Bristol Rovers player ratings as Barnsley flush out Gas in torrid night at Oakwell
Barnsley showed their class as they brushed aside Bristol Rovers in a dominant display in South Yorkshire
First-half goals from Devante Cole, a heavily deflected Jordan Williams, and a Josh Benson effort gave the Tykes their second win of the campaign.
The display from the Gas was a stark difference from their solid defensive play against Oxford United at a sunny Memorial Stadium last Saturday.
In just the second minute Barnsley broke the deadlock with the first meaningful attack. Callum Styles played in Cole and he was able to squeeze the ball from a narrow-angle.
It got worse for Rovers as Williams’ 35-yard strike deflected off a Rovers player to leave James Belshaw flat-footed with less than 15 minutes on the clock.
Rovers were at sixes and sevens and played themselves into trouble when Anderson threw a loose ball to Luca Connell, who scuffed his shot at goal. Liam Kitching from the resulting corner headed agonisingly wide in a dominant display from Barnsley.
Barnsley continued to dominate as Styles forced a save from Belshaw from range whilst Cole - a tricky operator for the opposition dragged a shot wide of the post.
There was a slight flash of quality in the difficult conditions but Brad Collins was able to gather the ball from the feet of Marquis after trying to pull the trigger in the last act of the first period.
Glenn Whelan, Jordan Rossiter, and Lewis Gibson were introduced at half-time as Barton sought a change in shape, reverting to a back three whilst pushing Collins up top.
Instead, Barnsley inflicted further damage however as Belshaw played himself into danger and Benson was on hand to punish him with a low rifled effort.
Rovers had struggled to cause any problems to the opposition defence whilst Barnsley took their foot of the gas with their unassailable lead. The withdrawal of former loanee Luke Thomas was a welcome relief to the defence who had failed to deal with the tricky attacker.
Despite even more changes with the introduction of Ryan Loft and later Alfie Kilgour, the visitors were completely shut out and unable to test Collins at all in the Barnsley goal.
James Belshaw - 6
Perhaps should have done better with Cole’s opening goal. It was a difficult position for the striker to score but he was able to squeeze it past him. For Williams’ goal, he could do nothing about it given the changing of direction of the shot.
Partly at fault for kicking the ball straight at Benson who punished him for his miskicked clearance on his weaker foot but Whelan didn’t put him in a favorable position.
Harry Anderson - 4
A different showing from Saturday with Cole’s goal coming down his side. The ball deflected off of him for the second goal. He also threw the ball from a Rovers throw-in right to Luca Connell who almost punished them from it. Eventually replaced by Alfie Kilgour with a few minutes to go.
Luca Hoole - 6
Showed confidence to carry the ball a long way at times but was caught in possession and had to track back. Cole’s first goal was on his and Anderson’s side of the defence. Picked his game up after a change in shape as he coped with last-ditch defending.
James Connolly - 4
Picked up a yellow card for a sliding challenge on his former teammate Thomas. Thomas had the beating of him on multiple occasions. Played an under-hit back pass to Belshaw but Thomas nabbed the ball from him but Belshaw spared his blushes. A difficult night for the former Cardiff City defender.
Lewis Gordon - 5
A moment to forget was when Gordon cheaply conceded possession from his own throw-in, underplaying a pass to Collins. Substituted at half-time for Gibson which just meant that it was a game for him.
Paul Coutts - 5
Two successive fouls from the captain with a late challenge on Luke Thomas resulted in a yellow card.
Unable to impose himself on the game and bypassed a few times, he was withdrawn at the break for Glenn Whelan.
Sam Finley - 6
The only player in the first half that looked up for the fight. Put a few strong tackles in on the opposition and tried to get the team going, but ultimately passion overrode discipline as he was booked for a foul.
Brought off just after the hour to preserve his energy and ensure he didn’t receive a second booking.
Harvey Saunders - 5
He put in a man-of-the-match display against Oxford but Saunders was unable to have any impact against tougher opposition.
Saunders started as a winger but was forced into becoming a wing-back. More danger came from the opposite side of defence. His cross caused some problems which their goalkeeper had to deal with but coped with it in the end.
Antony Evans - 5
Struggled with his set-piece delivery to try and get rovers back into the game. Part of a midfielder that was massively overrun. Escaped a booking for a late sweeping tackle near his own corner flag.
Subbed off at half-time for Rossiter in what was seemingly a tactical decision rather than an enforced one.
Aaron Collins - 6
Collins had a good work ethic in this match but it was in the wrong box. He was needing to defend too much which left him isolated when he tried to take his team forward.
John Marquis - 6
Marquis coped with the rough and tumble against Oxford but against Barnsley, it was a different story. Drysdale would penalise the striker on a number of occasions with the forward needing to be smarter when battling for the ball.
Had Rovers’ best chance ultimately and that wasn’t a clear-shot either, instead just Brad Collins taking the ball from his feet.
Lewis Gibson (subbed on, 46) - 5
Brought on the break and in came a change in shape, but after the third went in there was another change in formation. Caught in possession a few times but made no glaring errors.
Glenn Whelan (subbed on, 46) - 5
Played the ball on the weaker foot to Belshaw who could only direct it into the path of goalscorer Benson.
Jordan Rossiter (subbed on, 46) - 5
Brought on at the break but put his defensive teammates under pressure with under-hit passes on the slippery surface.
He was unable to stop Barnsley’s dominance through the middle with Thomas having far much joy.
Ryan Loft (subbed on, 66) - 5
Rovers’ tough time in front of goal meant that Loft was ineffective in front of goal.
Alfie Kilgour (subbed on, 84) - N/A
Not enough time to add any impact to the game and was brought on to manage the workload of Anderson, whilst trying to add some solidity to the back line.