Craig Mackail-Smith made his long-awaited first-team return for Brighton & Hove Albion as the Seagulls were held to a goalless draw by ten-man Barnsley.
The striker, sidelined since March 2013 with an Achilles injury, came on in the 78th minute in place of Jesse Lingard but Oscar Garica’s men were still unable to find a way past a resolute Tykes side.
In a cagey opening half hour Tomasz Kuszczak was equal to Dale Jennings’s strike, while opposite keeper Luke Steele’s alertness prevented David Rodriguez from latching onto Lingard’s through ball.
Lingard was involved again, this time laying on a shot for Leo Ulloa but the Argentinian’s powerful effort deflected over for a corner that the hosts dealt with.
After a quiet first-half the second started in a more lively fashion as Solly March weaved into the box but couldn’t evade Steele with his low cross, before Liam Lawrence rattled Albion’s bar with a close-range-header.
Gordon Greer was just out of reach of March’s cross as he tried to find the net for the second time in a week, while again the Tykes had Steele to thank as he was swift off his line to deny Lingard.
The hosts then came within a whisker of taking the lead as Jean Yves-M’voto arrived in the Brighton box only to put his bullet header just wide. Oscar’s men responded and came agonisingly close when Lingard teed up Ulloa but the Seagulls' top scorer saw his goalbound effort hacked away by Kelvin Etuhu in the six-yard box.
It was a case of hero to zero for Etuhu as two bookings in quick succession saw the defender given his marching orders and the dismissal prompted the arrival of Mackail-Smith.
Kazenga LuaLua came close twice, first striking a free-kick inches wide before forcing Steele low down to his left with another effort from distance. The winger then used his skills to get down the left flank before picking out the arriving Inigo Calderon, but the full-back was expertly denied by Chris O’Grady’s challenge.