Barnsley remain seven points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Championship after Reading came back from a goal down to claim a point to Oakwell.
The hosts were the better side for much of the first half without reward but finally opened the scoring just before the hour mark when Michael Morrison was dispossessed in his own box and Cauley Woodrow finished for his eighth goal of the season.
But Reading battled back and Lucas Joao struck from a corner to see the points shared.
Story of the game
Barnsley made a very promising start, getting into good positions with ease. Jacob Brown fired over from a Conor Chaplin pull-back, before Reading hinted at some threat on the counter as George Puscas was found in behind by Andy Rinomhota but went too wide round goalkeeper Sami Radlinger to have a strike at goal.
The hosts had a chance on the break themselves as Mike Bahre burst forward, found Chaplin and then received the ball back over the top only to stab the ball tamely into the hands of Rafael Cabral.
Mads Andersen flicked a Jordan Williams cross wide and Alex Mowatt drilled wide of the post after a nice Bahre turn as Barnsley continued to enjoy themselves outside the box without having the end product.
Charlie Adam, making his first league start for Reading, brought the first real save of the game with his stinger from distance making Radlinger stretch, and Puscas headed an Adam corner over as the visitors finally started to enjoy some time on the ball in the opposition half.
The best chance of the first half came at the end for the Tykes though. Bahre turned on the edge of the box and slipped in Chaplin, but his effort was kept out by the legs of Cabral with the Brazilian also collecting Brown’s follow-up.
Reading came out brighter after the restart and had the better of play, but struggled to find an opening until Ovie Ejaria and Joao combined to find Jordan Obita, only for the wing-back to blaze over on his return to the team.
Cabral was called into action to beat away a Mowatt strike before the opening goal came out of the blue moments later. Centre-back Morrison was caught in possession by Brown in his own box and the ball was rolled across for Woodrow to gratefully stroke it into the corner.
Reading changed things around with Sam Baldock and Yakou Meite introduced up front with a switch to four at the back, and a leveller came in the 76th minute. Adam drilled a corner along the ground and the ball stopped dead in the box for Joao to fire into the net.
The substitutes combined when Baldock’s cross found the head of Meite but he could only head over. Ejaria then struck straight at Radlinger after good hold-up play from Baldock.
Come six minutes of added time, it was Barnsley pushing for the winner. Woodrow fluffed his chance by missing the ball when Bahre had squared to him in space, and substitute Patrick Schmidt then aimed straight at the goalkeeper after a driving run from Toby Sibbick.
Time not on Struber's side
This was only Gerhard Struber’s fifth game as Barnsley manager, but four points from the possible 15 so far have put them seven away from safety.
There were positives to take from the performance: for large spells they were playing with confidence again on the ball, finding pockets of space to attack and utilising their youth with an energetic display that gave Reading little time to rest.
But 15 games without a clean sheet tells their story of defensive woes and their inexperienced backline continues to leak goals, with the Royals the latest side to expose their set-piece vulnerability.
The Austrian boss has certainly made an impact in his short time in charge so far, but if the issues are not fixed up soon then a League One return will be inevitable.
Royals forced to switch it up
Mark Bowen was happy to change tactics and formation as the game went on following a dispiriting start which saw little composure in possession.
With balls simply going forward and the strikers having no luck in keeping the ball, they began to try and play their way through again and soon found themselves getting into promising positions and creating chances.
The second half saw Reading play some of the better football, eventually finding the net through Joao after going behind, and they could have won the game late on.