A depleted Barnsley side ground out a vital 1-0 win at fellow promotion-challengers Oxford United on Tuesday night.

The Reds led at the break through an own goal then produced a performance of real character during a second half in which Adam Phillips and Herbie Kane were forced off through apparent injuries.

The Reds are now unbeaten in 11 and three points off the top two, six points clear in the top six.

Luca Connell, who was ill, and Callum Styles, who is thought to be close to a move away from the club, dropped out of the 11 with Jon Russell and Nicky Cadden coming in. Youngsters Aaron Atkinson and Jonathan Bland were on the bench for the first time in a league game.

Oxford had the first chance in the 14th minute when, after Corey O’Keeffe lost the ball and Mael de Gevigney slipped in the wet conditions, Mark Harris played in Finn Stevens who scuffed wide from the edge of the box.

Nicky Cadden’s cross then thudded against the crossbar before, at the other end, Jordan Williams’ poor backpass put Marcus McGuane clean through and he lobbed Liam Roberts but it lacked power and Jack Shepherd cleared easily.

The home goalkeeper then passed straight to Devante Cole who shot over from just outside the box before John McAtee turned a wicked Cadden cross just wide from close range.

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The breakthrough arrived on 29 minutes when, after a corner was cleared, Adam Phillips’ fine right-wing cross was headed into the bottom right corner by defender Sam Long under pressure from Cole.

A fine move in first half injury-time saw O’Keeffe swap passes with Phillips then cross to the back post where Cadden was in space but made a mess of the shot which was shanked well wide.

Oxford’s Mark Harris then fired over from 12 yards out from a left wing cross before half-time. Russell blazed a shot over from 15 yards after a Cadden cross was only half-cleared.

Phillips came off at half-time with Sam Cosgrove replacing him and McAtee dropping into attacking midfield.

Harris should have levelled at the start of the second half after Shepherd’s poor header put him clean through but Roberts made a fine one-on-one save.

Herbie Kane came off midway through the second half with Barry Cotter replacing him and O’Keeffe playing in midfield.

Cotter had a shot from the right of the box easily saved then, at the other end, Cameron Brannagan rattled the crossbar from 25 yards on 85 minutes.

Cadden shot just wide of the bottom right corner after a fine run into the box then Brannagan’s low injury-time free-kick was straight at Roberts.

Barnsley (3-5-2): Roberts; Williams, de Gevigney, Shepherd; O’Keeffe, Phillips (Cosgrove HT), Russell, Kane (Cotter 68), Cadden; McAtee, Cole (Watters 74).

Unused: Killip, Lopata, Atkinson, Bland.

Yellow cards: De Gevigney.

Goals: Long OG 29.

Oxford (4-2-3-1): Cumming; Long (Smyth 35mins), Brown, Moore; Stevens (Burey 61), Brannagan, , McGuane (McEachran 78), Bennett (Leigh 45+3),; Goodrham, Rodrigues; Harris.

Yellow cards: Rodrigues.

Unused: Eastwood, Thorniley, Henry.

  • 7:48pm
    Liam Roberts slips slightly with ball at feet in the box but recovers and clears
  • 7:49pm
    Barnsley haven't had much of. the ball in the Oxford half in the opening four minutes.
  • 7:51pm
    It's very wet and windy here
  • 7:52pm
    Barnsley so far struggling to put. passes together or advance much up the pitch
  • 7:52pm
    John McAtee has looked to run onto a ball beyond the defence. twice but both times the offside flag has been raised
  • 7:54pm
    Barnsley are looking to pass the. ball up the pitch but. have already. knocked it out of play a few times in the first nine minutes
  • 7:55pm
    Oxford win the game's first corner on the left
  • 7:55pm
    10 Cameron Brannagan's left-wing corner is headed back across. goal and takes a couple of touches but goes well wide
  • 7:57pm
    Barnsley win a free-kick about 35 yards out in a central area
  • 7:58pm
    Kane's free-kick goes into the box but the referee blows his whistle possibly for a foul
  • 8:00pm
    Decent chance for Oxford. O'Keeffe gives the ball away and Mael de Gevigney slips so Mark Harris can find Finn Stevens just inside the b ox but he drags well wide of the bottom left corner
  • 8:02pm
    Cadden crashes against the bar from the edge of the box on the left.
  • 8:03pm
    Barnsley corner clawed out by the goalkeeper, who then fumbles a Cadden cross behind for another corner
  • 8:03pm
    The next corner is headed out
  • 8:04pm
    A poor Williams back pass. puts Marcus McGuane clear through. He lobs the. goalkeeper from just. outside the box but it has no power and Shepherd can clear
  • 8:07pm
    So a few chances in the last few minutes.
  • 8:07pm
    Barnsley have gifted the hosts their two opportunities with sloppy errors
  • 8:08pm
    Chance for Cole. The goalkeeper passes straight to him on the edge of the. box but he blazes over
  • 8:09pm
    Barnsley close again. Cadden whips in a good low cross and McAtee just flicks it wide of the near post from close range
  • 8:12pm
    McAtee tries one. of his trademark lobs from 25 yards but it goes a few yards over
  • 8:13pm
    Kane. wins a free-kick on the. left after a good move involving Russell and Cadden
  • 8:15pm
    Devante Cole heads in a Phillips cross
  • 8:16pm
    Excellent cross and it's headed into the bottom right corner. I wondered. if it. was an own goal but Cole seems to have claimed it
  • 8:18pm
    Whoever scored it's a big breakthrough in tight game and a very good Phillips cross
  • 8:19pm
    Sam Long, who we think scored. the own goal, has been down getting treatment but is walking off. now
  • 8:20pm
    Long has to. come off. Oisin Smyth on
  • 8:24pm
    The game has quietened down since the goal. It was pretty end to end before Barnsley made the break through
  • 8:27pm
    Barnsley seem more organised and confident now, pressing well too
  • 8:30pm
    Barnsley have been good overall this half. A few minutes left in it.
  • 8:30pm
    Six added minutes
  • 8:31pm
    Class move. Phillips and O'Keeffe swap passes, the latter crosses deep to the back post where Cadden is in loads of space but totally scuffs his shot
  • 8:33pm
    Chance for Oxford. Mark Harris fires a low right wing cross over the bar about 12 yards out
  • 8:34pm
    Joe Bennett the second Oxford player to hobble off. Greg Leigh on
  • 8:36pm
    Chance for Russell. A Cadden cross is only. half cleared and Russell blazes over from 15 yards
  • 8:38pm
    HALF-TIME: Oxford 0, Barnsley 1
  • 8:54pm
  • 8:59pm
    Massive chance for a leveller. Shepherd. gifts the ball to Mark Harris but Roberts makes an outstanding one on one save
  • 9:00pm
    Barnsley have. settled into the half a bit now and are. getting on the ball. They have won a few free-kicks
  • 9:03pm
    Shepherd long throw on the left., Referee. sees a Barnsley foul
  • 9:06pm
    307 away fans here.
  • 9:07pm
    It's got. quite scrappy recently with both sides struggling to keep the ball in these poor conditions
  • 9:08pm
    We've hit the hour-mark here. Barnsley look pretty comfortable overall. A long way to go though
  • 9:09pm
    Oxford bring on Tyler Burey for Fin Stevens
  • 9:10pm
    Herbie Kane. down receiving treatment
  • 9:10pm
    Kane came off but will carry on
  • 9:12pm
    Mael de Gevigney booked for bringing down an. attacker when through. The home crowd want red but Shepherd was covering
  • 9:13pm
    Cameron Brannagan's free-kick hits the wall
  • 9:14pm
    Oxford. win corner on right. Crowd getting noisier
  • 9:15pm
    Corner from the right headed by Burey on the edge of the box and it goes all the way through to Roberts
  • 9:16pm
    Kane does come off now. Cotter on
  • 9:17pm
    O'Keeffe in central midfield now. Barnsley really down to the bare bones
  • 9:19pm
    Cadden blocks a shot. in the box then Brannagan shoots well wide from distance
  • 9:21pm
    This has been a really gritty and ugly game after the break. So far Barnsley holding on for what would be a. massive win
  • 9:21pm
    Watters coming on
  • 9:21pm
    Watters on for Cole
  • 9:24pm
    Barnsley without Connell and Styles before kick-off, Phillips and Kane have come off. Their main four central midfielders this season. Would be a massive win if they pull this off. Not much happening in the way of chances
  • 9:24pm
    Cadden corner headed out
  • 9:26pm
    Josh McEachran on for McGuane
  • 9:27pm
    Cotter's shot from the right of the box easily saved by the goalkeeper at his near post
  • 9:29pm
    Into the last ten minutes
  • 9:29pm
    Oxford have had. a lot of the ball but no real chances in last half an hour
  • 9:30pm
    Corey O'Keeffe. booked for blocking a free-kick and not being ten yards away
  • 9:31pm
    Oxford shoot over from distance again. Some fans in front of me have seen enough and leave.
  • 9:32pm
    Wow. Cameron Brannagan rattles the bar from 25 yards.
  • 9:34pm
    Brannagan shoots again. This time. dips wide of bottom left corner
  • 9:36pm
    Cadden fires just wide of the bottom left corner. He had surged forward then turned past a defender in the box
  • 9:37pm
    Cadden wins a corner. Big shift from him tonight
  • 9:38pm
    Brannagan wins a free-kick 25 yards out
  • 9:38pm
    Seven added minutes
  • 9:39pm
    Brannagan's low free-kick straight into Roberts' arms. Maybe a slight deflection
  • 9:42pm
    Another. header from the edge of the box is easily caught by Roberts
  • 9:44pm
    Barnsley 90 seconds away from a win which will be pure character and guts
  • 9:45pm
    Wind blows advert boards onto the pitch. Oxford players move them off.
  • 9:45pm
    We have now played the seven added minutes
  • 9:46pm
    FULL-TIME: Oxford 0, Barnsley 1.