Derby County 4 Barnsley 1: Reds condemned to relegation after Pride Park defeat
The Reds’ macth at Pride Park had finiszhed leaving Jose Morai and his players to wait and see if Nottingham Forest could equalise against Bolton Wanderers - a development that would have seen them stay up.
But the Trotters held on for a 3-2 win which sent Barnsley down along with Burton albion, whose 2-1 dwefeat at Preston saw their two-year stay in the second tier ended.
Cameron Jerome struck on the break to give Derby an advantage they never looked like losing and Matej Vydra’s 21st league goal of the season settled any home nerves.
David Nugent and Tom Lawrence completed Derby’s stroll in the sunshine and although George Moncur pulled one back, it was no consolation as Barnsley returned to League One.
Derby brought in Marcus Olsson at left wing-back and he created the first chance when he hit a 20-yard shot that forced Jack Walton into a flying save.
Barnsley’s response had Derby in trouble when Connor Mahoney sent a low ball across the face of the six-yard box but Kieffer Moore could not bring it under control at the back post.
Not long after, Derby took the lead. Mahoney lost the ball to Bradley Johnson near the left touchline and his pass sent Jerome clear to drive a shot into the roof of the net for a 14th-minute opener.
It was not the start a team that had lost their last five away games needed but Barnsley almost replied three minutes later when a Liam Lindsay glancing header went just wide with Scott Carson scrambling.
Derby thought they had a second in the 25th minute when Richard Keogh’s shot came back off the bar but referee Simon Hooper ruled Jerome handled the ball before he slammed in the rebound.
Olsson went off injured and was replaced in the 38th minute by top scorer Vydra who sent a free-kick from just outside the area over the bar but at half-time, Derby were heading into the play-offs and Barnsley were staying up.
The Rams began the second half intent on finishing the job with Johnson’s 20-yard shot turned behind by Walton before the midfielder played Jerome in but he shot wide under pressure.
Moore almost got his head on a cross but Derby scored again in the 55th minute when Jerome crossed from the right and Vydra beat Walton from six yards.
Barnsley went close again when Oliver McBurnie’s shot was deflected just wide but results elsewhere meant they were going down unless they could fashion a remarkable comeback.
However, any hope of that vanished when Nugent replaced Jerome and immediately headed in Vydra’s cross in the 68th minute before he ran through on the right and crossed for Lawrence to steer the ball wide of Walton.
Moncur replied with a curling effort from the edge of the area in the 81st minute but it proved to be no more than Barnsley’s parting shot to the Championship.