Millwall lost ground in the battle for Championship play-off places as they were held to a goalless draw in a largely lacklustre encounter at relegation-threatened Barnsley.
The Lions went closest to breaking the deadlock when midfielder Shane Ferguson struck the crossbar with a curling free-kick, with keeper Jack Walton beaten.
But Barnsley lifted their game after the break and skipper Alex Mowatt brought a flying save from Bartosz Bialkowski with a 20-yard drive.
The home side almost snatched it in added time when Millwall failed to deal with Mowatt’s ball into the box, but Bialkowski was well-positioned to deny Mads Andersen – and the draw did not really do either side any favours, with only seven games left to play.
The draw left Millwall 11th in the Championship, five points outside the top six, two more than at kick-off, with Barnsley dropping back to the bottom of the table following Luton’s 1-0 win at Swansea.
The Lions next face the Welsh club at home on Tuesday, when Barnsley entertain Blackburn Rovers, who like Millwall have play-off aspirations.
Good against capital opposition
Despite spending much of the season in the relegation zone, Barnsley had achieved decent results against London teams, with five wins and only two defeats from their eight previous games, including a 2-1 victory at Millwall in December.
Head coach Gerhard Struber unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting line-up and 3-4-1-2 formation following their first league win at QPR for 70 years.
Opposite number Gary Rowett was able to call on on-loan Mason Bennett, who had to sit out last weekend’s game against parent club Derby, and he was paired up front with Tom Bradshaw, making his first return to Oakwell since joining the Lions from Barnsley in January 2019.
After a minute’s applause for NHS workers, the first meaningful effort came from a set-piece in the 17th minute when Mahlon Romeo was penalised for a foul and Cauley Woodrow’s free-kick for Barnsley was tipped over by Bialkowski.
Northern Ireland international Ferguson’s effort came shortly afterwards, but Walton had the wherewithal to push the loose ball away from the onrushing Bennett after it cannoned down off the bar.
Barnsley’s preference for quick passing through the middle of the pitch was stifled by the visitors, who carried the greater threat as the half wore on without testing Walton further.
No happy return for Bradshaw
A heavy downpour greeted the players at the start of the second half and after Mowatt produced Barnsley’s best effort of the game, he was involved again in a good move which ended with Woodrow dinking over the defence to Michael Sollbauer, who was unable to direct his header past Bialkowski.
Bradshaw’s quiet afternoon at his old stamping ground came to an end at the second-half drinks break, with Matt Smith sent on as a substitute.
Tempers flared briefly after a late challenge by Bennett on Jacob Brown, which resulted in Barnsley’s Ben Williams and Jayson Molumby of Millwall joining Bennett in receiving a yellow card.
And there was a hectic finish which belied much of what had gone before when, following Andersen’s late effort, Walton almost misjudged Smith’s glancing header and had to adjust his feet before diving on the ball at the last moment.