Walsall 2 Barnsley 0
After an hour's labouring, Walsall finally found a cutting edge to their pretty patterns to ease into the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2002.
Goals from Michael Leary and Kevin James were enough to do for a limited Barnsley side that never showed any signs of being able to cope with their hosts' fluid football.
The only question was whether Paul Merson's side would find an end product to their neat build up play as, for long periods, the absence of a recognised centre forward threatened to undermine their efforts.
Chances came and went by the clutch, with loan signings James and Mads Timm doing their best out of position up front but lacking the real thrust of conventional strikers.
Nevertheless Timm's constant probing and neat touch was destined to create something tangible and so it was that the Manchester United loan signing opened up the Yorkshiremen's defence.
Merson expressed his admiration for the midfielder and his satisfaction with result and performance. "'Mads' was great," Merson said. "He didn't over complicate and showed his class. We played very well but we could have won by a lot more. The tempo was good, we had good pace and energy."
There was, however, a caveat and the result must be viewed as something of an expensive victory with both Ian Roper and Simon Osborn failing to reappear for the second half after suffering ham-string injuries.
Merson will now do all he can to bring in a centre forward and a centre-half in time for Saturday's appointment at Chesterfield.
Walsall really should have gone ahead in the first half as the mobility of their attacking players caused Barnsley's defence problems.
Ishmel Demontagnac might have been awarded a penalty in the fifth minute but he was adjudged to have done more to throw himself to the ground than Chris Shuker.
Six minutes later visiting goal-keeper Nick Colgan was given his first anxious moment when Michael Leary picked up possession in midfield and drove towards goal. Unfortunately for him his 25-yard effort dipped just too late.
Mark Wright did well to fashion a chance for himself in the 19th minute as he picked up a cross-field pass and jinked inside Neil Austin. He was, however, only able to prod his shot at Colgan as cover arrived.
Perhaps the best chance of the half came midway through when James accelerated away from Paul Reid only to hit his shot straight at Colgan as raced off his line.
On the half hour he managed to avoid the former Hibernian man when he curved his run and latched on to Anthony Gerrard's through ball.
As Colgan arrived James lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and looked set to volley into the empty net only for Matt Carbon - a man who spent several seasons at both Walsall and West Bromwich Albion - to hammer it to safety.
A couple of minutes later James slipped Timm free to the right of the penalty box. He rolled play back to the edge of the area only to see Wright and Leary have their attempts blocked. In truth the most likely opening had closed when Timm checked back inside.
Nevertheless, even though Merson's side did not score during the opening period, they created far more than their unambitious guests who could offer just Brian Howard's dribbler in reply. It may have woken Andy Oakes in the home goal but it certainly wouldn't have done anything to warm his hands.
The pattern continued after the restart, although Merson committed more men forward to go for the win with Leary instructed to make runs between the front two.
That eventually paid off with a quarter of the match left when Timm ignored 4,000 roars to spread play to Wright on the right flank and instead picked out Leary on the edge of the area.
The central midfielder walked round Colgan and rolled the ball into the back of the Barnsley net. The dam was sprung.
Ten minutes later Demontagnac fired a centre across the face of the visitors' goal only to see it roll, apparently harmlessly, to safety. Wright was on to it quickly and drove a head-high cross back into the six-yard box where a diving James beat his marker to power past Colgan.