WALSALL 1-3 BARNSLEYWalsall’s poor home form in 2016 continued after a comprehensive defeat against in-form Barnsley.
Ash Fletcher fired the visitors ahead with an impressive run and finish but Tom Bradshaw tucked home the Saddlers’ equaliser before half-time.
Barnsley took charge after the break, with Josh Brownhill’s 25-yarder and Harry Chapman’s breakaway goal sealing a deserved win.
Walsall, now down to fourth in League One, remain winless at the Banks's Stadium this calendar year.
Saddlers head coach Sean O’Driscoll made one change to his side’s starting XI, with Kieron Morris replacing ex-Barnsley winger Milan Lalkovic.
Striker Jordy Hiwula, who signed on loan from Huddersfield yesterday, was named on the bench.
In-form Barnsley started brightly and forced a corner inside the opening minute, which Stuart Watkins headed wide from Conor Hourihane’s delivery.
Walsall responded positively and fashioned a decent opportunity on three minutes.
Jason Demetriou slipped in Romaine Sawyers, who had intelligently found space on the right-hand side of the box.
The Saint Kitts and Nevis international had Tom Bradshaw in support and fizzed a low cross-shot across goal but wide of the far post.
Paul Heckingbottom’s Barnsley then went close when Hourihane latched on to Demetriou’s slack pass and swept a left-footed effort over the bar.
Walsall almost took the lead on 14 minutes, when Anthony Forde’s delghtful 25-yard free-kick curled over the wall but crashed against the post.
But it was the Tykes who drew first blood, against the run of play, just four minutes later.
Fletcher received possession 25 yards out, twisted and turned away from two Walsall defenders and fired an accurate left-footed drive just inside the far post.
Despite the setback, Walsall refused to let their heads drop.
Sawyers chased Sam Mantom’s pass down the right and cut the ball back for Bradshaw to fire a first-time effort goalwards but Barnsley keeper Adam Davies tipped over.
But Barnsley’s reprieve lasted barely a minute.
Kieron Morris’ attempt was blocked and landed for Andy Taylor, who stung the palms of Davies with a powerful right-footed drive.
Bradshaw reacted quickest to the loose ball and managed to squeeze a low shot across Davies and into the corner for his 16th goal of the campaign.
Play was temporarily halted on 37 minutes as referee Chris Sarginson came off with an injury and was replaced by fourth official Chris Ward.
HALF-TIME: WALSALL 1-1 BARNSLEY
The Tykes came flying back out of the traps, with Fletcher turning an effort just wide after Marc Roberts’ long throw had caused confusion in the Walsall defence.
But Barnsley didn’t have to wait long to regain their lead.
The Saddlers were unable to clear their lines, with Brownhill lashing a swerving, dipping strike into the roof of the net from 25 yards.
Six minutes later, the Tykes made it 3-1.
Sawyers conceded possession cheaply and Barnsley broke at pace, with Chapman racing forward, holding off Paul Downing and finishing under Etheridge.
Facing the prospect of a sixth home league defeat of the campaign, O’Driscoll made a double change, with Hiwula and Lalkovic replacing Morris and Sawyers.
And Lalkovic almost gave the Saddlers renewed hope but his side-footed effort from Bradshaw’s pull back was kept out by Davies.
The hosts’ misery was compounded nine minutes from time, when substitute Jordan Cook hobbled off with a hamstring injury, meaning Walsall finished the match with ten men.
Fletcher almost made it 4-1 to Barnsley when he bent an effort just wide from the edge of the area.
Walsall looked a beaten side and hardly threatened a comeback, with Davies making routine saves late on from Forde and Lalkovic as the visitors eased to victory.
FULL-TIME: WALSALL 1-3 BARNSLEY
Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor, Chambers, Mantom, Forde, K Morris (Lalkovic 66’), Sawyers (Hiwula 66’), Bradshaw (Cook 77’).
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Henry, Preston, B Morris.
Attendance: 5,199 (901 Barnsley supporters).