DON’T make Mark Little angry... You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Driven by the embarrassment of a 5-1 hammering at his boyhood club Wolves last week, Wanderers’ flying full-back produced a performance verging on the incredible to help lift Phil Parkinson’s side out of the bottom three.

Little made Gary Madine’s first before capping off his best game in a Bolton shirt with a brilliant solo effort in the second half, not that he remembers much of it at all.

“It was all a bit of a blur,” he said. “I got the ball and the red mist came down. Maybe it was frustration from the Wolves game but I wasn’t going to be tentative, I just went to put it in the net. Luckily, it did, or the lads would have killed me. Happy days.

“Last week was a hard, hard defeat. I had a lot of people watching me – probably 100 people I knew sat in the stands.

“I’d been to Wolves and won before, and it was a great feeling. Maybe I got a bit too big for my boots.

“It was a horrible feeling, losing at your old club, and it all came out. I’ve been fuming since. Hopefully I can take a bit of anger into the rest of the season as well because it seems to work.”

Everyone pondered what psychological effect such a heavy defeat at Molineux would have, yet few would have seriously guessed the Whites could produce an answer quite so emphatic.

Even after seeing Gary Madine’s opening goal cancelled out within a minute by Tom Bradshaw’s penalty, there was a steely resolution about Wanderers to preserve three points at all costs.

Their attitude was summed up by Ben Alnwick’s belligerent goalkeeping in the second period, which was the perfect riposte to the criticism aimed at him the weekend earlier.

But thanks to forward-thinking full-backs on both flanks, there was a pleasing zip about the Whites going forward which had lacked a little, even during their unbeaten run.

Antonee Robinson linked up well with Will Buckley, back in the side for his first start since mid-September, while Little’s combination play with Sammy Ameobi on the right wrecked the day for Barnsley’s birthday boy Andy Yiadom.

Madine now has six for the season, his first of the day laid on by Little’s surging run and cross, which was bundled home at the near post in the style of a true goal-poacher.

Barnsley were gifted a route straight back into the game when Reece Burke – in for the suspended David Wheater – dived in on Tom Bradshaw in the box. He picked himself up immediately to despatch the spot kick straight down the middle and send the 1,200 travelling Yorkshiremen into raptures.

The response from Parkinson’s players, and indeed the supporters, was a positive one.

Josh Vela should have had a penalty when he was sent sprawling by Matty Pearson and likewise Buckley was unlucky after being wrestled down by Jason McCarthy.

Referee Oliver Langford had a frighteningly inconsistent afternoon but as Parkinson quipped after the game: “Any ref has a great game when you’ve won.”

The West Midlands official gave perhaps the least convincing of the three appeals as Liam Lindsay left a trailing leg for Buckley, chasing in on Karl Henry’s blocked shot.

Madine, exuding an air of confidence, grabbed the ball and drilled it past Adam Davies to give the Whites an advantage going into the break. But we have seen how fragile such leads can look, and a third goal was always a necessity.

It came from an unlikely source. As well as Little had been playing, his last goal was two-and-a-half years ago in the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley. Collecting the ball from Ameobi 30 yards out, he beat three men and rifled a shot into the bottom corner - a goal fit to grace any stadium in the country.

Had Barnsley been able to show any ruthlessness in front of goal, they may yet have made a game of it. Alnwick made a couple of fine saves from Brad Potts and Mamadou Thiam but saved the best for last, a point-blank block from Bradshaw in stoppage time.

Paul Heckingbottom branded his attackers “wasteful” and his defenders “naive” after the final whistle but there was no such melancholy in the Bolton dressing room where talk of Championship survival is no longer being met with incredulous looks.

Birmingham City host Wolves tonight hoping for a point which could take them back above Wanderers, for now. Yet having sampled life above the dotted line, there is renewed hope Parkinson’s side can push on - a scenario which barely looked possible when the club were 10 points adrift of safety in September.

“I’ll be watching the Blues v Wolves result with a keen eye,” said Little, whose own Bolton career has blossomed since a sticky start to the season.

“Today we’ve dragged a team a little bit above us closer. We have to do that every week and hopefully start climbing.

“We can’t change anything now. This is the standard we’ve set and the one we’ll have to maintain for the rest of the season.”

Easier said than done, perhaps, but a whole lot more believable after Saturday afternoon.