Darius Henderson’s late winner gave Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies something to enjoy from the directors’ box as he served a one-match touchline ban.
The Reds boss was absent from the sideline as a result of an angry confrontation with referee Craig Pawson at Wigan but saw his side show their character to claim a valuable three points against the struggling Tykes who pushed them all the way.
A Chris O’Grady penalty had cancelled out Simon Cox’s opening goal and a storming free-kick from sub Tomasz Cywka pulled Barnsley level for a second time, following a Kelvin Etuhu own goal - before Henderson had the last word.
Barnsley boss David Flitcroft felt his side were unlucky not to collect their first away point of the season.
“It was an open encounter and I was happy with how my team tried to create chances. But I am disappointed that we did not take a point,” he said.
“We did not deserve to win the game, they had a lot of good chances and (goalkeeper) Mike Pollitt was in excellent form.
“But the penalty was deserved and, if you see a better goal than the one from Cywka today, I would be surprised.
“I wanted the lads to dig in for one more moment. But they didn’t. We have not got anything from today, but I am happy that we only have a few days until we play again (at Bournemouth).”