Barnsley 0 Preston North End 3 - Match report on away day joy for PNE at Oakwell
Preston North End moved back into the play-off places with victory over Barnsley at Oakwell.
It was job done by half-time as Tom Barkhuizen (2) and Daniel Johnson found the net to give the Lilywhites their first away win since November 3.
North End were diamond geezers for the visit to South Yorkshire, Alex Neil opting for a diamond-shaped midfield in a 4-4-2 formation - a departure from his favoured 4-2-3-1.
Barkhuizen got them off the mark in the 19th minute, finishing off a flowing move down the right hand side of the box.
Johnson, playing his second game back after a seven-week absence with a knee injury, netted PNE's second in the 34th minute.
Then on the stroke of half-time, Barkhuizen broke away to score his second and Preston's third goal.
Barkhuizen and Johnson are now both on nine goals for the season.
It wasn't all one-way traffic, Declan Rudd making three saves in the first half. And after the interval, North End had to absorb some pressure as the Tykes tried to whittle down the deficit.
The North End side had shown just the one change from Saturday's win over Charlton, with Ben Pearson back after a sickness bug to replace Sean Maguire who dropped down the bench.
In the diamond, Pearson played at the base of midfield with Alan Browne and Johnson on the sides and Josh Harrop at the head of it.
Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair played up front as a pair.
It took a little while for PNE to settle into their shape and it was Barnsley who looked lively in the opening 10 minutes or so.
The hosts came close to taking the lead in the fifth minute, Conor Chaplin getting beyond the Preston defence and hitting a low shot which Rudd dived to touch past the post and behind for a corner.
North End went ahead in the 19th minute as they put together a flowing move in and around the Barnsley box.
Johnson played it inside to Harrop who slipped a first-time pass for Darnell Fisher down the right hand side of the box.
Fisher turned on to the pass superbly and played a first-time ball into the middle which Barkhuizen met eight yards out and tucked a first-time right-foot shot into the net.
Rudd pulled off his second save of the game with 33 minutes played.
Fisher's headed clearance fell across the box to Jacob Brown, his shot saved by the PNE keeper diving to his left.
The visitors doubled their advantage just sixty seconds after that save.
Barkhuizen won possession down the right-wing and cut in field along the byline.
His cross found Harrop who's shot was blocked by a defender and rolled into the path of Johnson.
Despite the midfielder being off balance, Johnson managed to poke a right-foot shot into the net from close range as he fell.
Rudd made another save in the 39th minute, going to his right to parry Marcel Ritzmaier's angled drive from the edge of the box.
The half-time brew was made to taste even sweeter for PNE when they netted their third goal with the 45 minutes almost up.
Ben Davies stepped across to the right channel to cut out and a long ball forward and returned it into the Barnsley half.
Barkhuizen won it in the air, flicking it down to Sinclair who challenged with two defenders. The ball broke off one of the Barnsley players into Barkhuizen's path.
He set off towards goal and got a shot away which clipped off keeper Sami Radlinger and looped into the net.
The hosts made the better start to the second half, North End having some work to do defensively.
Neil made a double change in the 67th minute, the tiring Johnson and Sinclair replaced by Brad Potts and Maguire.
Maguire's first involvement was to play Harrop into space to the right of goal, his pull back finding Potts who could only bundle it wide at the near post.
The game turned increasingly scrappy as the second half went on, it probably suiting North End as they defended their lead.
David Nugent came on as their third substitute, replacing Barkhuizen who could be very satisfied with his evening's work.
In the 86th minute, Fisher, Harrop and Nugent combined well to work the ball down the right channel.
Nugent found space behind the Barnsley defence to pull the ball into the box where Harrop shot wide of the near post.
Barnsley: Radlinger, Williams, Andersen, Halme, Ludewig, Ritzmaier, Dougall (Woodrow 54), Thomas (Styles 61), Brown, Mowatt, Chaplin (Schmidt 75) Subs (not used): Williams, Sibbick, Simoes, Collins.
PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty, Pearson, Browne, Johnson (Potts 67), Harrop, Barkhuizen (Nugent 74), Sinclair (Maguire 67) Subs (not used): Clarke, Ledson, Stockley, Ripley.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Carnforth)
Attendance: 12,207 (649 PNE)