Barnsley manager Mark Robins said he would find it difficult to seek out any positives – despite an encouraging second-half performance – after witnessing his side's defeat at West Ham United.
The home side could have had the game wrapped up by the break after dominating the first half had Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele not produced four vital saves, three of them from Zavon Hines.
Jonathan Spector finally beat Steele but the Hammers then stopped playing after the interval and the second half was far more nervy for the Upton Park crowd than it should have been.
Frederic Piquionne's injury-time strike came moments after Barnsley's Adam Hammill saw his deflected shot loop onto the bar and bounce away.
"Make no mistake, we were second best in the first half but the second half was slightly different. It is symptomatic of our season, where we played well for 45 minutes," he said.
"It will be difficult to search for any positives. It could have been comprehensive. The positive was that we only conceded two goals and hit the crossbar."
West ham midfielder Mark Noble said his side's victory was exactly the boost they needed ahead of tomorrow's Carling Cup semi-final against Birmingham.
The Hammers have now won three and drawn two of their last six games and Noble is excited about the opportunity of taking the club back to Wembley for the first time in 30 years.
"A club like this should not be in this position, with the players we have got and the fanbase but we are and we have to dig ourselves out of it once again," said Noble said. "What happened midweek (losing 5-0 at Newcastle) was horrible, it was horrible to be involved with but we needed to put that in the back of our minds. Today could have been a massive banana skin but we came through it.
"We knew it was a terrible performance but there was no point dwelling on it. We needed to win the game today to get a bit of confidence for Tuesday and that is our main focus now.
"A semi-final gives you something to look forward to. We want to beat Birmingham over two legs and be at Wembley."
West Ham United: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Spector, Reid, Hines (Edgar 90), Noble, Barrera, Boa Morte, Nouble (Piquionne 83), Obinna (Parker 76). Unused substitutes: Boffin, Upson, Sears, Spence.
Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Shackell, Foster, Hill, Trippier (O'Brien 69), Doyle, Arismendi (Colace 77), Hammill, Lovre (Butterfield 56), O'Connor. Unused substitutes: Preece, Morales Neumann, Gray, Bennett.
Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).
Man of the match: Luke Steele.
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