PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM criticised winger Adam Hammill and his side’s concentration in defence after his Barnsley side slipped to a sixth game without a win in the Championship.
Dwight Gayle scored twice in the second half to send Newcastle to the top of the table and drop Barnsley down to 14th.
The Reds had enjoyed the better of the first half with skipper Conor Hourihane and James Bree firing efforts inches wide as Newcastle’s lively start petered out.
Gayle had the visitors’ best chances, back-heeling one effort over the crossbar before smashing Newcastle ahead from close range in the 48th minute.
The former Crystal Palace forward added his second to seal victory 20 minutes later, rushing on to Ritchie’s pass and lobbing onrushing Reds goalkeeper Adam Davies from 25 yards.
“We worked our socks off, went toe-to-toe with the top of the league and two lapses in concentration cost us the game and they gave us absolutely nothing,” said a frustrated Heckingbottom.
“Dwight Gayle was the difference and that’s what they paid all that money for.
“On another day we might have got something from the game. It was much better tonight, but we’ve got to keep improving and aim higher.”
Heckingbottom had heated words with Hammill after substituting him late in the game and admitted he was not happy with the winger’s attitude.
“It’s not about him, it’s a team game,” he said.
“Showing a lack of respect to his team-mates is not on. He is frustrated, but I had a big problem with him not showing the lads respect.”
Gayle earned the praise of boss Rafael Benitez after his second-half brace earned Newcastle a 2-0 win at Barnsley and sent them to the top of the Sky Bet Championship.
Gayle took his tally for the season to 11 and secured the Magpies a fifth away win of the campaign in front of nearly 6,000 travelling fans.
The striker’s contribution pleased his manager, who said: “When you have players as clinical as Dwight, you will score goals.
“The team played well and created chances. His job is to be there, fighting with the centre-back and try to score if he gets a chance. He is on fire now, he is happy and we’re all happy.
“I made it our priority in the summer to get him and Matt Ritchie to the club.”