BARNSLEY’s quest to retain their Championship status suffered another unwanted setback last night as they slipped to a fourth successive defeat.
Keith Hill’s battling side were less than a minute away from earning themselves a deserved point away to the Eagles. But Sean Scannell’s 93rd minute winner shocked the Reds as the slipped one place in the table to 18th.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Reds who, for long periods, dominated possession but failed to make their dominance count with a lack of cutting edge up front once again. Thumped 4-0 at home to title-chasers Reading on Saturday, Hill made four changes to his misfiring side for the trip to south London.
First-choice keeper Luke Steele was ruled out with an abdominal injury, which he revealed on his Twitter account an hour before the slightly later kick-off of 8pm.
That meant David Button, who has signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur until next month, made his club debut between the posts.
Experienced striker Andy Gray, midfielder Stephen Dawson and defender Scott Goldbourne all returned to the starting line-up, the latter having injured himself in the club’s away fixture with Southampton earlier this month.
Loan players Korey Smith and Lee Collins were both dropped to the substitutes’ bench, while youngster Danny Rose missed out on the squad despite having started against the Royals.
The changes worked to an extent in the first half as the Reds dominated possession, but there were no clearcut chances for their efforts.
West Ham loan striker Frank Nouble looked lost playing on the right wing until he reverted to a more central position and Matt Done replaced him on the flank.
In the fourth minute Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak blasted well over before at the other end the Reds’ leading scorer Craig Davies shot high and wide with the visitors first chance of the game.
Striker Scannell shot well wide for the hosts midway through the half, then Nouble blazed over from distance and the Reds quickly countered.
Done struck a low left-foot shot straight at Eagles keeper Julian Speroni just after the half hour and then Gray headed straight at Speroni from Goldbourne’s left-wing cross.
Davies struck a free-kick straight at the home side’s wall four minutes before the break, the last of the first half chances. Five minutes after the restart, having changed their formation, Scannell stole a yard on left-back Goldbourne, but the striker fired wide from an acute angle.
The ball broke for Jedinak 35 yards out, but his left-foot shot flew well over.
Hill replaced the ineffective Nouble shortly after the hour mark with former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Tonge brought on to shore up the midfield.
Palace made two changes of their own with Jermaine Easter and Jonathan Williams brought on to freshen their attacking options, but it was the Reds who had the next chance. Midfielder Nathan Doyle tried his luck from distance, but his right-foot shot sailed well over the crossbar. Davies cut inside from wide on the left and let rip with a long-range shot, but his effort went horribly wide.
There was a much better chance for the former Chesterfield marksman with 15 minutes to go, but his vicious dipping shot was just inches over the woodwork.
Not long after Scannell beat Jimmy McNulty to get a shot on target, but Button got everything behind the effort to thwart the danger.
But in the third and final minute of injury-time the Reds were hit with a sucker-punch when Scannell pounced to head home Kagisho Dikgacoi’s cross at the back post to snatch a dramatic victory.
Palace (4-4-2): Speroni 6, Clyne 6, McCarthy 6, Gardner 6, Parr 6, Ambrose 6 (Williams 63, 5), Dikgacoi 5, Jerdinak 5, Scannell 7, Murray 5 (Easter 63, 5), Martin 5 (Appiah 77). Subs: Price, McShane
Barnsley (4-4-1-1): Button 6, Wiseman 6, Foster 7, McNulty 7, Goldbourne 6, Nouble 5 (Tonge 65, 5), Dawson 7, Doyle 6, Davies 5 (Collins 87), Done 6, Gray 6. Subs: Lidakevicius, Smith, Cotterill
Ref: Trevor Kettle (Berks)
Goal: Scannell 93 mins