MANCHESTER United loanee Ben Pearson scored his first career goal in his second appearance for Barnsley to help them move four points clear of the drop zone with at least one game in hand on the seven clubs below them.
The 20-year-old midfielder scored the Reds’ second in the 46th minute with a deflected left-foot strike.
It came after Vale goalkeeper Chris Neal had fumbled the ball into his own net to hand the Tykes the lead just before the break.
Colin Daniel hit back in the 66th minute before Pearson cleared off the line from Tom Pope, a target of the Reds, who was making his comeback after a long-term knee injury.
Barnsley manager Danny Wilson, who had made four changes to his starting line-up following the comprehensive defeat at MK Dons, admitted: “We were a bit nervy at times, and in the first half in particular. There were times when we had time to play when we got a bit edgy and some of the passing was a bit slow. That just gave people a chance to close us down and put us under pressure.
“We got a good goal straight away in the second half which always helps and we saw it through.”
Wilson had brought in Martin Cranie, Peter Ramage, Dale Jennings and Kane Hemmings with youngsters George Smith and Alex Kiwomya dropped to the bench and George Williams and Luke Berry out of the squad after taking just three points from four games.
Barnsley: Turnbull, Cranie, Ramage, Mvoto, Nyatanga, Pearson; Hourihane, Jennings (Digby 90), Lalkovic (Scowen 70), Waring; Hemmings (Winnall 83). Unused substitutes: Davies, Smith, Lita, Kiwomya.
Port Vale: Neal, Yates, Robertson, Veseli, Dickinson, Marshall, Lines; O’Connor, Daniel, Pope, Williamson (Birchall 33). O’Connor. Unused substitutes: McGivern, Duffy, Johnson, Brown, Moore, Lloyd.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).
Man of the match: Ben Pearson.