BARNSLEY travel to Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers in search of a fifth successive victory.

The Gas are 15th in the table, 18 points off the top six and ten clear of the bottom four.

They had lost six and drawn one of their previous seven matches, scoring twice in that run, but won 3-0 at Oxford United on Saturday.

They have the third worst defensive record in the division, conceding 55 goals. Only bottom club Forest Green have conceded more goals at home in League One this season.

Reds head coach Michael Duff said: “They were newly-promoted and up until Christmas they were in the play-off mix, probably fancying their chances of finishing in the top six.

“But, sometimes when you go up, the games catch up with you.

“They got a big result last week. We scraped a 2-1 at Oxford, they won 3-0.

“They definitely carry a threat up front. They have good experienced players in the middle. They get full houses every week and there will be 10,000 there which feels like more because of the stadium it is. Joey has them combative like he was as a player.”

Rovers have the second top-scorer in the division in Aaron Collins who has netted 15 times this season, while he has the most assists in League One with ten.

He has formed a front three recently with experienced duo Scott Sinclair and John Marquis. Their back four on Saturday were all either 20 or 22.

“Collins is one of most potent marksmen in the division. I tried to sign him for Cheltenham when he was at Morecambe. But we just played against David McGoldrick and the likes.

“You make a plan and try to blunt their attack. We won’t make a special plan for him. We will just make our players aware of where he likes to move and what he likes to do.

“Then they have Sinclair and Marquis who everyone knows about as well as Josh Coburn and Ryan Loft who are good players as well.”

Barton, Duff’s former team-mate at Burnley, has lost all three games against the Reds in his coaching career.

Barnsley defender Bobby Thomas spent the first half of the season at Rovers, playing 26 games and scoring three goals.

His loan from Burnley was cancelled and he moved to Barnsley in January.

Barton said they had ‘had enough of him’ and suggested he was costing them a goal every game.

Duff said: “Bobby is just looking forward to another game.

“He has been brilliant for us. Saturday was probably his most disappointing performance but he had been ill.

“He’s everything we wanted.

“I hope he’s not going to wind himself up. He will play against former teams in his career. I am sure he remembers his time there fondly, he played every week and had some tough times but he will have learned a lot and we’re getting the benefits.”

Luke Thomas spent last season on loan at Rovers, playing 28 League Two games without scoring – with ten starts – for the side who gained automatic promotion on the final day.

Rovers lost 3-0 at Oakwell in August with Devante Cole and Jordan Williams netting in the first 13 minutes before Josh Benson scored in the second half.

Barnsley’s only previous trip to the Memorial Stadium was on the final day of the 2018/19 season.

The Reds were already promoted automatically from League One and lost 2-1 but celebrated in front of the away end.

The two clubs have met 33 times, winning 12 each. The Reds have won five of the last six meetings. They have only won three of 16 games at Rovers – 4-0 in 1910 and 2-0 in 1958 at Eastville then 5-1 at Twerton Park in Bath in 1992.

Barnsley then visit Portsmouth on Tuesday at 7.45pm.

Pompey are tenth, 11 points behind the Reds who have a game in hand.

They sacked Danny Cowley in early January following a nine-match winless run and appointed rookie manager John Mousinho who had been a player at Oxford United this season.

Mousinho has so far won five, drawn two and lost two of his nine games.

They won 4-0 at home to lowly Cheltenham Town on Saturday then won 3-1 at home to Barnsley’s top six rivals Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday.

They have conceded just once in their last four games.

They visit Cambridge on Saturday before travelling to Oakwell.

Veteran Ryan Tunnicliffe – who played three games on loan to Barnsley from Manchester United in 2013 – has been a regular in their midfield recently.

The teams met 31 days prior to this fixture at Fratton Park, with Liam Kitching netting in the 89th minute for a 1-1 draw.

This will be the 56th meeting of the two clubs, with Barnsley winning 18 and losing 22. The Reds are winless in the last four with three league draws and an FA Cup loss at Fratton Park in 2020.

Portsmouth’s last 14 trips to Oakwell since 1989 have seen them win once, draw three times and lose ten. The most recent visit was a 1-1 draw in December 2018, with Cauley Woodrow equalising.