Luke Thomas back at Barnsley FC to get Michael Duff era off the ground against Cheltenham Town

Barnsley head coach Michael Duff praised the quality of Luke Thomas, who scored the only goal as the Reds beat Cheltenham 1-0 at Oakwell for the first win of the new era.

The winner came in the 66th minute when Thomas, who drove forward after intercepting a loose pass, hit a fierce strike into the left side of the goal to beat Luke Southwood.

Liam Kitching almost added a second in the final minute, but his effort went just over the bar.

Duff – who left Cheltenham in the summer to take over at Barnsley – said: “I was disappointed when we went in at half-time, but we found a way to win. We started the second half really well.

uke Thomas made a goalscoring return to Oakwell. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

“We got a clean sheet, a goal and a win, that’s the three things you want to get ticked off.

“Cheltenham have unbelievable spirit, they were a hard nut to crack. I thought last week was a wake-up call for a few of the lads; League One is a tough league.

“Hopefully, the fans recognise the lads have given everything to win a game.

“I’m pleased with the performance, we won the game. Winning is a habit and the players and the club haven’t been in that habit.”

On the performance of Thomas, who spent last season on loan at Bristol Rovers, Duff said: “He’s got quality, he’s highly thought of, he’s fit. Last week we didn’t have enough players running forward. We know Luke will do that. I pick players based on what I see in the week, the best trainers will play.”

Barnsley: Collins, McCarthy, Andersen, Kitching, Williams, Benson, Thomas (Hondermarck 89), Styles, Cadden (Connell 37), Norwood (Cole 61), Aitchison (Marsh 61). Unused substitutes: Walton, Moon, Cundy.

Cheltenham Town: Southwood, Raglan (Brown 73), Taylor, Long, Jackson, Sercombe, Bonds (Adshead 56), Perry (Ebanks 73), Freestone, May, N’Lundulu (Lloyd 56). Unused substitutes: Chapman, MacDonald, Horton.

Referee: C Brook (East Sussex).