This weekend we make the short hop across South Yorkshire to face Barnsley.
Rovers will be looking to continue in a rich vein of form at the home of the Reds which has seen us taste defeat just three times in the last 12 games in all competitions played at Oakwell.
Rovers travelled to face Barnsley in October 2004 for what would be the first game between the sides for almost 15 years, and it came on the back of a 2-2 draw with Torquay United at Belle Vue which left the side in 16th place in League One. The hosts occupied 17th spot following defeat in a South Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday just four days earlier so they were keen to get back to winning ways and restore some pride amongst their supporters.
Rovers were at the races right from the kick off, with John Doolan keen to show his counterpart in the home midfield, Stephen McPhail he would be in for a game with a typically stern early challenge. The Republic of Ireland star wasn’t able to continue and left the field shortly after and the home side knew they were in for a tough time.
However, Barnsley’s on loan striker, Michael Chopra, was keen to add to his burgeoning goal tally for his temporary club and was guilty of missing chances which the home supporters clearly thought he should have taken but the pressure put on him by Tim Ryan may have had more to do with it.
The Reds continued to press and Chris Shuker’s audacious chip dropped just wide of the frame of the goal and from then on it was all about the visitors as the first half came to a close.
Jermaine McSporran broke forward as part of a quick Rovers counter attack and he fizzed in a low cross which Barnsley skipper Paul Reid, could only turn past a helpless Ross Turnbull in the Reds goal.
As the second half started Rovers had clearly been invigorated by the goal and words of encouragement from Dave Penney at the break as it took just fourteen minutes to see Rovers go three goals to the good. Firstly Gregg Blundell swept home from within ten yards after 57 minutes before disaster struck for the home side with another own goal. This time Tony Vaughan was the culprit leaving the visitors with a three goal advantage with still 30 minutes to play.
Barnsley awoke from their seeming slumber five minutes later when Barry Conlon nodded a right wing cross against the crossbar, before Chopra had an effort swept off the line but he managed to get his name on the score sheet from close range on 71 minutes. But the incident didn’t stop there; the home side were reduced to ten men after Jacob Burns was shown a second yellow card with just over 10 minutes left in the game. It had been a feisty encounter right from the off and former Barnsley trainee, Ricky Ravenhill was to also take an early bath after being shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
As the final whistle blew, Rovers hoisted themselves up into fifteenth place, just a point shy of breaking into the top 8 but the hosts had bigger concerns as they dropped to 18th which resulted in the home supporters calling for the head of manager, Paul Hart.
Rovers lead the head to head stats between the two sides, tasting victory 25 times with our hosts this weekend winning 23. (19 games have seen the game ending in a draw).
Barnsley only just have the edge over Rovers in games played at Oakwell, with 14 victories to Rovers’ 11, 9 games have finished in a draw.
However, Rovers have only lost 3 of the last 12 games played in all competitions at Oakwell.
Goals should be on the cards this weekend, in the 34 games played in Barnsley, there has been an average goal count of almost 3 goals per game with Rovers netting an impressive tally of 45.
The highest Rovers victory over Barnsley was played at Oakwell back in the 1965/66 season as we won by an impressive 5-1 scoreline. This still remains as the highest winning margin in games between the sides.
Theo Robinson has been declared fit to play. No new injury concerns ahead of the game other than Rob Jones who missed last week's game at home to Brighton.
The latest odds with Sky Bet;
Sky Bet have Theo Robinson at 13/2 to be 1st Goal Scorer.
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*Odds correct at time of article publishing.
Rovers Player will be covering the big game at Oakwell broadcasting live audio commentary.
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