Barnsley are unbeaten in nine after a 2-1 victory at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Devante Cole opened the scoring at the end of a first half in which the Reds were the better side.

But mid-table Rovers created a series of good chances and levelled midway through the second half, only for Corey O’Keeffe to reply within five minutes.

Barnsley remain sixth in League One, in the play-offs on goal difference and six points off top two with games in hand.

They are unbeaten in nine league games and their last eight at home since September.

Luca Connell and Jamie McCart missed out through minor injuries with both potentially back for Tuesday’s visit of Carlisle. Nicky Cadden was benched and replaced by Callum Styles who made his 150th appearance for the club.

Full home league debutant Jack Shepherd came in for McCart – his third EFL start and first since September 2 – and Jon Russell replaced Connell, having not started more than two months.

The Reds announced the signing of US international Donovan Pines minutes before kick-off.

Barnsley began the game well, playing good passing football, but the visitors had the first shot on target when Antony Evans’ 25-yard free-kick was easily saved by Liam Roberts.

Adam Phillips had Barnsley’s first shot on target on 34 minutes which was from a tight angle on the right and saved by Matthew Cox, after fine backheel pass from O’Keeffe following a scramble in the box.

A minute later, Callum Styles’ corner from the left was met by Shepherd with a powerful header that was clawed out by Cox.

Soon after Rovers should have scored when Jevani Brown went clean through – after Jordan Williams lost the ball amid claims of a foul – but Roberts made a fine one-on-one save.

Herbie Kane then fired just wide of the bottom left corner from 20 yards after good work by Cole.

Cole made the breakthrough on 43 minutes when he headed a left-wing McAtee cross onto the left post then it rolled back to him to tap in on the line.

The visitors should have levelled before the break when Styles gifted the ball to ex-Red Luke Thomas who advanced into the box but was denied by another one-on-one save from Roberts.

Rovers could have scored 40 seconds into the second half when, after Russell lost the ball deep in his half, Chris Martin brought down a cross but shot across goal and wide from the left of the box.

Brown then went through on the right of the box after a good passing move on 48 minutes but shot just wide of the bottom right corner. Luke McCormick just missed the bottom left corner from the edge of the box. Tristan Crama almost bundled in a leveller after Phillips missed a free-kick.

But the equaliser arrived when Evans’ cross was headed into the bottom left corner by veteran striker Martin who had beaten Williams in the air.

Martin could have made it two goals in as many minutes when a move down the right ended in a cut-back to him ten yards out. But his powerful shot was too close to Roberts who kept it out.

Barnsley restored the lead within five minutes against the run of play. Phillips received the ball from Cole 25 yards out in a central position and brilliantly skipped past a defender before cleverly playing in O’Keeffe who impressively found the bottom left corner from about 15 yards.

Harvey Vale’s volley in the 89th minute appeared to strike the outside of the left post.

Barnsley (3-5-2): Roberts; Williams, de Gevigney, Shepherd; O’Keeffe (Lopata 85mins), Phillips, Russell (Cosgrove 61), Kane, Styles; Cole (90+2 Watters), McAtee (Cadden 85). Unused: Killip, Jalo, Cotter.

Yellow cards: McAtee.

Goals: Cole 43; O’Keeffe 73.

Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Cox; Grant, Connolly (Gibbons 81mins), Crama, Vale; Thomas (Collins 81), Finley, McCormick (Hunt 66), Evans; Martin, Brown (Marquis 66). Unused: Ward, Sinclair, Hoole.

Goals: Martin 68.

  • 3:03pm
    McAtee tackles the keeper in the box but he dives on it
  • 3:04pm
    Now McAtee has a shot. blocked. Good start
  • 3:06pm
    The match has settled. down slightly now but Barnsley look at it so far
  • 3:07pm
    Phillips wins free kick on right wing. after clever turn
  • 3:08pm
    Free kick on right by Kane deflected off Reds played behind for goal kick
  • 3:09pm
    Rovers free-kick on left wing
  • 3:10pm
    Shepherd blocks shot by Jevani Brown. Reds break on counter and Kane cross put behind for throw on left
  • 3:11pm
    Reds make mess of throw with Kane trying. to pass back to taker Styles who slips and ball goes. out
  • 3:12pm
    If Jack Shepherd is nervous on his full home league debut he does not show it. Lovely. run out of defence past two player then good pass. to Phillips. Eventually Barnsley win. free-kick which is turned behind for corner on right
  • 3:13pm
    Kane's corner headed down by Russell who then nudges it to Styles who swings to shoot but kicks a defender and a free-kick is given
  • 3:14pm
    More good football by. the Reds sees Phillips played down right and win corner. They've. been the better team by a far way
  • 3:14pm
    Kane's corner headed by Shepherd but drops in box and cleared
  • 3:17pm
    Barnsley will be pleased with their performance so far but can they create a real chance?
  • 3:20pm
    Jon Russell has lost the ball a few times already. He loses it, gets. it back, surges forward then passes to a Rovers player in a good position
  • 3:23pm
    John McAtee booked. for a foul about 30 yards. from Barnsley goal. He and crowd thought he got ball
  • 3:24pm
    23 Antony Evans has the first shot on target but his 25-yard free-kick is straight at Roberts who catches
  • 3:28pm
    Barnsley have lost their rhythm a little bit after the bright start. They need to get their foot back on the ball and start playing the good football they showed early on
  • 3:31pm
    Jordan Williams has a shot from almost 30 yards but looks like a toe-poke and goes way over
  • 3:32pm
    Barnsley trying to press deep in Rovers half then realise there are two balls on the pitch
  • 3:33pm
    Game has to stop and Rovers re start
  • 3:34pm
    Scramble in Bristol box with shots blocked. O'Keeffe. brilliantly back heels to Phillips whose shot from a very tight angle on the right is save
  • 3:34pm
    Kane corner headed out. So is his next cross
  • 3:36pm
    Jack Shepherd so close. He meets a Styles corner with. strong. header but just. too. close to the goalkeeper to palms it out
  • 3:38pm
    Two chances in a couple of minutes. Barnsley stepping it up here
  • 3:39pm
    Big chance for Rovers. Williams loses the ball. just outside his box (he wanted a foul) and. Jevani Brown goes clean through but Roberts makes a crucial one on one save
  • 3:41pm
    Close again for Reds. Kane shoots just wide of bottom left corner. from 20 yards after good work by Cole
  • 3:42pm
    A flurry of chances in last ten minutes after. barely any before
  • 3:45pm
    Devante Cole opens the scoring
  • 3:46pm
    Cole heads McAtee's cross onto the left post and it rolls back to him to tap in almost on the line. 15 for the season and 40 for the club.
  • 3:47pm
    Should be 1-1. Styles gifts the ball to. former team mate Luke Thomas who goes through one on one but again Roberts saves.
  • 3:48pm
    HALF-TIME: Barnsley 1, Bristol Rovers 0.
  • 4:06pm
    Rovers almost level within 30 seconds of the restart. Russell loses the ball again and a cross to the left of the box leaves Chris Martin is space but he shoots across goal and wide.
  • 4:08pm
    Another chance for the visitors o n 48 minutes. A good move cuts through the Reds lumbering defence but Brown shoots wide. of the bottom right corner from just inside the box
  • 4:11pm
    Two big chances early on for the visitors this half. Reds need to wake up
  • 4:14pm
    Barnsley have calmed things down a bit now and are having more of the ball after that poor start to the half
  • 4:16pm
    Another big chance for the. visitors. Luke McCormick shoots just wide of the bottom left corner after the ball broke nicely for him following a move on the left
  • 4:18pm
    Home fans starting to get behind their side in decent voice
  • 4:18pm
    Home fans starting to get behind their side in decent voice
  • 4:20pm
    Sam Cosgrove comes on for Jon Russell. McAtee to drop into number ten role with Kane and Phillips in central midfield
  • 4:24pm
    Not a great deal going on but Rovers putting a few crosses in the box which have been dealt with.
  • 4:25pm
    Ex-Red Jack Hunt coming on for Luke McCormick
  • 4:25pm
    Jon Marquis on for Brown
  • 4:25pm
    Jon Marquis on for Brown
  • 4:27pm
    Chris Martin levels
  • 4:29pm
    The veteran striker heads a right wing cross into the bottom left corner. You have to say it's warranted based on the second half
  • 4:30pm
    Martin nearly gets a second in as many minutes but his close range shot is saved by Roberts following a pull back on the right.
  • 4:30pm
    Kane free-kick 30 yards out. Well over
  • 4:33pm
    Corey O'Keeffe restores the lead!
  • 4:35pm
    Brilliant from Adam Phillips who gets the ball from Cole, beats a man and finds a superb pass for O'Keeffe who finds the bottom left corner from 15 yards or so. Totally against the run of play but who cares?
  • 4:36pm
    McAtee tries one of his lobs from the right of the box but it's well over
  • 4:38pm
    Rovers still pressing. Styles turns a left wing cross behind for. a corner on right
  • 4:39pm
    Rovers bring on James Gibbons and Aaron Collins for Luke Thomas and James Connolly
  • 4:43pm
    Lopata and Cadden coming on
  • 4:43pm
    O'Keeffe and McAtee coming off
  • 4:45pm
    Poor clearing header by Williams who then concedes a free-kick just outside box
  • 4:46pm
    86 Evans is played. the ball from the free-kick and smashes a powerful shot well wide of the bottom right corner from 22 yards
  • 4:49pm
    So close to 2-2. Harvey Vale smashes a shot off the post with a volley on the left. A corner is given so Roberts must have got a touch
  • 4:49pm
    Cosgrove curls wide wide and over from the edge of the box
  • 4:51pm
    Cadden does well on left, goes into. box and his cross is deflected into side netting
  • 4:51pm
    Cadden does well on left, goes into. box and his cross is deflected into side netting
  • 4:51pm
    Into six added minutes
  • 4:51pm
    Watters coming on
  • 4:51pm
    Cole coming off. Standing ovation
  • 4:55pm
    Into the last added minute. Barnsley seeing this out well so far
  • 4:55pm
    Well done Jordan Williams, cuts. out a dangerous pass then bursts up the right wing before being fouled
  • 4:56pm
    FULL-TIME: Barnsley 2, Bristol Rovers 1