Barnsley striker Andy Gray scored twice to deal a blow to Cardiff City's promotion challenge yesterday and prompt a 90-minute dressing-room inquest by their manager, Dave Jones.
Gray headed home Jacob Butterfield's left-wing cross in the 89th minute to add to his first-half effort as below-par Cardiff missed the chance to leapfrog rivals Swansea City into second place.
The timing of the late leveller left Jones frustrated and, as a result, the Cardiff manager did not appear for his post-match conference for almost 90 minutes following the final whistle, after a debate with his jittery players. Jones said: "There were no incriminations. It is clear in everyone's minds and we, me, the staff and the players just want to try and make things better. What can we do and how do we do it? What is needed?
"We know we didn't play well. We got our noses in front twice and should have seen the game out. I thought we looked nervous. But we still got ourselves into a position to have won the game and it was a lack of concentration on our part. It's one of the many things we have spoken about. We need to get over the nerves."
Peter Whittingham's excellent 25-yard volley and a Dekel Keinan header put the home side ahead in either half but a double strike from supersub Gray, who played his last full game on New Year's Day, earned the visitors a share of the spoils.
The result leaves Cardiff in fourth spot, a point behind Swansea and Norwich, but the Barnsley manager, Mark Robins, felt his side were worthy of more. Robins said: "A point was the least we deserved. Whittingham's strike was the goal of the century but I thought we kept their big guns quiet. We showed our character and resilience to come back twice and if we had more belief we would have won the game."
Robins also paid tribute to Gray's strike partnership with Marlon harewood. "I thought Andy was fantastic today and he linked up well with Marlon," he said. "He has had to be patient this season because we have a number of strikers in the building, but you can see his quality with the goals.
"The first one wasn't easy to stick away, the ball was bouncing and Andy used all of his experience to keep it down while the second one showed good anticipation to get across his marker. He deserves all the rewards for his hard work."
Cardiff (4-4-2) Bywater; Quinn, Keinan, Hudson, McNaughton; Emmanuel-Thomas (Olofinjana, 59), Whittingham, McPhail, Bellamy; Chopra (Burke, 26), Bothroyd. Substitutes not used Brown (gk), Rae, Gyepes, Parkin, Blake.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Steele; Hill (Butterfield, 87), McShane, Shackell, McEveley; Trippier, Arismendi, Doyle, Mellis (O'Brien, 63); Haynes (Gray, 12), Harewood. Substitutes not used Preece, Lovre, Devaney, Butterfield, Bennett.
Booked McShane, Arismendi.
Referee R Booth (Nottinghamshire).
Possession Cardiff 52% Barnsley 48%.
Shots on target Cardiff 9 Barnsley 7.
Man of the match Gray. Match rating 6/10.