A DRAMATIC stoppage-time strike from Richard Chaplow earned Doncaster Rovers a cherished derby victory over profligate Barnsley - as interim-boss Rob Jones claimed the first win under his tenure.
Second best for most of the game, Rovers netted with their first effort on target in a second-half dominated by the Reds, with sub Harry Middleton’s sliderule pass setting up Chaplow, his fierce strike beat Nick Townsend at his near post - for his second goal of the campaign.
Barnsley had several chances in a dominant second period, with top-scorer Sam Winnall’s cushioned header following Conor Hourihane’s corner on the hour cancelling out Keshi Anderson’s second goal in successive matches ten minutes before the break.
The visitors, backed by an away following of just under 3,000, bossed the second period, but their dominance yielded just one goal and they paid a heavy price at the death as Rovers saw the wheel of fortune go in their direction after being cruelly denied three points late on by Swindon Town.
The win was Jones’ maiden one in five matches at the helm as Rovers picked up three points for the first time since August 29.
For Barnsley, their wait for a first Keepmoat success since January 2011 goes on in a game in which they should have won.
Jones adopted for a bold selection, fielding a 4-3-3 formation with Dany N’Guessan handed a first start for Rovers following his vibrant cameo against Swindon in midweek.
N’Guessan partnered Anderson and Andy Williams in a three-pronged attack, with the hosts other change seeing Luke McCullough make his return after being out since the end of August with a knee injury, with the Northern Irishman replacing Jones.
Liam Mandeville was named on the bench, with loanee Oscar Gobern not in the matchday squad.
Barnsley fielded the same side who lined up against Gillingham, with the only change coming on the bench where Joe Rothwell replaced Conor Wilkinson.
A quiet half devoid of chances saw one major development with Anderson showing predatory instincts to put Rovers ahead on 35 minutes.
Otherwise, it was a half in which Barnsley were the better side, with winger Kadeem Harris lively, but despite seeing more of the ball, they could make it count in front of goal.
Former Rovers defender Reece Wabara was given stick by home fans from an early juncture, who made their feelings known following his decision to leave the club and turn down fresh terms in the summer.
The first chance fell Barnsley’s way with Harrison skipping past loanee James Horsfield before delivering a left-wing cross which Marley Watkins failed to get a clean connection to in the air when well placed.
At the other end, Wabara fired a cross-shot across goal, while at the other end, Rovers struggled to make an impression on the Reds rearguard.
Twenty-five minutes in, a quality piece of football amid the derby morass saw Barnsley go close.
A super pass from George Smith dissected Rovers down their right, with Harris picking up the ball and cutting inside before firing a curling strike which flew not too far wide.
At the other end, McCullough was afforded space in the box following Chaplow’s corner but couldn’t steer his header goalwards when well placed.
Barnsley then produced a mini-scare in front of home fans in the Black Bank with neat play by Josh Scowen and Watkins picking out top-scorer Winnall, whose shot was diverted wide.
Barnsley were assuming control in midfield and were starting to stroke the ball.
But then, out of nothing, Rovers forged the breakthrough, thanks to the sharpness of Anderson.
The start of the second half was delayed for five minutes after one of the referees’ assistants sustained an injury.
The first chance fell to the Reds, attacking a fair following in the away stand, with Wabara floating over a cross, which Winnall couldn’t get a clean connection to.
Hourihane then steered an effort wide after more pressure from the Reds, but it was beginning to shape up as one of those days for the visitors.
Harris then hared away down the left, but his dangerous cross evaded the onrushing Barnsley players.
With Rovers struggling to make any impression going forward, Barnsley assumed control with Wabara soon floating over a cross on the right, but Winnall couldn’t divert his header goalwards.
But the Reds striker fared better on the hour when he was afforded time and space in the box to head home a lovely header following Hourihane’s corner to restore parity.
Thorsten Stuckmann then fielded Wabara’s low shot before the big German made an excellent save on 72 minutes with his legs to block a low shot from dangerman Harris, who sprinted clear.
Going forward, Rovers’ efforts were token, with N’Guessan header tamely over and Andy Butler nodding wide with Nick Townsend untroubled.
Lee Johnson made a triple change with two minutes to go, bringing on Michael Smith and Daniel Crowley and Marc Roberts, in an attempt to yield a breakthrough.
Harris saw a piledriver turned away by Stuckmann and from Hourihane’s resulting corner, Smith saw his header held by the Rovers custodian.
At the other end, in a rare home foray, Harry Middleton was almost afforded a sight of goal, but he delayed with his effort blocked.
Just when it looked like ending all-square, Barnsley fell briefly to sleep at the back with Middleton slipping in Chaplow, who fired powerfully home to seal the proverbial smash and grab raid.
Doncaster Rovers: Stuckmann; Horsfield (Taylor-Sinclair 74), McCullough, Butler, Evina; Coppinger (Middleton 57), Wellens, Chaplow; Williams, Anderson, N’Guessan (Mandeville 81). Substitutes unused: Marosi, Forrester, Keegan, Stewart.
Barnsley: Townsend; Wabara (Roberts 80), Mawson, Nyatanga, G Smith (M Smith 81); Pearson; Watkins, Scowen (Crowley 80), Hourihane, Harris; Winnall. Substitutes unused: Davies, Jackson, Bree, Rothwell.
Referee: D Handley (Lancashire).
Attendance: 9,033 (2,906 Barnsley fans).
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