Bristol City climbed off the foot of the npower Championship table with a vital win over in-form Barnsley in an eight-goal thriller dominated by the hosts.
Barnsley, who themselves occupied bottom spot at the start of the year, saw their impressive six-match unbeaten run in the league under David Flitcroft come to an abrupt halt.
Jon Stead struck in either half, Liam Fontaine hit his first goal since April 2010, and Lewin Nyatanga and Steven Davis also got in on the act to hand the Robins their first win in three matches and move them to within three points of Barnsley, who sit one place above the drop zone.
The visitors responded with Chris O’Grady’s first goal since joining on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, and further strikes from substitutes Tomasz Cywka and Jason Scotland.
It was Manchester United loanee and Barnsley debutant Ryan Tunnicliffe who threatened first with a powerful shot inside the opening five minutes but Tom Heaton clawed it away.
Stead had already seen his header from strike partner Davies’ cross clear the bar when he raced clear, only to be denied by a superb recovering challenge from Stephen Foster.
Flitcroft’s side created the next opening when Marlon Harewood was afforded space and time to pick out Rory Delap but his shot from the edge of the box was tipped wide by Heaton.
The hosts seized the advantage after 16 minutes when Paul Anderson’s left-wing corner was flicked on by Marvin Elliott and Stead added the final touch with his head.
Barnsley tried to respond immediately and Tom Kennedy’s free-kick presented Chris Dagnall with the opportunity to get a header on target but Heaton was equal to the challenge.
Stead almost turned provider when he found Davies at the far post but Jimmy McNulty did enough to put him off as he shaped to shoot.
Heaton pulled off an incredible save to deny Martin Cranie an equaliser when the Reds defender powered a close-range header at goal with 27 minutes gone.
Soon after, the Robins doubled their lead. Brendan Moloney provided the cross and Fontaine was the unlikely scorer from six yards out.
Just seven minutes into the second half, Sean O’Driscoll’s men all but put the game to bed when Fontaine headed Davies’ cross into the path of Stead and he doubled his personal tally.
They added a fourth for good measure three minutes later, Nyatanga profiting from slack defending to head in from inside the six-yard box.
O’Grady stabbed in after a goalmouth scramble to reduce the deficit before the hour-mark but Barnsley’s flicker of hope appeared to fade when Davies intercepted David Perkins’ poor pass to slot past Luke Steele.
Cywka, introduced from the bench just after the hour, volleyed in from the edge of the box with eight minutes left and Scotland fired in from long range to round off the scoring in stoppage time.
Barnsley manager David Flitcroft admitted he was shocked by the manner the Tykes’ good form had come to such an abrupt halt.
He said: “I knew our great run had to end somewhere, but the way it ended surprised me.
“The goals we conceded were very poor.
“We couldn’t defend set-pieces and it is back to the training ground in that respect. And we couldn’t handle City’s strikers.
“Jon Stead and Steven Davies out-muscled us for most of the game. But we will dust ourselves down and come again.
“I have an honest bunch of players and they still showed great spirit after going 5-1 down so I’m sure this will just prove an off-day.”