Kane proves more than able for Rovers be­fore Reds grab share

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - AT OAKWELL Barns­ley:

DUR­ING THE pre-match pre­lim­i­nar­ies ahead of this par­tic­u­lar South York­shire derby stoush, all the talk had cen­tred around one mid­fielder.

It ended with con­ver­sa­tion in­escapably grav­i­tat­ing to­wards an­other in op­pos­ing colours.

Don­caster-born Alex Mowatt was omnipresent in the buildup. In a week which saw him sign a new Barns­ley deal and his face adorn the front of the match pro­gramme along­side a cen­tre spread, the ic­ing did not ar­rive against his home­town club.

In­stead, it was a day which be­longed to Her­bie Kane and it is easy to see why Don­caster Rovers are go­ing ba­nanas about him.

A ‘spe­cial tal­ent’ is Grant McCann’s take on the Liver­pool loa­nee and the Rovers man­ager is clearly on to some­thing.

Not only does Kane bear a re­sem­blance to a for­mer Rovers’ en­gine-room great in Richie Wel­lens, he plays like him too – and pos­sesses poise and au­thor­ity in equal mea­sure.

His el­e­gance lit up a dre­ich af­ter­noon and it was fit­ting he was at the heart of every­thing good from Rovers, who re­ally should have been toast­ing their first win in five out­ings at Oakwell.

It was also apt that the Bris­to­lian net­ted Rovers’ opener with a bul­let header on 52 min­utes fol­low­ing a cross from James Cop­pinger, who prof­ited from lax de­fend­ing by Dim­itri Cavare.

His pas­sion­ate cel­e­bra­tions in front of 1,863 Rovers con­tin­gent spoke of a player fully en­am­oured with life at Don­caster – and hamm­reed home the need for the club to keep hold of him post-Jan­uary.

Should he re­turn to An­field in the New Year and not re­turn to Don­caster, rest as­sured that there will be a queue of clubs beat­ing a path to Mersey­side.

It was a derby day when the Barns­ley faith­ful’s thoughts also drifted to­wards a cer­tain mid­fielder, with the ab­sence of Kenny Dougall keenly felt.

Rovers bossed the cen­tral area, set­ting the tone in a high-press­ing first half in which their work ethic was fe­ro­cious, with their move­ment and in­ci­sive first-time pass­ing un­hing­ing Barns­ley.

It was a far from straight­for­ward oc­ca­sion for the Reds, yet they found a way to sal­vage some­thing, with a ra­zor-sharp lev­eller from sub­sti­tute Cauley Woodrow – just two min­utes af­ter com­ing on – a goal that helped ex­tend their un­beaten run at Oakwell to 16 games.

Rovers’ on-mes­sage de­fence switched off for per­haps the only time on 62 min­utes when a free­kick was not cleared and the lurk- ing Woodrow pun­ished them with a deft fin­ish.

That Barns­ley’s proud un­beaten home record re­mained in­tact also had plenty to do with Adam Davies, who made a blind­ing stop­page-time save to turn away a goal-bound strike from Cop­pinger in the last ac­tion of the game. Some­times, it is not just about turn­ing draws into wins for as­pir­ing sides, but losses into draws.

Davies said: “They are the big match mo­ments that peo­ple talk about and, hope­fully, I have pulled it out of the bag to get a point.

“We were nowhere near our best and to come away with a GREAT LEV­ELLER: point shows that we have a bit of char­ac­ter and can dig deep. Go­ing one be­hind is never easy, but we kept go­ing and kept be­liev­ing and Cauley got the goal for us.”

Show­ing re­spon­si­bilty at the right times along­side Davies was Ethan Pin­nock and at the other end, make-shift cen­tre-half Niall Ma­son was sim­i­larly at­ten­tive.

His pol­icy of be­ing street­wise in deal­ing with Ki­ef­fer Moore as op­posed to get­ting into a scrap that he could never win paid div­i­dends on a day when Rovers used their heads – if not in front of goal at key junc­tures.

They may have cursed Davies’s late con­tri­bu­tion and lamented an early Cop­pinger strike which hit the wood­work, but Rov- ers were also left to rue a lack of ruth­less­ness in front of goal – in marked con­trast to their FA Cup seven-goal rout­ing of Chor­ley.

Al­fie May’s four-goal haul may have taken star-billing in mid­week, but the wait for a first league goal of the sea­son con­tin­ues for the striker, whose mo­ment 15 min­utes from time when sent clear by John Mar­quis should have ren­dered Davies’s late hero­ics as aca­demic.

In­stead, May blazed hor­ri­bly over as Barns­ley breathed again, not for the first time.

Cen­tral to it all was un­de­ni­ably Kane, who set up Cop­pinger’s early chance and saw a fierce sec­ond-half strike also flash wide.

It was he who also picked Ca- vare’s pocket at the death and set up Cop­pinger. Some player.

Ma­son said: “I thought we played re­ally well and we had two or three chances to win the game. But it was a great team per­for­mance from the first minute of the game. I felt we were re­ally solid.

“We started the sea­son bril­liantly and then had a sticky spell, which hap­pens. You have just got to stick it out and stay strong.”

Barns­ley’s Cauley Woodrow turns away to cel­e­brate his sec­ond-half equaliser against Don­caster Rovers at Oakwell on Satur­day. In­set, Ethan Pin­nock slides in to dis­pos­sess Ali Craw­ford in a keenly-con­tested derby en­counter.

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