Barnsley chief Paul Heckingbottom is refusing to set a target for his players as they find themselves six points shy of the play-offs.
After a dramatic victory in Wales – just their fourth in 15 – he said: “We don’t set aims. If you set a goal you’re limiting yourself and we just want to win as many games as we can.
“It’s reflected in games like that. We’ve got a group of players who have responded to that over the past year or so. We know we won’t win them all, but we’ll try.
“I’ve had some big games in the short time I’ve been doing it. But in terms of the scoreline and nature of the game, it’s probably the most dramatic game I’ve been involved in.
“It will be a good one for the fans to watch back, maybe not for us coaches.”
Cardiff chief Neil Warnock warned his patience had reached its limit and vowed to make changes after his side’s defeat.
Two late goals from Peter Whittingham and Anthony Pilkington looked to have grabbed a dramatic draw for the hosts but substitute Ryan Williams’s first goal in over two years won it for Barnsley in stoppage-time.
The Reds took a two-goal lead into half-time after Sam Winnall’s double and Josh Scowen cancelled out Sean Morrison’s early header.
Warnock’s men could have grabbed the seventh goal, but Rickie Lambert sliced wide from close range before Williams proved more clinical at the other end scoring with his first touch after a cut-back from fellow substitute Marley Watkins.
Warnock said: “It was an exciting game for the neutral – on how not to defend! I’m disappointed with every goal. They were elementary errors.
“I’ve persevered for a few weeks but I’ve got to change it. I’ve had enough now, I have to be critical when I look at the goals.”
With Cardiff trailing 2-1 in the first half, they were denied a penalty for what looked like a clear handball by Scowen as referee Tony Harrington waved away the appeals.
Just seconds later, Barnsley made it 3-1 after a rapid counter-attacking move saw Winnall net his ninth goal of the season.
Cardiff had 22 shots on Barnsley’s goal, and Warnock was also astonished by some of the misses.
Cardiff City: Amos, Connolly, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Peltier, Noone (Harris 63), Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Hoilett (Lambert 75), Pilkington, Zohore. Unused substitutes: Bennett, Ralls, Immers, O’Keefe, Wilson.
Barnsley: Davies, Bree, Roberts, MacDonald, Yiadom, Scowen, Hourihane, Morsy, Kent (Watkins 77), Winnall, Bradshaw (Williams 90). Unused substitutes: Townsend, Evans, Jackson, Kpekawa, Payne.
Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).