THE sight of Daniel Stendel, the Barnsley head coach, jumping up and down, arms waving frantically as his captain Adam Davies collected a cross deep in home territory spoke volumes.
Oakwell had endured a frustrating evening, Burton Albion’s ability to stick to a game plan having seen the shackles placed on a Reds side who had gone into the contest on the back of six straight home wins.
Stendel’s animation on the touchline with ten minutes remaining were probably designed to spark his men into life.
His urgings failed, the Brewers comfortably seeing out the contest to become the first away team to keep a clean sheet on Barnsley soil since mid-August.
Nigel Clough’s men were full value for that rare shut-out. Not only were Burton impressively drilled, but, in Stephen Quinn, they had someone who seemed to know what the Barnsley attack was going to do before anyone in red.
The former Hull City and Sheffield United midfielder patrolled the area in front of his back four with such diligence that the home side had run out of ideas long before the end.
Barnsley’s stalemate in front of their own fans was aped by promotion rivals Portsmouth, held at Fratton Park to a 1-1 draw by Bristol Rovers.
But Sunderland’s victory over Gillingham means the Black Cats have moved to within four points of the Reds, the Wearside club also boasting a game in hand.
Everything points to this being a promotion race with plenty of twists and turns before the music stops on May 4. One of these is likely to come this weekend when Barnsley head to Portsmouth.
This meeting between two clubs relegated from the Championship last season had been scheduled to take place in September.
However, Stephen Croft, a long-standing volunteer at Barnsley, suffered a heart attack just minutes before the scheduled kick-off and the game had to be postponed as the emergency services battled to save his life.
Croft, now happily recovered, led the two teams out to a rapturous reception from the 11,778 crowd. He was joined by a host of family and friends, plus representatives of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who had played such a pivotal role in saving his life.
That Barnsley were unable to achieve lift-off last night was down to the diligence of the visitors. The concentration shown by Burton throughout was impressive and a big clue as to why Clough’s men are unbeaten in six games on the road in 2019.
Cauley Woodrow did bring a flying save from Bradley Collins in the first half with a fiercely-struck shot.
Jacob Brown also headed wide from a beautifully-flighted cross by Daniel Pinillos, but, otherwise, the opening 45 minutes were a frustrating affair for the hosts.
Typical of how things would just not go right for the Reds at key moments was how lovely play by Woodrow allowed Mike Bahre to advance towards the edge of the area.
Alex Mowatt was free to the German’s left and unmarked, but Bahre over-hit the pass, forcing the former Leeds United man too wide and the chance was gone.
Genuine gilt-edged opportunities proved equally hard to come by after the break.
Woodrow, so deadly in recent weeks, was picked out by an inviting left-wing cross from Ryan Hedges, but the former Fulham striker fired over.
Brown was also the beneficiary of another searching delivery from the same flank, Daniel Pinillos doing the honours this time.
But Burton once again scrambled back to keep out the forward’s header, Jake Buxton blocking the ball on the line.
Burton’s best spell came immediately after half-time. Liam Boyce fired just wide before Adam Davies had to get down smartly to deal with a Marcus Harness cross that turned into a shot as the ball fizzed across goal.
Boyce also went down in the home penalty area, but referee Martin Coy waved play on –much to the fury of Clough on the touchline.
Come the final whistle, however, and the Burton manager had the look of a man satisfied with his night’s work.
In contrast Barnsley counterpart Stendel headed down the touchline with a face betraying the knowledge that this had been an opportunity lost.
Barnsley: Davies; Cavare, Lindsay, Pinnock, Pinillos; Brown, Mowatt, McGeehan (Dougall 84), Hedges (Adeboyejo 73); Bahre (Thiam 62), Woodrow. Unused substitutes: Walton. Jackson, Styles, Williams.
Burton Albion: Collins; Brayford, McFadzean, Buxton, Daniel (Wallace 53); Allen, Quinn, Fraser; Harness (Hutchinson 80), Akins, Miller (Boyce 46). Unused substitutes: Bywater, Sbarra, Templeton, Bradley.
Referee: M Coy (County Durham).