January transfer signings in the past two seasons have proved pivotal for Barnsley.

Simon Davey needs to make it a hat-trick if his side are not to get sucked into another relegation battle.

Hungarian international Istvan Ferenczi scored five goals in his first four starts after signing on deadline day in 2007 and Barnsley won four of the five games Jon Macken scored in after completing his move to the club in January last year.

Their goals ensured Barnsley beat the drop on each occasion.

Davey needs to act quickly to sign another goal-scorer after promising Chesterfield striker Jamie Ward failed to agree personal terms over a £400,000 move to Oakwell.

That is not the only problem facing the Barnsley manager.

He has an entire midfield wiped out by injury and none of those sidelined have yet shown the ability to grab vital goals in the manner of Brian Howard, whose move to Sheffield United has given Davey £500,000 spending power.

To compound his problems, Norwich City are next up and so loan striker Jamie Cureton will be unable to figure against his parent club after being one of several players guilty of squandering chances to sink a poor Southampton side.

"We lost that because we did not put the ball in the back of the net," reflected Davey. "We had an endless amount of chances and possession and when we did breach them the keeper made saves. When that happens in a game they are always going to get one chance when they are away from home and, unfortunately, they scored the goal that killed us.

"A striker is a priority. I need to get one, possibly two, strikers in but the way the midfield is going at the moment I might need a midfielder. I have to react to what happens on a weekly basis. I have got a few irons in the fire and we should have a face in the building by Wednesday."

Davey went with Cureton and Macken up front with Maceo Rigters playing behind them in a diamond midfield formation.

It was the Blackburn loan player who missed the easiest chance of the game, one which, had it gone in, would have put a different complexion on the match.

Cureton had already sent a dipping volley just over when, on the half-hour, he nipped a cross from Jamal Campbell-Ryce past his marker in the middle of the area only to see Rigters reach it first only to inexplicably hit it wide from the centre of goal as Kelvin Davies rushed out.

Three minutes later and Macken had the ball in the net but left-back Marciano Van Homoet, playing with six stitches in a head wound, was flagged for offside before making the low cross after being released by Bobby Hassell – a poor decision by the linesman.

Hassell, outstanding as stand-in for injured defensive midfield man Hugo Colace (thigh), again threaded the ball through before the break but Davies rushed out to save at the feet of Cureton.

Southampton had been kept in the game by the prompting of Lee Holmes – he forced a good save from Heinz Muller – and the defensive awareness of debutant centre-back Jan Paul Saejis, on loan from Roda JC.

But they had debutant left-back from Everton Lee Moleyneux booked before the break for a foul on Campbell-Ryce and it looked odds on that the Reds winger would test him after the interval.

Instead, Campbell-Ryce spent much of the second half shuttling the ball across the width of the pitch – his work rate could not be questioned but its effectiveness could.

Campbell-Ryce still supplied the corner from which right-back Stephen Foster thought he had scored with a downward header which, however, Davies somehow palmed over the bar as it bounced off the turf.

The Barnsley captain and centre-back Dennis Souza also met another corner only to see Lloyd James head of the line.

By this time, 18-year-old Jacob Butterfield had replaced the ineffective Mounir El Haimour and he used the ball intelligently to keep the Reds going forward.

Davey said of the former trainee: "He's a good player who is still young and who has been training with the first team for a year now. Hopefully, he will improve and push himself and become a first team regular."

Barnsley's best chance of the half from open play came in the 75th minute when Macken curled the ball over from the right and Cureton met it at the far post but was unable to hit it past Davies. A minute later and Barnsley were made to pay as Saints capitalised on their one chance of the half to set up their fifth away win of the season.

Foster, under pressure from Morgan Schneiderlin, conceded a corner which was only cleared out to Holmes, who hooked the ball back in and David McGoldrick had time and space to beat Muller with a downward header.

Davey threw on Kayode Odejayi and the striker appeared to have won an 87th-minute penalty when he looked to be hauled down by Saeijs but referee Tony Bates waved play on.

"It was a definite penalty," moaned Davey, who faces a disciplinary hearing in York at the end of the month over his reactions in the game against Sheffield United.

"We don't seem to be getting them at Oakwell. If it had been in front of the Kop at Anfield then it would have been a penalty. I'm fed up of asking the referees about their decisions – they don't change their minds."

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Ian Wilkinson

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