BARNSLEY remain on course for the play-offs but their job has been made much harder by a stoppage time equaliser from Colchester United.
The U’s, already relegated, netted a dramatic leveller eight minutes into stoppage time through Tom Lapslie.
By then, Colchester were down to ten men after goalkeeper Elliott Parish had been stretchered off - only adding to Barnsley’s frustration after a second half double from Ashley Fletcher had looked like being enough to clinch a precious three points.
It means Barnsley will head to Wigan Athletic next Sunday level on points with Scunthorpe United, who travel to Sheffield United, in the quest to snatch sixth place.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men received a big indication inside the first minute that Colchester did not intend to make things easy for their hosts.
George Moncur provided the reminder, jinking his way into the area before hitting a low shot that Adam Davies turned against the post.
It was a let-off for the home side but it took until the half-hour mark for a true response, as Sam Winnall brought a fine reflex save from Elliott Parish following a cross by Ashley Fletcher.
The U’s goalkeeper was at it again to deny the Reds from the resulting corner when he touched Marc Roberts’ header round the post.
Alfie Mawson was the next to go close with a downward header from a Conor Hourihane corner that bounced up and on to the crossbar.
Despite this flurry of chances for Barnsley, the visitors took the lead three minutes before the break through Moncur after fine work by Elliot Lee in midfield..
Barnsley needed a reply and it came 12 minutes into the second half through Ashley Fletcher. Collecting the ball 30 yards from goal, the striker nutmegged Tom Eastman before racing on to tuck the ball into the corner of the net.
That was the cue for the hosts to laye siege to the U’s goal as, first, Winnall had a shot blocked and then Hourihane dragged an effort wide.
Barnsley also had two penalty appeals turned down in quick succession and there certainly seemed a case when Lloyd Isgrove was knocked to the floor inside the six-yard box.
Roberts was the next to be denied, this time by a good save from Parish after Hourihane’s corner had created the chance.
A rare break from the U’s ended with Moncur curling a shot just over the crossbar before Barnsley also went close at the other end when Harry Chapman fired over.
The big moment came when Fletcher headed in from close range after Chapman’s effort at the back post had been kept out by Parish, who subsequently left the field on a stretcher.
With all three substitutes having been used, striker Macauley Bonne went in goal bit it was the visitors who grabbed a dramatic late goal when Lapslie headed in.
Paul Heckingbottom said: “I’ve spent the last few minutes trying to put it in perspective and that is it, we’re where we want to be.
“In that game, I was so up and down at times but there’s lots of plusses in there and individual good stuff. The energy and work-rate was there but there was also some really bad decision-making and poor quality at times.
“We have to be better going forward and it’s a game to learn from but putting it in perspective, we have a chance of the play-offs in the last game.
“We’d been preparing for what would be a tough game all week and knew they’d have opportunities against us and we’d have opportunities against them.
“When they had 10 men and the striker in goal was when they really had their only attack. We have to be better, brighter and more ruthless.
“When it’s 2-1, your decision making needs to be a bit different. We still had everybody back doing their jobs when they did get the goal but we were a bit lax and we got punished.”
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