JERMAINE EASTER'S first goal for Swansea City was enough to beat Barnsley and ended a three-match winless run for the home side who moved level on points with second-placed Cardiff.
It has been a disappointing Christmas period for Barnsley who have now lost both of their festive fixtures after a five-match unbeaten run and are down in 16th.
Easter, who completed an emergency deadline-day loan move from MK Dons, will have done his chances of earning a January switch to the Liberty Stadium no harm.
The Wales international's 27th-minute close-range finish from Nathan Dyer's cross proved the difference between the two sides and provided a much-needed victory for the Swans, who lost 4-0 at leaders QPR on Boxing Day.
They now head into 2011 in third place in the Championship, level on points with Cardiff and Leeds and with Norwich just one behind.
Stephen Dobbie tried his luck early on, drilling wide from 18 yards. That set the pattern for an opening spell in which the hosts dominated proceedings, Dyer forcing a parried save from Tykes goalkeeper Luke Steele.
Adam Hammill forced a save from Dorus de Vries at the other end before the Swans broke the deadlock. Dyer found enough space on the right side of the penalty area and picked out Easter from six yards who pounced to convert his first goal since August in his first start for the Welsh club.
Hammill blasted off target for the visitors before Easter and Dobbie likewise for the Swans.
Easter went close to scoring a second but saw his header from 12 yards rebound off the bar.
The second half started with a chance for Barnsley after just 58 seconds, Jim O'Brien testing the reflexes of De Vries.
Dobbie continued to pose a threat for Swansea and he almost grabbed the second goal the home side craved but Steele tipped his close-range shot around a post after 71 minutes.
It was De Vries's turn to next prove his worth, keeping out Goran Lovre's header and then Paul Hayes's'drive as Mark Robins's charges pushed for an equaliser.
De Vries then parried substitute Jacob Butterfield's 20-yard effort to safety in the fifth minute of stoppage time to ensure Swansea took the honours.
Robins said: "This was a game in which I wanted to try and play Swansea at their own (passing) game.
"We came off second best in the end, but that's the type of football our fans want to watch."
Swansea City: De Vries, Williams, Tate, Rangel, Taylor, Cotterill, Orlandi, Dyer, Gower (Pratley 69), Easter (Allen 63), Dobbie (Sinclair 80). Unused substitutes: Ma-Kalambay, Beattie, Monk, Agustien.
Barnsley: Steele, Shackell, Foster, Hassell, Trippier, Hammill, Doyle (Arismendi 65), O'Brien (Butterfield 71), Colace, Gray (Hayes 68), Lovre. Unused substitutes: Preece, Morales Neumann, Bennett, Hill.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).