BARNSLEY are just four points above the drop zone after life without sacked manager Danny Wilson began with a humbling defeat at third-bottom Crawley.
Shambolic defending cost managerless Barnsley dearly as they were embarrassed by a side who had conceded five goals themselves in midweek to Doncaster Rovers.
Crawley, with just one victory in 16 games, roared to an easy win at the Broadfield Stadium and Mark Burton, in temporary charge of the Reds with Paul Heckingbottom, was deflated.
“I’m absolutely devastated with the result. I didn’t see it coming, to be honest,” he said.
“I thought we were well on top in the first 30 minutes. We restricted them to nothing and then we conceded just before half-time and we just collapsed.”
Barnsley found themselves three behind by the hour mark as Crawley struck through Izale McLeod, Sonny Bradley and Marvin Elliott, but the Reds at least gave themselves a lifeline with a goal in the 65th minute.
Substitutes Rhys Oates and Kane Hemmings combined to make it 3-1, with the latter nodding home his fifth goal of the season.
Another calamitous episode, however, led to a fourth Crawley goal. Central defender Lewin Nyatanga failed to control and allowed McLeod coolly to slot home his second before he completed his hat-trick seven minutes from time after being teed up by Lewis Young. Barnsley are to refund the ticket price for fans who went to Crawley.
Crawley Town: Price, Dickson, Bradley, Ward, Fowler (Smith 79); Young, Elliott, Edwards, Wordsworth (Morgan 77), Pogba (Tomlin 59); McLeod. Unused substitutes: Anderson, Bawling, Dutton.
Barnsley: Turnbull, Smith (Oates 61), Nyatanga, Cranie, Lalkovic; Scowen, Hourihane, Pearson, Holgate, Lita (Hemmings 61); Waring (Mvoto 61). Unused substitutes: Berry, Davies, George Williams, Bailey.
Referee: D Sheldrake (Surrey).
Man of the match: Izale McLeod.