Doncaster Rovers 0 Barnsley 0: Honours even in South Yorkshire derby
Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley traded blows during a lively South Yorkshire derby but neither could deliver a knockout.
Rovers were at their energetic best in the first half and would have been good value for a half time lead if Mallik Wilks or John Marquis had converted the best of their chances.
Grant McCann’s side tired after the break but held firm after coming under increasing pressure from the Reds.
In the end a draw was a fair result which kept both side’s hopes of promotion ticking over – leaving second-placed Barnsley five points clear of Sunderland and edging Rovers, in sixth, two points ahead of nearest challengers Peterborough United.
Rovers were desperate to end a run of five games without a win in the league but found their rivals, who extended their unbeaten run in League One to 18 games, a tough nut to crack.
However, if they can repeat this level of performance – and in particular the energy they showed in the first period – during the last nine games they will not finish far from sixth spot.
Mamadou Thiam fired into the side-netting within the opening minute but Rovers, who were snapping into tackles early on and winning more loose balls, made the brighter opening and went on to boss the first period – but could not make it count on the scoresheet.
Twice left back Danny Andrew produced excellent balls into the box. Firstly Wilks' powerful header was saved by Adam Davies who then blocked Marquis's attempt on the rebound, before Wilks' clever volley drifted just wide.
Rovers were slicker in possession and when Marquis played in the lively Wilks midway through the first period the Leeds United loanee should have made Davies work harder.
Doncaster's tenacity and industry restricted the visitors to the occasional counter attack. Matty Blair had to produce an excellent covering tackle to stop Ben Williams in his tracks and Marko Marosi made a good save to deny Jordan Williams from converting a cross at the back post.
But it was Rovers who looked the more likely and, sandwiched between those two scares, they again went close when Andrew's deep corner was pinged towards goal by James Coppinger but blocked again by Davies.
Rovers began the second period in a similar vein, winning the ball back in good areas and not giving the Reds time on the ball.
The pattern of the game was familiar too. The hosts were more fluent on the ball but Barnsley still carried a threat on the break.
Gradually, though, Daniel Stendel's men started to gain more control, although clear cut chances remained thin on the ground.
Cauley Woodrow clipped an effort just over and then stung Marosi's palms from distance.
For the first time the away side appeared to be getting on top when the Slovakian was at full stretch to keep out Victor Adeboyejo's looping effort midway through the second period.
Substitute Mike Bahre's shot was then deflected just wide as the visitors took things up a notch and started to pin Rovers back.
Rovers weathered the storm and might have nicked it at the death but the impressive Davies was equal to Kieran Sadlier’s low shot.
Rovers: Marosi, Blair, Downing, Butler, Andrew, Whiteman, Kane, Rowe (Crawford 66), Coppinger (Sadlier 76), Wilks (May 82), Marquis. Subs not used: Jones, Anderson, Lewis, Smith.
Barnsley: Davies, Cavare, Pinnock, Lindsay, B Williams, J Williams (Hedges 81), Mowatt, Dougall (Fryers 18), Thiam (Bahre 59), Woodrow, Adeboyejo. Subs not used: Walton, Green, Jackson, Styles.
Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 11,710 (3,653)