A look back at a year in which the Reds were regular winners, but suffered agony at Wembley before starting again.
The year started poorly for the Reds as they lost their first three matches, having finished 2022 in fourth place after winning six and drawing one of their last seven league games.
Head coach Michael Duff avoided a ban for his red card against Fleetwood Town as the EFL did not complete their investigation in time.
But he was angry with officials again as Mads Andersen was controversially sent off ten minutes into a 3-0 loss at home to Bolton Wanderers.
They were then defeated by the same scoreline at Derby County in the FA Cup, before losing 2-0 at Charlton Athletic where Robbie Cundy and Josh Benson came off injured and would barely play for the rest of the year.
The Reds netted their first three goals of the year in the first 19 minutes against Accrington Stanley through James Norwood’s overhead kick, Jack Aitchison’s only Oakwell goal and Jordan Williams who finished a superb move. The match finished 3-1 as the Reds conceded a fifth penalty in six games in injury-time.
Their trip to Exeter City was called off at very late notice when the squad and many fans had already reached Devon.
They played an intra-squad match, which was already scheduled, in front of fans and Matty Wolfe suffered a knee injury which ruled him out for the year.
Meanwhile, Barnsley were busy in the January window.
They brought in right wing-back Barry Cotter, for £20,000, striker Oli Shaw and midfielder Jon Russell on permanent deals.
They also loaned in goalkeeper Harry Isted from Luton, with Jack Walton leaving permanently in the other direction, striker Max Watters from Cardiff and centre-back Bobby Thomas as they used a brief release clause window in his loan from Burnley to Bristol Rovers to re-unite him with former coach Duff and replace the injured Tom Edwards.
That left them with six loan players so Josh Martin barely played for the rest of the season, as only five are allowed in matchday squads.
Will Hondermarck and Aitchison left permanently for Northampton and Motherwell.
Liam Kitching signed a new contract and the Reds also took up their options to extend the contracts of Mads Andersen, Williams and Brad Collins by a year.
The Reds won five of their six games in February, drawing the other.
Bobby Thomas and Nicky Cadden got their first goals for the club in a 2-1 win at Oxford.
They drew 1-1 at Portsmouth, with Kitching levelling late on after a Devante Cole goal was ruled out as the referee failed to play advantage.
Having been criticised by Duff for their quiet atmosphere at 3-0 up against Accrington in the previous home match, the Reds fans got behind their side after scorer Watters was sent off against Cambridge – helping the team to a 2-0 win. The support from the stands was then strong for the rest of the season.
Barnsley won 3-1 at Port Vale on Valentine’s Day with Luca Connell netting a long-range stunner in the first minute on a terrible pitch, before Duff’s old club Cheltenham were routed 4-0 thanks to screamers by Herbie Kane and Adam Phillips as well as fine team goals finished by Norwood and Williams.
They dedicated that win to long-serving staff member Beth Sefton who was seriously ill in hospital.
The Reds then faced a daunting series of games against their promotion rivals which looked set to make or break their season.
The first one was against Derby County who were blown away in a 4-1 defeat, with Cole’s brace – following an 11-game goalless streak – and a Phillips strike putting the hosts 3-1 up at the break before ex-Ram Luke Thomas completed the win late on having just returned from injury. That was played in front of 17,145 fans at Oakwell after the club pushed hard to attract extra supporters.
March was an incredible month for the Reds.
After drawing 0-0 at Bristol Rovers – their easiest game of the month on paper – they then won 3-1 at home to Portsmouth with the East Stand empty after some cladding was blown off by high winds and the staff had to hastily rehouse the supporters in the rest of the ground. There was more off-pitch work to get the next game on after heavy snow but the Reds were able to defeat high-flying Plymouth 3-0 in one of their best performances. Phillips continued his fine scoring run with shots from the edge of the box to open the scoring after an hour then Andersen headed home before Cadden’s free-kick sealed it.
They then won late on at Wycombe with Slobodan Tedic – who had come back from injury a ‘different animal’ according to Duff – heading home his first goal for the club late on to spark joy in the away end.
They hosted local rivals Sheffield Wednesday – who had not lost in 23 games across five months – in a sold-out derby. The Reds won a 4-2 thriller as, after Cole and Norwood put them 2-0 up on 12 minutes, the Owls levelled at 2-2 and had chances to lead before Watters made it 3-2 then Kitching ran from defence to score a fourth in injury-time and send the home fans into ecstasy.
That took Barnsley within eight points of leaders Plymouth, who had played two games more, but the Reds came back down to earth with a bump a week later as they were beaten 3-1 at Exeter – ending a 12-game unbeaten run including ten wins.
Barnsley recorded their biggest win of the season on April Fool’s Day, thrashing lowly Morecambe 5-0 with Cole bagging another brace plus an own goal and strikes by Kane and Bobby Thomas.
But their top two ambitions would suffer a cruel blow on Good Friday when Burton Albion captain John Brayford handled on his goal line but no penalty or red card was given. The Reds struggled to recover and lost 2-1.
They bounced back with a 2-1 win over Shrewsbury in a bad-tempered match which saw goal-scorer Cadden sent off, then won 5-1 at relegated Forest Green where they were given a first penalty of the league season which Phillips missed before scoring the rebound.
After a 0-0 draw at Lincoln, which secured a top six place, they won 2-0 at home to Oxford, with a Tedic double, which meant they had won nine games in a row at home for the first time in more than 100 years.
That run ended, as did their slim top two chances, with a 3-0 home loss to high-flying Ipswich. The Tractor Boys had controversially moved their trip to Oakwell from a month earlier due to international call-ups only for it to be revealed that Greg Leigh had not been included in the Jamaica squad. Ipswich scored twice at the end of the first half then, after Isted saved a penalty, ex-Red Conor Chaplin secured the win.
With nothing to play for, Barnsley made changes at relegation-battling MK Dons who came from behind to lead 4-1 before a remarkable comeback led by two-goal Watters led to a 4-4 draw.
May would be an epic but ultimately heart-breaking month for Barnsley.
They lost 2-0 at home to Peterborough in the last league game then faced Bolton Wanderers in the play-off semi-finals. Cadden put them in front in the away leg then, after the hosts levelled, Barnsley won 1-0 at Oakwell thanks to Kitching’s header – sparking a jubilant pitch invasion for the Wembley-bound supporters.
The win broke a club record for 32 victories in all competitions in a campaign.
With Barnsley taking on bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday in the final, tens of thousands of fans from South Yorkshire flocked to the national stadium in London for a Bank Holiday Monday fixture.
Seconds after a clear penalty on Kitching was not given, Phillips was controversially sent off for an opinion-splitting challenge after 50 minutes.
The Reds were the better side for the remainder of normal time with ten men then held on during extra-time, with Connell missing a golden chance before Josh Windass headed home seconds before a penalty shoot-out.
Barnsley were furious with the referee and, despite a heroic effort from players and staff, faced the prospect of another year in League One after the cruellest of defeats.
June would be a chaotic month at Oakwell, mainly due to the exit of Duff and assistant Martin Paterson to Championship club Swansea City.
That would lead to Luke Thomas and Isted turning down deals at Oakwell to join Bristol Rovers and Charlton respectively.
Barnsley took their option to extend Norwood’s contract for another season while offering Joe Ackroyd and Aiden Marsh new deals and releasing ten players including Clarke Oduor, Jack Butterfill, Jordan Helliwell and Jason Sraha.
They announced the signing of defender Kacper Lopata which had been agreed earlier in the year.
Jon Russell was part of the Jamaica squad that reached the Gold Cup semi-finals, scoring his first international goal in the group stage.
Barnsley appointed Neill Collins as head coach on July 6, less than a month before the start of the season.
He took charge of one more game with Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Championship before flying back to the UK with assistant Jon Stead.
It would be a hectic month as the Reds had to cancel two friendlies, due to Collins preferring to assess his players in training, while another at Fylde was abandoned due to a thunderstorm and another saw them lose 9-1 to Leeds United behind-closed-doors.
The Reds sold captain Andersen to Luton Town, Brad Collins to Coventry and Jasper Moon to Burton but began to bring in players with the arrivals of Ben Killip, Jack Shepherd, Liam Roberts, Watters, permanently after his loan, Andy Dallas, Corey O’Keeffe and Kyran Lofthouse. They were set to bring in Jesse Debrah but the deal fell through late on.
The final week before the new season began was dramatic as Norwood, who had scored four goals in pre-season after starring in the previous campaign, dropped down two divisions to sign for non-league Oldham Athletic 48 hours before the first game.
The Reds brought in French centre-back Mael de Gevigney.
They enjoyed their best ever opening day result and biggest victory for 72 years when they crushed Port Vale 7-0.
Cole netted a hat-trick with the other scorers being a Vale defender, Russell and two players who would leave the club that window in Dallas and Kitching.
The next four games proved much tougher as, after going out of the EFL Cup on penalties to Tranmere Rovers, they were poor in a 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers then beaten 3-1 at home by both Peterborough and Oxford.
Posh scored three goals in 11 minutes late on after falling behind to Cotter’s first Reds goal while the Oxford match was a nightmare full debut for de Gevigney who conceded an early penalty then was lucky not be sent off before being substituted on 37 minutes.
Barnsley finished the month with a 2-0 win at Wigan, who had a man sent off early before goals by Cole and new signing John McAtee.
The Reds turned down a bid from Italian club Lecce for teenager Fabio Jalo, loaned Shaw to Motherwell and brought defender Jamie McCart in on loan from Rotherham United.
The first day of September was deadline day which saw Kitching sold to Coventry City after months of speculation in a deal worth £4million.
Dallas was loaned out to Kilmarnock 38 days after signing a three-year deal while coming in were loanee left-back Owen Dodgson and striker Sam Cosgrove.
Barnsley won 2-0 at Cheltenham thanks to goals by Cole and Watters then by the same score at home to Grimsby in the EFL Trophy with debutant Dodgson netting and Conor McCarthy back in action after almost a year out with an injury.
A fourth successive 2-0 win was secured at home to Burton thanks to a brace by the in-form Cole but they went 3-0 down after 16 minutes at home to Portsmouth before losing 3-2.
Callum Styles – back after a loan to Millwall – scored against Pompey then netted from long-range at Northampton following a goalkeeper error to set the Reds on their way to a 2-1 win.
The Reds then beat Manchester City under 21s 3-1 to reach the EFL Trophy knock-outs, with a debut goal for 17-year-old Emmaisa Nzondo.
But they were poor in a 1-0 defeat to Blackpool in the league – another home loss to a potential promotion rival.
Teenager Theo Chapman was given his first start in that game but was taken off at half-time before being loaned to non-league Farsley Celtic.
October was a good month for the Reds who went through it unbeaten, winning three games and drawing two.
It started with a 4-0 success at Cambridge, with goals by Cadden, de Gevigney, Watters and Russell.
McAtee netted a late winner at Exeter then they missed out on a club record sixth straight away win as they drew 1-1 at Leyton Orient with Kane’s screamer cancelling out a controversial penalty.
Shrewsbury were seen off 3-0 at Oakwell with Kane netting the first league penalty there for the Reds in 592 days. Goalkeeper Roberts, who had impressed while making the most saves in the EFL in the first two months of the season, got injured and replaced by Killip during a run in which the Reds improved defensively with no goals from open play in five games.
But they conceded twice in the first half to lowly Fleetwood, netting levellers through Cole – who appeared to take the ball from Kane before missing a penalty but scoring a rebound – and substitute O’Keeffe with his first Reds goal.
Those were the first league equalisers at Oakwell by Barnsley for almost two years.
The cup ties against seventh-tier part-timers Horsham dominated this month. After an embarrassing 3-3 draw at Oakwell, the Reds won 3-0 in Sussex in a televised game. But they were ejected from the FA Cup for fielding Aiden Marsh who had been out on loan for the original game.
The Reds lost several players to international call-ups, with Styles helping Hungary to Euro 2024 qualification, Cole and Russell called up for Jamaica – although Cole was not thought to be cleared to play – and young strikers Jalo and Josiah Dyer with Portugal under 19s and Montserrat respectively. They were missing from the Horsham replay, but the league game with Carlisle was called off. A very young Reds team was thrashed 5-1 at Bradford in the trophy with Shepherd – who had done well in earlier league games – sent off.
After conceding a late leveller in a 2-2 draw at Lincoln, Cosgrove netted his first goal in bizarre fashion, pictured right, when he bumped into the Wycombe goalkeeper in injury-time who dropped the ball for the striker to tap in for 1-0.
Chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad left the club in mid-December for Minnesota United, with Jon Flatman replacing him and Reds legend Bobby Hassell becoming the newly-created director of football – both on a temporary basis.
They crashed out of the EFL Trophy with a loss at Blackpool but then won in the league 3-1 at Reading – their first comeback victory in 766 days.
They drew 1-1 at home to Charlton, with Phillips netting his first goal of the season, then won 2-1 at home to Stevenage, finally beating a fellow top ten side. Boxing Day saw a 3-2 win at Port Vale.
They drew 2-2 at Peterborough United in their last game of the year, finishing seventh - a point off the top six.
They played 58 games this year which is the most since 1961. They have won 30, drawn 12 and lost 16.