Neill Collins praised his players’ attitude as they came from behind to beat Stevenage and register their first points this season against a top eight side.

The visitors took the lead in the fifth minute but John McAtee and Herbie Kane turned the game in the Reds’ favour.

Head coach Collins told the Chronicle: “Overall I am really pleased with the players and their never say die attitude. They put their bodies in front of everything. I thought we were really good in the first half despite going behind early again to a goal which was too simple. The players responded really well but our quality let us down with the final pass. We largely controlled the first half.

“Coming out in the second half we probably had our worst spell but we got through it and had our best spell, got the goal and put some quality passages of play together. We had to see out the final ten minutes against a really difficult side. We came from behind again, which is a great trait to have, and got a big three points.

“We maybe don’t have some the physical attributes to deal with a team like Stevenage the best way. But one thing you can do is compete and we did that. There are parts of the performance we need to do better in the future but if we have that character and attitude, the quality will come through.”

McAtee superbly lobbed the ball into the top right corner for the equaliser. Collins said: “It was a fantastic goal. He ran in behind like we asked him to do. It was similar to Callum Styles at Northampton. John has been excellent.”

Kane’s winner came on his 100th appearance for the Reds. Collins said: “First of all, 100 appearances is excellent and says a lot about Herbie. He’s always fit to train and available when the chips are down. It was great play, he saw space and drove into it. I don’t think we’ve had a goal like that with a deflection so we will take it. When you have shots on target, things like that happen.”

The result brought Barnsley’s first points against a top eight side this season. Collins said: “I am pleased for the players, Stevenage were high in the league and the table is really really tight. We have tough games coming up. But it was good to start this block of four games with a win.

“It was great to see the stands packed today. Everyone can enjoy Christmas with three points and we have a lot to look forward to for the second half of the season.”

There were two strange incidents late on as Callum Styles looked set to come off before McAtee was removed instead, then Sam Cosgrove saw a late goal ruled out for offside.

“That was just a lack of communication between the staff. Maybe they got the numbers wrong. It was human error but it was quickly fixed. It summed up the game which was tetchy.

“I don’t think the third goal was offside but it depends who touched it. These things sometimes go for or against you. It would have been nice for Sam to get a goal.”

Collins left Owen Dodgson and Max Watters out of his matchday squad. He said: “Dodge was really unfortunate. He played well last week. I just thought, for how we wanted to play, Styles would give us something. Cads was really unlucky but he came on and was excellent.

“I just went for Fabio and Sam ahead of Max on the bench. But those two will be important going forward.”