WIGAN Athletic’s Wembley dream is over after Barnsley won a dramatic penalty shoot-out to advance to the northern area final of the JPT.
Lacklustre Latics had twice come back from behind in the 90 minutes to even reach the lottery of spot-kicks.
But ex-Tykes men Craig Davies and David Perkins fluffed their lines from 12 yards to send their old club through.
The visitors had taken the lead three minutes before half-time through the excellent Adam Hammill.
Latics were level within two minutes of the restart, when half-time substitute Yanic Wildschut’s cross was bundled in by a combination of a Barnsley defender and Will Grigg.
Barnsley regained the lead six minutes later when Ivan Toney was on hand to head home after Jussi Jasskelainen had done superbly to keep out Connor Hourihane’s low shot.
But Grigg was once again in the right place at the right time eight minutes from the end after great work from Davies.
After Max Power and Hourihane had scored from the spot, Davies and Perkins missed to allow Toney and Sam Winnall to put Barnsley in control.
Youngster Jordan Flores had to score for Latics, and did so with impressive composure.
But the visitors secured the win when Alfie Mawson converted his side’s fourth kick.
The defeat came as a crushing blow to boss Gary Caldwell, who had signalled his intent by naming his strongest starting XI so far in the competition.
Andy Kellett - brilliant in the last round against Blackpool - had been drafted in to play in the unfamiliar role of right wing-back.
And within two minutes he’d been sent tumbling in the Barnsley box.
Referee Keith Hill waved play on, ruling Kellett had slipped rather than tripped, leaving Caldwell seething in the technical area.
It was a real end-to-end opening, with Ben Pearson trying his luck from 30 yards at the other end which Jaaskelainen gathered at the second attempt.
Latics then got lucky as Jason Pearce was caught in possession on the near touchline, but the visitors couldn’t capitalise.
The hosts squandered a gilt-edged opportunity on the 20-minute mark when a Barnsley corner was cleared to Michael Jacobs just inside the Latics half.
With Alex Revell in acres of space on the opposite flank and eyeing a clear run at goal, Jacobs unfortunately didn’t spot his colleague until it was too late and the chance had gone.
Revell was nearly in again moments later with Reece James’ cross just too high for him.
Barnsley were still proving a threat, and Toney headed just over before Hammill’s strike from distance slipped through the hands of Jaaskelainen.
Thankfully, the goalkeeper was able to turn and see the ball clear the bar by a matter of inches.
Latics had another let-off five minutes before the interval when a superb cross from the Barnsley right was nodded narrowly wide of his own goal by Pearce.
There was no such fortune two minutes later, though, with the visitors taking a deserved lead.
Hammill received the ball on the left-hand side, and he cut in before slotting the ball into the bottom corner past a diving Jaaskelainen.
Latics needed a lift after a below-par opening 45, and Caldwell responded by throwing on Wildschut for James at the interval.
Within two minutes, the change had reaped immediate dividends.
The Dutch flyer sent over a lovely cross from the Latics left and, as Grigg competed with a defender, the ball was diverted past the goalkeeper and into the net.
Boosted by the equaliser, Latics remained in the ascendancy and almost took the lead when a Revell shot deflected off two defenders before being hacked off the line.
With Latics asking all the questions, Barnsley promptly went up the other end and regained the advantage.
Hourihane’s initial shot was brilliantly parried out by Jaaskelainen, only for Toney to follow in to nod home the rebound from close range.
Caldwell went all-in on the hour mark, withdrawing Jacobs and Revell and sending on Flores and Davies.
The latter was quickly into the game, showing pace and power down the right and sending over a wicked cross into the corridor of uncertainty.
Mawson could only slice the ball towards his own goal, and the Tykes skipper was only rescued by a fabulous point-blank range save from Davies.
Rather than hold on to what they had, Barnsley continued to push forward and had several opportunities to put Latics out of their misery.
Toney fed Hammill, whose shot from the edge of the area was always going wide of the mark, but still too close for comfort.
And Marley Watkins squandered another great chance to seal it when he couldn’t hit the target from a great position.
Latics were looking more of a threat with Davies on the field, and indeed the substitute had a big hand in the second equaliser, eight minutes from time.
After rolling his man expertly, Davies sent over an inviting cross that was smashed home by a grateful Grigg.
There was still time for both sides to threaten a winner before penalties.
With a minute to go, Barnsley broke and Toney fizzed a left-foot shot inches past the far post.
Then, in stoppage-time, Davies found himself totally unmarked inside the Barnsley box and screaming for the ball.
But Wildschut’s cross ended up yards behind the waiting striker, and the chance had gone.