Barnsley suffered a fifth successive loss as they went down 2-0 at Middlesbrough on Wednesday following a very disappointing performance.
The hosts netted midway through the first half then missed a series of chances before adding another late on.
Markus Schopp's side missed a couple of good chances but were clearly second best as their winless run stretched to 11 games and they slipped to second-bottom with eight points from 13 matches.
Will Hondermarck made his first Barnsley start in place of the benched Romal Palmer while Callum Styles returned from injury to replace Toby Sibbick who was left out of the squad. Clarke Oduor replaced Victor Adeboyejo, while Obbi Oulare was on the bench and came on for his debut late on.
Hondermarck – usually a midfielder – started on the right of the back three, with Styles playing alongside Claudio Gomes in central midfield.
Barnsley should have taken the lead in the fifth minute when Sol Bamba gifted Oduor the ball and he went clean through on goal but hit the outside of the left post.
The hosts then dominated the remainder of the first half, penning Barnsley in and creating a succession of chances.
Andraz Sporar forced Brad Collins to dive to his left to gather his 15-yard effort from the left of the penalty after after a good counter-attack by the hosts.
Collins then denied Marcus Tavernier from a tight angle on the right of the box after the visiting defence was caught out by a fine Matt Crooks pass.
That resulted in two successive corners, the second of which was cleared to Paddy McNair who crossed from the left and Sporar jumped above the much smaller Styles to head into the bottom right corner about eight yards out.
Boro were then well on top, cutting open the passive Reds team regularly. Duncan Watmore cut in from the left but saw a central 15-yard effort beaten away by Collins.
It was nearly 2-0 minutes before the break but Hondermarck cleared almost off the line from Johnny Howson after a right-wing corner fell to him.
The Reds walked off lucky to be only 1-0 down after probably their worst first half of the season.
Barnsley switched to 3-5-2 at the break, with Hondermarck moving into midfield and Williams dropping to the left of the back three. Oduor moved to left wing-back with Aaron Leya Iseka and Cauley oodrow up front.
Boro's Martin Payero hit a very powerful 20-yard effort straight at Collins who pushed it away then Tavernier curled wide of the top left corner from 15 yards after good work by Watmore and Sporar.
Barnsley had their first shots on target in the 53rd minute as Woodrow's 20-yard effort was spilled by goalkeeper Joe Lumley who then denied Callum Brittain from point-blank range before Iseka fired over.
Watmore produced an extraordinary miss in the 59th minute when two home players went clean through with only Collins to beat and Payero squared to him only for the seven-yard shot to be blazed over with the goal gaping. Watmore then tried an overhead kick but the ball floated to Collins who caught it.
Substitute Adeboyejo was denied by a Lumley blocked at a very tight angle on the left then set up Woodrow who shot over from the edge of the box.
The hosts made it 2-0 late on when a left-wing free-kick was headed across goal by McNair for Crooks to rise above Jasper Moon and head in.
Barnsley (3-4-3): Collins; Hondermarck (Oulare 76), Helik, Moon; Brittain, Gomes, Styles (Palmer 62mins), J Williams; Iseka (Adeboyejo 71), Woodrow, Oduor.
Unused: Walton, B Williams, Vita, Frieser.
Yellow cards: Moon.
Middlesbrough (3-4-3): Lumley; Howson, Bamba, McNair, Peltier; Tavernier, Payero, Crooks (Siliki 90mins), Jones; Watmore (Hernandez 86), Sporar (Ikpeazu 65).
Yellow cards: Peltier.
Unused: Daniels, Olusanya, Kokolo, Coburn.
Goals: Sporar 20, Crooks 87.
  • 7:48pm
    Will Hondermarck is playing right centre-back. Jordan Williams left wing-back with Styles and Gomes in the middle
  • 7:50pm
    It's a big call to play a central midfielder making their first Championship appearance out of position in the back three
  • 7:51pm
    5 Massive early chance for the reds. Oduor goes clean through after a bad Bamba error but hits the outside of the left post
  • 7:55pm
    That was such a big chance for the Reds, who have started well but can't afford to keep being wasteful
  • 7:58pm
    12 Boro's first chance. After a good counter-attack. Andraz Sporar is played in on the right of the box. His 14-yard shot from the left of the box is saved by Collins who dives to his left and gathers
  • 8:00pm
    The Reds look pretty confident on the ball and are passing it around nicely at the moment. Can they find a way through the home backline, who cannot be expected to give them the ball again like for Oduor's early chance
  • 8:03pm
    17 Marcus Tavernier slices well wide from just outside the box after a Sporar cross is half-cleared
  • 8:04pm
    18 Barnsley's defenders Moon and Williams totally caught out by a clever Matt Crooks pass to Tavernier on the right wing, her cuts inside in the box at a tight angle and his shot hits Collins and goes behind for a corner
  • 8:05pm
    Andraz Sporar heads in the opener
  • 8:08pm
    Corner cleared but McNair puts it back in and Sporar heads home. Another sucker punch for the Reds after a pretty bright start and that early Oduor miss. Same old story
  • 8:09pm
    That goal has rocked the Reds, who now look very open at the back with Boro nearly going through on goal twice in the last two minutes before the ball is scrambled clear
  • 8:12pm
    All Boro still. If they have a bit of composure, they will easily score again against a Barnsley side that seems to be rocking at the moment
  • 8:16pm
    Half an hour gone, Since that early Oduor chance it's been all Boro, they have one goal and could have had a few more.
  • 8:16pm
    Barnsley look very passive, just sitting off their hosts who are passing through them easily
  • 8:17pm
    31 Duncan Watmore cuts in from the left but shoots straight at Collins 15 yards out and it is palmed away
  • 8:20pm
    Ten minutes until the break, which Barnsley will be desperate for to reassess and escape at just 1-0
  • 8:23pm
    37 Corner to Boro on the left. Payero takes and it goes over everyone
  • 8:27pm
    41 Helik loses the ball near halfway, Boro break and Watmore's shot is blocked over the bar by Hondermarck
  • 8:27pm
    41 A corner from the right falls to Howson whose shot is cleared pretty much off the line by Hondermarck
  • 8:32pm
    HALF-TIME: Boro 1, Barnsley 0. Clarke Oduor missed a massive early chance but, since then, the hosts have been well on top, missing some good chances and they should be further ahead.
  • 8:48pm
  • 8:51pm
    Looks like Barnsley have gone to 3-5-2. Williams replacing Hondermarck, who has gone into middle, in the back three. Oduor LWB. Iseka and Woodrow up front. But, to be honest, it's pretty hard to tell.
  • 8:53pm
    Iseka gifted the ball on halfway and breaks into the box but Bamba makes a superb tackle
  • 8:55pm
    52 Martin Payero lets fly from just outside the box, it's powerful but straight at Collins who beats it away
  • 8:57pm
    53 Barnsley have their first shots on target. Woodrow's 20-yard effort is spilled by the goalkeeper who then denies Brittain from very close range and Iseka shoots over
  • 9:00pm
    57 Tavernier curls wide of the top left corner 15 yards out after a fine ball from Watmore to Sporar who pulls it back
  • 9:01pm
    Barnsley have been much more competitive in this half. The hosts should be well-clear but, while it stays 1-0, Barnsley have a chance
  • 9:02pm
    59 An incredible miss by Duncan Watmore who shoots over the bar seven yards out with the goal gaping after two home players went one-on-one with Collins. Still only 1-0.
  • 9:04pm
    Styles replaced by Palmer
  • 9:05pm
    Styles was poor tonight. He is yet to show the same level at central midfield as he does on the left, albeit with far less opportunity so far
  • 9:07pm
    Uche Ikpeazu replaces scorer Sporar
  • 9:08pm
    66 Watmore tries an acrobatic overhead kick but the ball floats to Collins
  • 9:11pm
    2/3 through this game. The hosts have missed a plethora of chances but Barnsley are only 1-0 down. The Reds do look incredibly easy to pass and run through at the back though.
  • 9:14pm
    Victor Adeboyejo replaces Iseka
  • 9:15pm
    Oulare is warming up
  • 9:17pm
    74 Oduor plays in Adeboyejo on the left of the box and he is denied by a block by goalkeeper Lumley. At a very tight angle and I am not sure it was going in
  • 9:18pm
    Obbi Oulare is coming on for his debut
  • 9:19pm
    Oulare on for Hondermarck
  • 9:21pm
    Back to 3-4-3 with Oulare flanked by Woodrow and Adeboyejo in a front three
  • 9:22pm
    Barnsley are still fighting here. Oulare's introduction and a few headers and tackles by him has woken the away crowd up
  • 9:24pm
    Into the final ten minutes now. This would be a real smash and brag if Barnsley level following all Boro's chances but it could be very important for their season
  • 9:25pm
    All in all, it has been a bit of a mess tonight. Lots of changes in formation and players being moved in and out positions - it smacks of a manager desperately trying to find answers and, so far, failing
  • 9:26pm
    82 Chance for a leveller, but not a easy one. Adeboyejo touches the ball to Woodrow who shoots under pressure on the edge of the box and puts it over
  • 9:28pm
    Watmore replaced by Onel Hernandez
  • 9:29pm
    Jasper Moon booked for sliding in and ending a Boro break. It looked as though he won the ball
  • 9:30pm
    Matt Crooks doubles the lead and almost certainly condemns Barnsley to a fifth straight defeat
  • 9:32pm
    Another set piece goal. McNair wins a header then Crooks rises above Moon to nod in.
  • 9:34pm
    Four added minutes
  • 9:37pm
    FULL-TIME: Middlesbrough 2, Barnsley 0. The Reds slip to a fifth straight defeat after a poor performance