SUBSTITUTE Tomasz Cywka’s special late strike rescued a deserved point for the battling Reds, but it was a bitter-sweet night as they slipped back into the Championship drop zone.
A much-improved second-half showing will give encouragement ahead of this weekend’s mega FA Cup tie at Manchester City.
Boss David Flitcroft made three changes to his starting line-up following Saturday’s second defeat on the spin, at home against Bolton.
Stephen Foster was back in place of Manchester United loan man Ryan Tunnicliffe, while in an adventurous formation Marlon Harewood was in to join Chris O’Grady and Chris Dagnall.
The final Reds change saw Jacob Mellis brought in for fellow midfielder Jim O’Brien.
It seems much of the world must have been tuning into the big Champions League clash at Old Trafford as there were plenty of empty seats inside Turf Moor, but it was the hosts’ faithful who were soon off their seats celebrating a goal.
There was less than nine minutes on the clock when full-back Dan Lafferty strode far too easily down the Reds’ left flank. When he crossed into the six-yard box, there was goal machine Charlie Austin who charged in to lift his 26th strike of the season comfortably past keeper Luke Steele.
Once again, with Championship points still so desperately needed, Barnsley had got themselves off to the worst possible start.
The visitors did rally though and in the 20th minute they were screaming at replacement referee Mr Boyeson for a penalty.
Harewood latched on to Mellis’s header and as he smashed in a venomous shot which was blocked by Kevin Long, the big front-man was convinced the ball had struck an arm.
David Perkins and Harewood confronted the man in the middle, but he stood unmoved and Tom Kennedy’s corner came to nothing.
At the other end Martin Paterson had the ball in the net, only to be denied by a linesman’s flag, and as half-time approached it was the Clarets who were back in the ascendancy.
The Reds went closest just seconds before the interval, however, as Kelvin Etuhu headed Perkins’ floated free-kick straight at keeper Lee Grant from just six yards out.
Harewood was sacrificed at half-time, with Cywka taking his place, and the change almost had an immediate effect.
O’Grady leapt superbly to head a ball perfectly into Dagnall’s path, only for the nine-goal front-man to lift a looping shot just wide of the angle of post and bar with keeper Grant stranded well out of his goal.
There was definitely a renewed impetus gushing through the Reds, and in the 55th minute O’Grady was again the provider as he teed up Cywka who crashed an effort wide from 12 yards.
The Polish winger was in the zone as he was seeing plenty of the ball after getting the nod at the break, and next he stormed to the bye-line before whipping in a peach of a cross that O’Grady couldn’t quite stretch to meet.
The Reds really needed to score when they were so much on top, but now the Clarets defence was standing increasingly strong.
There was then something of a let-off with 20 minutes to go when Martin Cranie appeared to clip Austin as he roared into the box.
The in-form striker went sprawling, but as the home fans screamed, My Boyeson was unimpressed.
Unfortunately for the Reds the tide looked to have turned back into Burnley’s favour, only for Cywka to nab that equaliser with just seven minutes left.
And what a great goal it was.
Perkins touched the ball to the Barnsley sub, and from the edge of the box the livewire spotted Grant off his line and curled a magical angled effort into the far corner of the net.
* Goals: Austin (9 mins for Burnley); Cywka (84) for Barnsley.
* BURNLEY: Grant 7, Trippier 5, Long 7, Shackell 7, Lafferty 7, Stanislas 6 (Ings 52, 5), Edgar 5 (McCann 52, 6), Bartley 7, Kacaniklic 7, Paterson 5 (Vokes 65, 6), Austin 8.
Subs not used: Jensen, Mills, Treacy, Stock.
* Booked: Bartley.
* BARNSLEY: Steele 7, Wiseman 7, Foster 6, Cranie 7, Kennedy 7, Mellis 5, Perkins 7, Etuhu 7 (O’Brien 79, 6), Dagnall 6 (Scotland 55, 6), O’Grady 8, Harewood 6 (Cywka 46, 7).
Subs not used: Lidakevicius, Delap, Hassell, Tunnicliffe.
* Booked: Foster, Mellis.
* Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).
* Attendance: 10,584.