Football: Hignett reveals Barnsley's class

Barnsley 4 Bristol Rovers 1
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The Independent Online
YOU ARE only as good as your strikers," said John Hendrie, the Barnsley manager, after the victory that put his side into the last eight of the FA Cup for the second successive year.

That it was Barnsley's strikers who came good must have been a relief, because the pre-match omens had not been encouraging. Hendrie was experimenting with his 19th different attacking combination of the season and must have hoped for fitter front runners than Bruce Dyer and Mike Sheron, both of whom climbed off the treatment table to start this fifth round tie. Indeed, Sheron was making his debut for Barnsley, having been injured since Hendrie signed him.

Bristol Rovers' young strike duo of Jamie Cureton and Jason Roberts, in contrast, arrived at Oakwell with burgeoning reputations built on goal scoring tallies of 17 and 15 respectively.

In the end, however, youth was forced to bow to experience as Craig Hignett's hat-trick ensured the First Division side justified their superior status with something to spare.

Operating just behind his two striking partners, who provided marvellous support, Hignett's tireless movement off the ball posed a constant threat to a Rovers defence that looked solid for half an hour but fell apart once Hignett had opened the scoring, a tap-in after sterling work by Dyer.

"We defended well to begin with but we didn't take our opportunities and the confidence drained out of us once we went behind," said Ian Holloway, the Rovers manager. "The second goal killed us off. We played with a lot of fear today."

Things might have been different if they had taken their early chances, they did not, and after that it was all Barnsley. Hignett, released by Sheron, drove the second and Dyer's volley preceded another Hignett tap- in. Barnsley eased off towards the end allowing Roberts to burst free and finish well from the edge of the area. It made him the competition's leading scorer with seven goals, which was some consolation for 5,000 vocal Rovers supporters.

Goals: Hignett (38) 1-0; Hignett (44) 2-0; Dyer (63) 3-0; Hignett (71) 4-0; Roberts (83) 4-1.

Barnsley (3-4-1-2): T Bullock; De Zeeuw, Moses (Richardson 80), Jones; Eaden, McClare, Tinkler (Appleby 80), Sheridan; Hignett; Dyer, Sheron (M Bullock 67). Substitutes not used: Hendrie, Leese.

Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Jones; Pritchard, Trought, Foster, Challis; Trees (Low 64), Stone, Lee (Penrice 64), Leoni; Cureton, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Smith, Kaupas, Meaker.

Referee: Mr A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Bookings: Barnsley: Sheridan, Moses.

Man of the match: Hignett.

Attendance: 17,508.