Preston North End 2 Barnsley 1: Tykes unable to spoil Ryan Lowe's first game at Deepdale
Daniel Johnson scored a late winner to condemn the Tykes to their 13th defeat of the Championship.
The home side took to the field to rapturous applause, with the appointment of manager Lowe – taking charge of his first game – galvanising fans.
But it was the captains not the managers who ended up writing the headlines, with firstly Alan Browne for Preston and then Cauley Woodrow for Barnsley getting on the scoresheet, before Johnson grabbed the winner.
Johnson should have given Lowe a flying start. Neat interplay between him and Josh Earl ended with the Jamaica international blazing over from 10 yards. That was followed by a speculative Emil Riis effort.
The Yorkshire side then hit the woodwork as Woodrow’s cross was met by Carlton Morris, who nodded a looping header onto the crossbar. Shortly afterwards Woodrow headed over from Claudio Gomes’ cross.
There was acres of space behind the Barnsley backline and Sean Maguire really should have exploited it better. He ran onto a through ball but delayed his shot for so long it allowed Barnsley to recover and block.
The Tykes could have gone into the break in front. Morris broke the offside trap and squared for Clarke Oduor who could not make good contact under pressure and the chance went begging.
And another chance went astray straight after the restart. Callum Styles squared for Oduor who side-footed a weak effort at goalkeeper Daniel Iversen. Then Woodrow curled one just wide, with the side in the relegation places sniffing a chance for three points.
But that felt further away from Barnsley minutes later. Johnson always looked like the man who could unlock the door for Preston.
Finding space in the number 10 role he got away from his marker and laid the ball on a plate for Browne who side-footed past Brad Collins to give North End the lead.
Barnsley hit back instantly. Callum Brittain flunked his shot from the edge of the area but it fell fortuitously on the head of Woodrow who nodded past Iversen.
And in an action-packed second half, Johnson pulled off his man in the penalty area and received a low pass from substitute Ryan Ledson. Johnson managed to fire through a sea of bodies to send the home fans into raptures.