BARNSLEY’S bid to capture a play-off place looks over, leaving head coach Paul Heckingbottom in sombre mood.
They are 11 points adrift of sixth place after Derby came from behind to defeat the Reds at Pride Park.
David Nugent scored his first Derby goal following his January move from Middlesbrough after Tom Ince had cancelled out Matty James’s header.
The game did not get going until the second half when a long throw from Marc Roberts was headed powerfully past Scott Carson by James in the 52nd minute.
Barnsley’s lead lasted only two minutes as Cyrus Christie played the ball in from the right and Ince lashed a right-footed shot past Adam Davies.
The game became stretched, with Ince going close twice before Johnny Russell had a 25-yard shot turned over by Davies before the Rams found a winner in the 76th minute.
Barnsley had lived dangerously around their own area at times and, when a poor clearance was helped on by Matej Vydra, Nugent drove a low shot past Davies from 15 yards.
Heckingbottom described his mood as “dejected”.
He added: “I probably know my team better than anyone, the players are an honest bunch and they are disappointed with the two goals we have conceded.
“I’m disappointed with a few performances in that we weren’t positive enough and didn’t have a big enough effect on the game to make us win it.
“If you think you are conceding sloppy goals and some of your players aren’t at their best, the fact we’ve lost 2-1 and could have got something out of the game shows how far we’ve come.
“When I watch it back I’ll get a better picture, so maybe I’m being a bit hard on them at the minute, but that’s how I feel.
“I’m generally not bad at getting the result in perspective, good or bad, but I feel a bit thrown today from the feedback I’m getting from other people and how I feel about the game.”
It was Derby’s first victory in seven games and coach Steve McClaren said: “It’s a big win for us and I have to say it was fantastic character from 1-0 down from a long throw and everyone could have gone down.
“It was important to react quickly which we did and then it was quite an open game, but we got the goal and then hung on at the end.
“It’s a big three points in terms of reaction. We said we’ve just lost two in a row for the first time since I’ve come back, we do not make it three and the players have done well to make sure of that.”
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Baird, Pearce, Olsson, Russell (Hughes 79), de Sart (Butterfield 46), Johnson, Vydra (Anya 84), Ince, Nugent. Unused substitutes: Bryson, Camara, Mitchell, Bennett.
Barnsley: Davies, Jones, Roberts, MacDonald, Yiadom, Watkins, Scowen (Lee 87), James, Hammill, Bradshaw (Kent 75), Armstrong (Mowatt 75). Unused substitutes: Moncur, Townsend, Adam Jackson, Elder.
Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire).