CONOR HOURIHANE rescued a dramatic point for Barnsley with a last gasp equaliser that brought much needed relief for Lee Johnson.
The Reds midfielder struck deep into stoppage time with a thunderous shot that brought deserved reward for the hosts from an entertaining clash.
It also prevented Johnson’s men from slipping to a tenth defeat in 11 league outings on an afternoon when the hosts missed a penalty and twice struck the woodwork.
As for United, Chris Basham’s early strike looked to have earned a first win in six league outings only for Hourihane’s dramatic late intervention in front of a bumper derby crowd of 13,571.
Considering how badly out of form these two sides were ahead of kick-off, the game started in a surprisingly positive fashion.
United were behind much of this early energy, Billy Sharp setting the tone by closing down a home defender almost from the kick-off to force an early mistake.
Barnsley, too, carried a threat and should have gone ahead on 13 minutes when Sam Winnall got away down the flank before picking out Marley Watkins.
The Reds striker then scuffed his shot to allow George Long to save before Lloyd Isgrove made a hash of the follow-up.
It was a let-off for the Blades, who three minutes later took the lead as Basham rose high above a melee of players to nod in Bob Harris’ inviting corner.
Basham should have doubled the visitors advantage after the restart but could only side-foot his shot wide.
On the hour, the Reds had a golden opportunity level matters after Adam Hammill had been upended by a crude challenge from Neill Collins.
However, Conor Hourihane’s spotkick was saved brilliantly low to his right by Long.
Buoyed to still be ahead, Adkins’ men poured forward and Adam Davies had to get down smartly to keep out Sharp before Basham saw a shot blocked on the line.
Matty Done then brought a fine reflex save from Davies before Barnsley suffered further heartache when a Sam Winnall header crashed against the upright and to safety following excellent work out wide by Adam Hammill.
The home side’s luck was out again two minutes from time when Lewin Nyatanga’s looping header crashed against the top of the crossbar to signal defeat for Johnson’s men.
That appeared to be that until Hourihane struck from 20 yards deep into stoppage time to rescue a much needed point.
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