IT was an afternoon of firsts as Barnsley recorded their first back-to-back wins of the season with a 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough thanks to Amine Bassi’s first, and second, goals for the club.
The Reds came into the fixture bottom, nine points off safety, and looking to string together two wins on the bounce, to collect nine points from their last four games.
Boro were seventh in the table, a point outside the top six and six off the top two, but fell one place.
It was a lacklustre first half for the away side which Barnsley, high in confidence but still languishing low in the table, took full advantage of with an early bombardment.
Boro have not won any of their last six league games at Oakwell since a 3-1 success in August 2011, losing four before today’s defeat.
Callum Styles produced the Reds’ first effort five minutes in but his volley was blocked, and Carlton Morris picked up the rebound but Joe Lumley was equal to his strike.
The opener came three minutes later, Mads Andersen netting his first league goal with a header from a pinpoint Amine Bassi cross following a corner.
Marcus Tavernier looked to level in the 15th minute, after cutting inside from the right and skipping past a couple of challenges, but his shot was tame and caught by Brad Collins.
Amine Bassi turned scorer a minute later, a fine left-footed strike which wrong-footed Lumley after Carlton Morris laid the ball off – the impressive midfielder’s first Barnsley goal and a deserved one.
A vibrant start saw the Reds playing as well as they have done this season, but towards the end of the first half they also showed they can dig in – Domingos Quina, Claudio Gomes and Matty Wolfe doing a great job of screening in front of the back three of Michal Helik, Mads Andersen and Jordan Williams who was making his 100th appearance.
The vocal visiting fans – 5,000 of them – called for a penalty in the 34th minute as Duncan Watmore went to ground after teeing up a shot in the penalty box, but other than that they didn’t have a lot to shout about.
A minute later Dael Fry nearly turned into his own net clearing a Jordan Williams cross from the right, before his side broke from the resulting corner and Watmore again went sprawling – but from some good work by Andersen to marshal the ball back to Collins.
Isaiah Jones blazed over from close range as Neil Taylor crossed to the back post – Boro’s first good chance of the half immediately followed by the referee’s whistle.
Bassi’s eyes lit up early in the second half, Quina dribbling down the right and sending a crossfield ball his way – but the Moroccan could only fire wide from the far post.
Styles tested Lumley a minute later, another Morris lay-off teeing him up for a long-range strike from the right channel.
Two changes at half-time saw Boro boss Chris Wilder field a refreshed front line of Folarin Balogun and Aaron Connolly, his preferred strike partnership.
Five minutes in, the two combined and Balogun saw his close-range effort cannon off the left upright as the side mounted a push for a comeback.
But the pressure didn’t lead to anything for a side who had only failed to score once in their last ten games, and Bassi took advantage of some slack defending to hold off Anfernee Dijksteel and send the ball trickling past Lumley for his second of the afternoon.
The visitors grabbed a goal back from the penalty spot, an admittedly soft looking decision as Jones fell while being pressured by Remy Vita on the hour mark.
A hectic few minutes followed as Boro looked to capitalise on their momentum, Connolly netting from Collins' right but the linesman on the opposite side raising his flag on 67 minutes, then Tavernier trying an audacious effort from a dead ball on the right seven minutes later which Collins could only palm away.
A couple of defensively-minded substitutions – Callum Brittain for Bassi and Liam Kitching for Vita – saw the home side grind out a tough final 15 minutes in which Balogun hit the post again and Collins had to be at his best on several occasions.
The last action of the game saw Dael Fry net in confusion fashion to score his side’s second in the dying minutes, but it was far too late to worry the Reds too much.