BARNSLEY’S missed chances came back to bite them when they conceded in the final minutes of an encounter with Millwall in which they had plenty of opportunities to take the initiative.
The Oakwell faithful made their feelings clear at the end of the dreary afternoon which could have seen a vital win for the ever-more under pressure Markus Schopp ahead of the two-week international break.
Barnsley came into the game the league’s joint second-lowest scorers – though their visitors weren’t much better having netted ten times to the Reds’ seven – and winless in eight.
The brightest moments of a lifeless first half were when Aaron Leya Iseka – making his first start since the nil-nil draw with Blackburn Rovers on September 18 – picked up the ball and showed off his arsenal of tricks.
But a Reds side whose last goal at Oakwell from open play was in August’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City struggled to break down the Lions’ back line led by the experienced Shaun Hutchinson, their best opportunity spurned by Devante Cole making his first start since re-signing.
Cole was given a golden chance to put his side ahead 19 minutes in, when Jake Cooper lost control of the ball to the left of the Lions’ defence, but while the striker was quick to pounce his attempt was lazy and palmed away by Bialkowski.
Leya Iseka tested Bartosz Bialkowski early, a left-footed drive from 20 yards almost creeping in at his left – but the ‘keeper got his fingertips to it.
But the visitors were also lively in the opening exchanges and Sheyi Ojo’s dart into the box from the right saw a low strike saved by Brad Collins, who then reacted as Murray Wallace’s deflected follow up spun towards him.
Cauley Woodrow saw a 6th-minute corner repelled but then tried his luck from a tight angle on the right and forced another good save at the near post.
The Reds kept the pressure on, Woodrow starting on the right before swapping places with Leya Iseka and occasionally Cole.
Another corner moments later led to chances for Liam Kitching, stooping to get his head to it, and then Michal Helik who fired his volley wide.
George Evans then fired wide for the Lions, finding some space on the edge of the box.
Callum Styles had a long-range effort blocked on 15 minutes, wing-back Ben Williams – who was given licence to push up into a left wing position – affording him the space to advance.
Jed Wallace then broke on the left, with two-on-two in the box for the visitors, but his cross was well-blocked by Kitching.
The lively Leya Iseka, who made beating the defender his main mission every time he picked up the ball, took a crack at goal around half an hour in but saw his effort wide of the left post.
A few minutes later Benik Afobe looked to handle the ball on the ground, as he attempted to wrestle free of Kitching in the box, but the referee gave his side a corner – shortly after which Evans was booked for stopping Cole’s counter.
As the rain got worse, so did the football and a booking for the ineffective Romal Palmer was the last main event of the first half.
The Reds looked shakier at the start of the second half – there were shades of Wednesday’s defeat to Nottingham Forest, as Williams pushed up and left space behind him for Jed Wallace to run into.
Kitching, who produced a number of last-ditch tackles and blocks as he did on Wednesday night, denied Wallace an almost certain goal ten minutes into the half.
Five minutes later, Leya Iseka had an opportunity to feed the ball into Cole on the edge of the box but indecision got the better of him as he chose to send it wide to Woodrow.
Palmer was substituted for Toby Sibbick as Jasper Moon moved into midfield.
It was a second half of little quality as the Reds tried to work their passing game, which they did with some style but little cutting edge.
Callum Brittain tried a long range strike on 67 minutes after semi-intentionally beating Ojo but it was well wide.
Leya Iseka was replaced by Dominik Frieser 70 minutes in – the Belgian going down with what looked like cramp, but then asking to be subbed having tried to run it off.
Ex-Red Tom Bradshaw was a second half sub for the visitors and forced a decent save from Collins who held the striker’s header on 75 minutes.
Bradshaw, who scored 18 times in 85 league appearances for Barnsley, sparked more life into Millwall’s front line – and had another chance a minute later when he fired at Collins from a tight angle on the left.
Matt Smith was introduced with a quarter of the match left and immediately made his presence felt at a corner, forcing another save with a header.
With less than ten minutes left, some good play from Styles and sub Victor Adeboyejo on the left saw Woodrow pick it up 30 yards out and – with the entirety of the Barnsley support willing him on – fire it over the bar.
Frieser sent a header spinning towards the near post from Brittain’s cross, which hit the side netting, then Jed Wallace fired over from the edge of the box after Bradshaw’s lay-off.
Some more good interplay between Adeboyejo, who held the ball up on the left, and Styles, who carried it forward, saw Brittain spurn a great chance.
He picked up Styles’ pass on the right but panicked in front of goal and sent the ball high and wide.
Barnsley will have rued their missed chances when Murray Wallace headed in from Jed Wallace’s corner with a minute left of the 90.