momentum, we are playing better football and we are working as a unit much better now than what we did a month ago. We have to take advantage of the situation we are in right now, with the confidence we have and take it into Derby (next week).”
Middlesbrough’s Chris Wilder: “The first 15 minutes cost us, the attitude of our back three not getting up the pitch. I thought Carlton Morris dominated our back three, which was disappointing. He set the line of where the game was going to be played. They played into him and down the side of him, I thought he was excellent. They [Barnsley] got the energy off their supporters who got right behind their team. They were winning 50-50s which allowed them to dictate the first half.
“We deservedly went into half time with the score as it was. I think you have got to give credit to Barnsley in the way they played but for me it was self-inflicted the result. The goals that we are conceding at the moment are ridiculous. If I was allowed nine subs I would have made five subs at half time, the back five come off.”