Midfield maestro Josh Scowen made sure this dead rubber went Barnsley’s way with a deadly double.
The club’s young player of the Season Mason Holgate bagged his first–ever goal, while fans’ player of the season Conor Hourihane and star striker Sam Winnall were also on target as the on-song Tykes completed a fine five-star win.
Scowen’s first and second goals for eight games were just what the Reds needed as they finished the season on a high by ending a nine-game winless run with their biggest league win of the season.
Irish defender Joe Raffterty was sent-off for Dale in the 50th minute for two yellow cards as it proved to be a miserable return for former manager Keith Hill on his return to Oakwell.
And victory for Lee Johnson’s side, who flirted with the play-offs this season, saw the Oakwell club finish 11th in League One having been close to the relegation zone before he took charge.
Rafferty’s dismissal for needless challenges on Ben Pearson and match-winner Scowen proved the difference.
Down to ten men Dale struggled under the pressure and Scowen twice headed home, unmarked, from Conor Hourihane corners.
Hourihane also had a big hand in the third goal as Holgate fired home from his corner to put the contest well beyond a lacklustre Dale.
The Irishman deservedly got on the target, tapping home from substitute Rhys Oates’ pass in the final minute before Winnall – who also had a goal ruled out for offside – netted in injury-time to complete the rout.
The Reds should have scored after just nine minutes, but Manchester United loan midfielder Ben Pearson volleyed wide from a great position.
A careless back-pass from skipper Lewin Nyatanga nearly let Dale striker Ian Henderson in on goal, but keeper Adam Davies made a good block to avert the danger.
Former Reds forward Noble-Lazarus nearly put the visitors ahead in the 16th minute, but his free-kick cannoned off skipper Nyatanga and flew over.
Right-back James Bree rifled narrowly over with a rasping left-foot shot as the Reds continued to press.
George Smith forced a smart low save from Lillis, while at the other end Noble-Lazarus blazed over.
Joel Logan and Noble-Lazarus both had shots blocked, before the Reds broke on the counter-attack and Luke Berry headed straight at Lillis from a Bree cross from the right.
Peter Vincenti had a header cleared off the line two minutes after the interval as the visitors started brightly, but a minute later they were down to ten men when Rafferty was given his marching orders for a needless foul on Scowen.But Davies pulled off a fine save to thwart substitute Jamie Allen, with the Reds’ defence caught out by a Peter Vincenti ball over the top.
Scowen bagged two goals inside nine minutes, Holgate and Hourihane quickly followed, with Winnall capping a fine season with his 13th goal.
Barnsley: Davies, Bree (Williams 69), Holgate, Nyatanga, Smith, Pearson, Hourihane, Berry (Digby 77), Scowen, Winnall, Maris (Oates 66).
Subs: Dibble, Lalkovic, Cranie, Abbott.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Eastham, Lancashire, Vincenti, Noble-Lazarus (Camps 69), Tanser, Logan (Allen 50), Cannon (Bennett 45), Kennedy, Henderson.
Subs: Diba, Andrew, Rose, Bunney.
Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)
Attendance: 9,593 (656 away)
Scorers: Scowen 68, 76; Holgate 84; Hourihane 90; Winnall 90+2