Crawley Town gave their survival chances a big boost as they won for just the second time in 17 League One games this afternoon.
An excellent second-half showing and hat-trick from Izale McLeod helped Reds to a 5-1 win over Barnsley at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
Reds pinched a 1-0 lead in first-half injury-time through McLeod’s lobbed finish and another two from him, along with a Marvin Elliott header and first goal for the club from Sonny Bradley after the break, gave them a much-needed three points.
It was the first time Reds had scored five since a 5-2 over AFC Wimbledon in October 2011 and the win lifted them to within two points of safety.
Lee Fowler was handed his full debut for Reds as Dean Saunders made three changes to the side which were hammered 5-0 by Doncaster midweek.
Lewis Young and Bradley were the other two changes at the expense of the suspended Joe Walsh, injured Lanre Oyebanjo and Jimmy Smith.
Elliott took the armband in the absence of skipper Walsh after his red card on Tuesday.
The Tykes, under interim manager Mark Burton and assistant Paul Heckingbottom after the sacking of Danny Wilson on Thursday, also made three changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Fleetwood during the week.
George Smith, Mason Holgate and Leroy Lita all came into the starting line-up as Kane Hemmings and Jean-Yves M’Voto dropped to the bench with Peter Ramage not in the squad.
The visitors, who had lost the last six of their away games, put the home side under pressure from the off and on 11 minutes, Lewis Price was down well to stop a driven effort from Mason Holgate as Reds struggled the get a foothold in the game.
The Reds’ stopper was at his best on 23 minutes as he superbly tipped a near-post glancing header from Holgate onto the bar from a Conor Hourihane corner.
A lovely switch set Milan Lalkovic away on the half-hour mark and he drove forwards, before curling just past the far post from 21-yards out.
At the other end, Elliott’s ambitious overhead got the crowd off their seats, despite not troubling Tykes’ stopper Ross Turnbull.
That seemed to spur the home side into life as McLeod flicked past Turnbull from a long goal kick, but didn’t get enough on the ball, while Mathias Pogba then forced the stopper into a low block from the right.
The Barnsley fans thought they had the lead with six minutes of the half remaining, but Hourihane’s fine free-kick curled into the side netting.
It was Reds that would pinch a half-time lead as Pogba dropped off to flick on a lofted ball down field, which fell into the path of McLeod who lobbed over Turnbull beautifully from outside the box.
Crawley made a dream start to the second half as Lee Fowler’s free kick went over everyone and Bradley was first to react to tap home as Turnbull blocked the set-piece.
Moments after Pogba limped off and was replaced by Gavin Tomlin, the home side made it 3-0 on the hour-mark as another teasing Fowler free-kick, from exactly the same position, was headed into the bottom corner by Elliott.
Barnsley reacted by making three substitutions as Lita, George Waring and Smith made way for Hemmings, Mvoto and Rhys Oates.
Two of those combined as The Tykes pulled one back on 65 minutes as Holgate’s cross was headed towards goal by Oates to Hemmings, who nodded home.
Tomlin turned onto the post from a yard out on 72 minutes as McLeod’s shot was saved, but Reds added a fourth a minute later as a horrible error by Lewin Nyatanga allowed McLeod in and he finished into the far corner.
McLeod completed his hat-trick with seven minutes left as he fired home after a good run from Young had forced Turnbull into a stop on the edge of the box.
Crawley: Price, Young, Ward, Bradley, Dickson, Edwards, Elliott, Fowler (Smith 77), Wordsworth (Morgan 75) , Pogba (Tomlin 59), McLeod. Unused subs: Dutton, Anderson, Bawling.
Barnsley: Turnbull, Smith (Oates 59), Holgate, Nyatanga, Cranie, Hourihane, Lalkovic, Pearson, Scowen, Lita (Hemmings 59), Waring (M’voto 59). Unused subs: Davies, Williams, Bailey, Berry.
Attendance: 2296 (419 away).