BARNSLEY’S trips this week to the two sides immediately below them in the League One table won’t define their season says Neill Collins but good results could ‘really help’ in the promotion push.

The Reds won 2-1 at home to both mid-table Bristol Rovers today and lowly Carlisle United on Tuesday.

That left them fifth in League One, three points clear in the play-off places, three points off second and four off leaders Portsmouth with a game in hand.

Barnsley, who are unbeaten in ten league games, now visit seventh-placed Stevenage on Saturday – when they can double the gap to those outside the play-offs – and sixth-placed Oxford United on Tuesday. They are due to stay down south between the games.

Head coach Collins told the Chronicle: “They are really exciting games – Stevenage followed by Oxford, both away from home. The way the table is probably gets people that little bit more excited. We need to keep going either way. If we win both, we know for a fact that Stevenage and Oxford aren’t going away. These games won’t define our season. If we do well it can really help us kick on and improve. They are two good tests I think we’re ready for.”

Barnsley lost their first five games against teams in the current top eight this season but beat Stevenage last month then drew at Peterborough United having been 2-0 ahead.

“We’ve improved in games against teams around us. Peterborough was a big performance and we could have won. Stevenage was a ding-dong game that could have gone either way.

“It says a lot about the players that they put it in our favour.”

Barnsley will make their first ever trip to Stevenage, looking for an eighth win in 13 away league games this season having sold more than 1,300 tickets for the trip to Hertfordshire.

Stevenage are unbeaten at home in nine matches in all competitions, losing just one of their 12 league games there to Oxford in September while drawing six and winning five. They have the best home defensive record in the division with just ten goals conceded.

The clubs met for the first time ever four weeks ago on December 23 at Oakwell with Barnsley falling behind during a poor start but John McAtee lobbed in a stunning leveller then Herbie Kane’s deflected strike secured a 2-1 win.

Stevenage then beat Northampton 3-0 at home on Boxing Day, had a game with Cambridge called off after floodlight failure, lost at leaders Portsmouth and were dumped out of the FA Cup by sixth-tier Maidstone.

They also won 1-0 at struggling Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

Their manager Steve Evans has lost all three previous meetings with the Reds.

Their top-scorer is 19-goal Jamie Reid who started the game at Oakwell alongside former Barnsley striker Kane Hemmings.

Collins said: “Steve Evans has done a fantastic job getting promoted last season. Every game they play is tight.

“They tested us last time and I think it will be an even bigger test this time.

“If we win, the fact we’re close in the table will feel good for about two seconds on Saturday night.

“But there are a lot of games left and it’s so close in that top seven or eight.”