FORTUNE favours the brave, so they say.

And Wanderers’ courage was the key to keeping their heads above water in the relegation battle.

Overrun in the first half at Barnsley, the Whites trailed to Gary Gardner’s goal and were roundly jeered down the tunnel at the interval.

But their courage in fighting back allowed them to produce one of the best displays in recent weeks.

Of course, it was a disappointment to only leave Oakwell with one point, having allowed Oli McBurnie to score a stoppage-time leveller, but things had looked bleak at the break.

Phil Parkinson made four changes to his starting line-up and started with three at the back, Reece Burke joining David Wheater and Mark Beevers. Further forward, Mark Little and Antonee Robinson replaced Jon Flanagan and Andy Taylor. Craig Noone had to be content with a place on the bench after starting against Millwall while Derik was not named in the squad.

In his search to find the right formula at the business end of the season, the manager has totted up 15 changes to the first XI in the last three matches. But it was not formations, nor necessarily personnel, that almost took the Whites five points clear of that dotted line that screams loudly from the league tables once winter gives way to spring.

In truth, Wanderers had taken the upper hand early on, though without really taking a firm grip on the game. Robinson’s ball in almost falling for Mark Little two minutes in the closest they came to a goal.

And when Gardner slammed in the opener midway through the half any confidence visibly drained from their play. The 3-4-3 became more of a 5-4-1 with Adam Le Fondre a willing runner but given little as an increasingly isolated lone striker.

No one in white covered themselves in glory for the goal, and ex-Barnsley keeper Ben Alnwick will be disappointed he failed to bring in Adam Hamill’s corner. And the ensuing scramble ended with Gardner blasting into the top corner.

It was a sucker-punch and one that had the visitors reeling but, crucially, they bent slightly under the pressure but refused to break.

McBurnie had given Burke something of a runaround before the defender was replaced by Will Buckley at half time.

Parkinson’s former Bradford charge McBurnie almost doubled the lead when he created a shooting chance by swiftly evading defenders when a corner fell to him.

At the other end, Sammy Ameobi was the first to test Tykes keeper Adam Davies – with less than 10 minutes of the half remaining – when he tried to find the far corner from a tight angle.

The introduction of Buckley almost paid immediate dividends as he found Robinson with a cross but the man known as Jedi found the force deserting him as he took a touch and fired wide.

But, just as the hosts’ goal had knocked the stuffing out of Bolton, that close call boosted belief and they began to display the courage to play their way out of trouble.

They should have been awarded a penalty 10 minutes after the restart, too. Wheater’s goalbound header was stopped on the line by Andy Yiadom, and the Whites’ frenzied protests that he did so with his hands did nothing to sway referee Michael Jones.

Barnsley tried claiming a penalty of their own when Kieffer Moore lost a test of strength with Wheater but, having seen the Yiadom incident waved away, such appeals were beyond optimistic.

The hosts were not without a goal threat and Moore headed over from Hammill’s ball in and Alnwick redeemed himself by first denying George Moncur and reacting quickly to save McBurnie’s follow-up.

For all their improvements, however, time ticked away and what would have been a devastating defeat became more of a possibility.

But with around 10 minutes left on the clock, Moncur’s shirt-pull on Buckley at a corner was spotted by Mr Jones, who pointed to the spot. The Barnsley protests were long and loud and prompted a set-to involving Darren Pratley and McBurnie, the latter falling theatrically to the turf but fooling no one in an attempt to get the Whites’ man dismissed.

Le Fondre had been made to mull over his spot-kick for an agonisingly long time while the official dished out cards and the frayed tempers eased. But after being limited to a couple of long-range efforts shortly before, he would make no mistake with this chance, and sent Davies the wrong way to level things up.

That goal brought a sense of relief to the away hordes and the volume, upped by the second-half showing, reached greater levels moments later as Noone, a replacement for Little, pounced for his first goal of a frustrating first season at the club. Davies and Yiadom took each other out in their attempts to clear Ameobi’s cross and Noone grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Now all Wanderers had to do was see out the last five minutes, plus the same again in time added-on, to put daylight between them and the Tykes.

But is was not to be as McBurnie grabbed a lifeline midway through stoppage-time, escaping his marker to nod in from close range.

That goal keeps his side two points behind the Whites, with a game in hand. While Parkinson’s men need a favourable result or two from elsewhere, they also have to concentrate on taking care of their own business. And doing so valiantly.

Many more halves like the first one at Oakwell will see them struggle to do so. But having the courage to play, a la half number two is surely their best chance of staying out of trouble.