In danger of being cut adrift at the foot of the Championship less than a month ago, a third win in five matches for Barnsley saw them climb off the bottom of the table.
The Reds had tasted victory just once in 18 attempts prior to Gerhard Struber’s arrival at Oakwell, however the Austrian has breathed new life into the club’s battle to avoid an immediate return to League One.
Having put five past QPR last time out, Patrick Schmidt’s last-gasp header earned the South Yorkshiremen a 2-1 win over Millwall at the Den on Saturday, lifting them two places to 22nd and just a single point shy of safety.
“For us it’s a very, very important victory, it’s good for our soul, for our mind and for our self-confidence,” Struber reflected.
“We created a very good second half. In the first half we had some problems on the ball, our positioning was not clear and we gave away simple balls.
“But on the counter-attack we are very efficient. After the equaliser, we had the mentality to win and this is a special moment for me, for my team, the whole club.
On the counter-attack we are very efficient. After the equaliser, we had the mentality to win and this is a special moment for me, for my team, the whole club.Gerhard Struber
“We didn’t play like a relegation-threatened team, we played very well. I hope we can follow that up on Boxing Day - for now, we’ll have a merry Christmas!”.
Millwall had dominated the early stages but couldn’t create clear-cut chances against a resolute Tykes defence.
Barnsley began to grow in confidence as the first half went on but it was still firmly against the run of play when they took the lead - in fact it was from their very first shot of any description.
But it was well worth the wait as Chaplin beautifully diverting Jacob Brown’s cross over Bartosz Bialkowski and into the far corner.
It took until almost the hour-mark for Millwall to threaten a response. Centre-half Jake Cooper, who twice missed half-chances with the game still goalless, again went close from a corner, diverting Shane Ferguson’s delivery into the ground and then up and over the bar. Tom Bradshaw then turned Jed Wallace’s driven cross just over the bar.
Still they failed to test Samuel Radlinger with a single shot on target until the final five minutes, when substitutes Matt Smith and O’Brien combined to level the scores - the latter nodding in the former’s initial header from close range.
That ought to have been enough to earn the hosts a point they had scarcely deserved, but they failed to clear a late corner and Schmidt found the space to head home what proved to be a dramatic winner.
Millwall: Bialkowski, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Ferguson, Wallace, Molumby, Williams, Skalak (O’Brien 60), Bradshaw (Mahoney 72), Bödvarsson (Smith 60). Unused substitutes: McCarthy, Steele, Brown, Mitchell. Barnsley: Radlinger, Williams, Diaby, Andersen, Oduor, Halme, Bähre (Thomas 72), Mowatt, Woodrow (Schmidt 84), Chaplin, Brown. Unused substitutes: Ben Williams, Styles, Sibbick, Collins.