Barnsley 1 Doncaster Rovers 1 – A case of what might have been for Grant McCann’s men after brilliant advert for League One

Ali Crawford is halted by Barnsley's Ethan Pinnock
Ali Crawford is halted by Barnsley's Ethan Pinnock
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When it comes to League One, South Yorkshire is serving up something special.

A brilliantly breathless derby was the perfect evidence of that.

Cauley Woodrow equalises for Barnsley

Cauley Woodrow equalises for Barnsley

Two sides with pure attacking intent, phenomenal workrate and real quality turned up the heat at a bitterly cold Oakwell with a ding dong battle.

Ultimately, Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers could not be separated, and the point apiece earned was of more benefit to their rivals for a top six place.

The majestic Herbie Kane gave Rovers a deserved lead on 52 minutes before Barnsley rallied and equalised ten minutes later through substitute Cauley Woodrow.

Yet, when the final whistle sounded, one side will have been much the happier at the final result – and not the one you would have predicted before kick off.

Barnsley v Doncaster Rovers'Skybet League One'Barnsley's Mike Bahre hustles  Doncaster's Danny Andrew

Barnsley v Doncaster Rovers'Skybet League One'Barnsley's Mike Bahre hustles Doncaster's Danny Andrew

Rovers missed several glorious chances to take the win and, overall, had the better of the derby against a cruising Barnsley side in search of a sixth consecutive win in League One.

While the Reds have shown throughout the season so far that they should be taken very seriously in the battle for promotion, on Saturday Rovers demonstrated anyone discounting them at this stage would be foolish.

They got the better of Barnsley in the pressing stakes, attacked with pace and incisiveness and largely dealt with the hosts’ attacking threat with little fuss.

It said plenty that boss Grant McCann used the frustration word much more than opposite number Daniel Stendel when giving his thoughts on the final result.

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES

Rovers will rue two missed chances in particular as they reflect on a derby they probably should have won.

The first came for Alfie May, who had shown superb ruthlessness in front of goal in cup competition for Rovers over the week prior.

John Marquis unselfishly squared a pass across to his strike partner who was in acres of space at the far post but sliced his shot high and wide.

And they could have taken the win with the last kick of the game. Kane battled past the impressive Ethan Pinnock and played a low ball from the byline which ran through to James Coppinger. The veteran went for placement over power but nevertheless drew a stunning save from Adam Davies.

Rovers had managed to maintain their energy levels and tempo from start to finish, riding a strong wave of Barnsley pressure after their equaliser and finishing the stronger.

TALE OF TWO GOALSCORERS

It is reaching the stage where it is almost a given that Kane will have a major impact on any given game for Rovers.

And Saturday’s derby was no exception.

Before his goal, he helped set the tone for Rovers’ performance with his play in midfield alongside the equally important Ali Crawford and Ben Whiteman.

All three pressed superbly – Crawford in particular – and consistently nicked the ball away from Barnsley feet before pushing Rovers up the pitch.

And pushing up the pitch is precisely where Kane shone. Just a few short weeks ago he was discussing the need to add goals to his game and his manager was saying he needed to stop dropping deep to claim the ball.

The message has been received loud and clear on both fronts as he showed in being the furthest man forward to head home James Coppinger’s cross.

Ten minutes later, another player continued his recent trend of making a big impact for his club.

Woodrow surprisingly started the game on the bench for Barnsley, despite scoring in his last two games which suggested his injury-hit spell at the club was finally getting going.

In a rather toothless first half performance, there will have been plenty of a Red persuasion frustrated that he was not out on the pitch.

Stendel explained afterwards he believed he needed to be cautious with striker after his long spell on the sidelines.

But, mere seconds after coming off the bench, Woodrow delivered a strong message to his boss as he pounced on sluggish defending from Doncaster to equalise.

And he looked the most likely to push the Reds ahead as they mounted pressure immediately following his goal.

Stendel may find his desire for caution over Woodrow is not as strong in the coming weeks.

DEPUTY STAKES A CLAIM

In defensive terms, it seemed as though Rovers were limping to Oakwell.

Denied Joe Wright by injury and Tom Anderson by suspension, McCann was forced into a reshuffle at the back with Niall Mason getting the nod to partner Andy Butler.

Mason was pitched into a direct battle with Kieffer Moore of which few expected him to get the better.

Yet, not only did he come out on top, he put in a performance suggesting he should remain at centre half even as Anderson returns from his ban.

Mason never once considered entering into a physical battle with the giant striker. Instead he used smarts.

He often allowed Moore to take the first touch before judging the next step in the move and mopping up with little trouble.

It led to a very frustrating afternoon for the Barnsley striker 

Mason has enjoyed a superb season so far at right back but demonstrated just how strong he can be across the back four.

STRUGGLE WITH MIRRORED APPROACH

Barnsley rarely had an opportunity to settle throughout a difficult afternoon as they were denied the chance to impose their will on proceedings.

Their visitors played them at their own game with a strong press. It meant the Reds struggled to move the ball up the pitch with any real fluidity.

Attempts to go a more direct route towards Moore failed to see the ball stick.

Though somewhat exposing a vulnerability in Stendel’s approach, what should provide comfort is they will rarely come up against a team performing at such a high all round level as Rovers did on Saturday.