Barnsley 1 Bristol Rovers 0: Mowatt stretches Tykes unbeaten run at Oakwell

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BARNSLEY made it 11 successive games unbeaten at home by sinking the Pirates.

Their proud Oakwell record, which has brought six wins and five draws, began over the last four home matches of last season and has extended into the first seven of this campaign.

They needed to get back on track after successive away defeats and an early strike from Alex Mowatt proved enough against a visiting side facing a relegation battle.

Barnsley were missing Australian international Kenny Dougall, who damaged ankle ligaments in the 3-1 midweek defeat against Shrewsbury Town and who could be out for the rest of 2018. Cameron McGeehan, his 20th-minute replacement against the Shrews, continued to deputise and Daniel Pinillos returned from suspension

at left-back for Ben Williams. George Moncur also stepped in for Mamadou Thiam.

Despite a 2-0 win against Wimbledon, Rovers chief Darrell Clarke replaced Ed Upson, Sam Matthews, Tom Nichols and Kyle Bennett with former Reds striker Stefan Payne, Chris Lines, James Clarke and Gavin Reilly, switching to a 3-5-2 formation.

The Reds went ahead in the 11th minute when a low cross came in from the left and Brad Potts turned it back for Mowatt to curl a sweetly-struck shot from outside the area inside a diving Jack Bonham's left-hand post.

Rovers responded but Ollie Clarke's drive from the edge of the area was blocked by Liam Lindsay and

James Clarke moved up from the back only to blaze over midway through the half.

Payne was twice denied by Davies in the 30th minute, firing a shot from the right which the goalkeeper tipped over for a corner and then being denied by a smart block after Ethan Pinnock missed his header when Leadbitter chipped the ball back in after the flag kick had been cleared.

Rovers forced another corner and Liam Sercombe whistled a shot over after the ball had been played out to him.

Barnsley withstood the pressure to take a lead into the break.

Lines fired an early second-half 24-yard free-kick into the Barnsley wall but the Reds hit back and when Mowatt's corner was played back out to him, the chip to the far post was headed down by Moore and, in the ensuing scramble, Moncur's fierce attempt thudded off the chest of Bonham.

Potts was also narrowly off target from 12 yards after being teed up by Mowatt and Barnsley began to reassert control of the game.

Rovers made a triple substitution in the 64th minute, Bennett, Matthews and Alex Rodman for Leadbitter, Reilly and Ollie Clarke.

Moncur gave way to Thiam for the Reds.

Rovers had a chance on the break when Rodman fed Bennett down the middle but the former Bradford City winger curled wide his shot from the edge of the area.

In response, Thiam was felled on the break and his free-kick from 24 yards struck the bar and he then blazed wide as the ball came back to him in the 79th minute.

In the end it mattered little though it would have eased some late nerves.