Barnsley Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom wants his Barnsley side to stick to their game plan in order to pick up three points against Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend.
The Reds are currently six points outside the play-off places in ninth position, following Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory away to Aston Villa.
The reverse fixture on the South Coast saw the Seagulls run out 2-0 winners and felt that at the time, that result may have been viewed as a reality check for the Reds.
However, ‘Hecky’ is hopeful of overturning that scoreline this weekend, but knows the task will not be easy.
He said: “It showed the quality we can come up against, I thought we were soft against them, we didn’t do ourselves justice and everyone could see that and the lads could see that.
“We didn’t make it difficult enough for Brighton down there, then you go and look at some of the teams who Brighton beat and how they beat them, maybe we weren’t that bad, maybe Brighton had a really good day, but we'll make it very difficult for them at home.
“But we have to be ready for them having a really good day on Saturday and like I say, look at them and use that as a reference point for what we need to do to win the game. People know what we want to try and do and how we want to try and play, we don’t hide away from that, we try to be aggressive with and without the ball.
“The detail of that in terms of who we pick and who we identify in the opposition in terms of players we need to, target is the wrong word, but whose strengths we need to work against.
“It’s fine margins in this league, we’ve played great in the last two games, created more chances but put only one on target against Reading and created less in the other and scored three from six on target, that’s what will win us the game.
“The pleasing thing is the work we’ve done in the last two games, they’re starting to understand it and take it on board and when you get success from it, you get even more buying in.
“I know where we are, but it’s just good to watch us play against big teams. Win or lose, if we perform how we want, then we can get a true reflection and that’s what we have to aim at.”
The Head Coach confirmed that Josh Scowen is likely to miss the next “two to four weeks” following an ankle injury sustained against Reading last weekend.
But fellow midfielder Alex Mowatt will be available for the Reds this weekend after serving a three-game ban after being sent off on his debut against Wolves.
Heckingbottom explained what part Mowatt could play and how he has been progressing in training, but added that all members of the squad have impressed in his absence.
“Alex has been looking great on the watt bike,” he said. “He’s been working hard, the one thing we can do is keep his fitness up when he’s not playing.
“We’ve had lots of games as well so while he’s preparing with us, he’s seeing what we’re asking the team to do and he’s learning the tactical element of it, but we’re having to give him extra in terms of the physical load because a lot of ours is down-time between games.
“It’s good to have him back, but not only that, but in particular the last couple of games with changing the teams around, every one of the players has done really well, which is pleasing.
“For example, we’re 2-1 up against Villa in the second half, and I look at our bench and I know everyone can go on and do a good job for us, which is really good. I feel like we’re making subs to strengthen the team, which I’ve always said to the players, it’s the team that finishes that will get us the points.
“Whether we’re winning or losing, you’ve got to see that game out, or go on and win the game and change the game. We try and improve every player and Tuesday I was stood there thinking ‘let’s do this now, let’s do this now’ because I felt like we were making the 11 on the pitch better.”
George Moncur played a starring role for the Reds in midweek, making his first Reds start since returning from his loan spell at Peterborough United.
‘Hecky’ gave his thoughts on the midfielder’s performance and his impact since returning to Oakwell.
“The thing is with George and all our players, we try and be honest with them. George had a decision to make in January, Peterborough would have kept him, he wanted to come back, so then it’s my duty to tell him how the situation was at that minute.
“I had to give him all the information as accurately as I could and this is the pecking order and this is where you fit, this is what you’re going to have to do and he was adamant he was going to try and do it.
“He had a decision to make, will I go and fight at Barnsley or stay at Peterborough and probably get more game time? No, I need to get in that team and that’s what he’s got to try and do and I was really pleased with him the other night.
“It’ll be the same as any other player in any other game, this was great, this was right, this is what we want, this is what needs to be better and he’ll be pushed the same as everybody else.
“I go on all the time about winning, but here’s a comparison. The last two games I thought we played great in both games, I asked the players to do certain roles and they’ve done them,” added Heckingbottom.
Tom Bradshaw and Adam Armstrong have scored 12 goals between them this season, with Bradshaw grabbing a brace in midweek and Armstrong converting a penalty.
He is pleased with the contributions the duo have made to the side and feels their link-up play is improving all the time.
“I’m delighted, we’ve been doing a lot of work with those two with video and little messages, they know their roles without the ball, but you always have to practice it. What they are, are goal scorers. It’s showing them how their positions off the ball, when we win the ball back, they can be a big threat.
“Whether that’s on the counter, whether we’re playing it up to the frontmen, or combining together, they’re beginning to see the more they work together with and without the ball, the more successful they can be and help each other out.
“It’s always pleasing when the strikers score, but even more important for me is when we do play with two up top, if they have an impact on the game, they generally do well.”
The Reds have adapted well to life in the Championship, despite not having many big names in the squad, or previous experience in the division before, unlike this weekend’s opponents, who he feels are awash with big name players.
The Head Coach insisted that this will be no barrier to them going forward and despite players leaving last summer and in January, he firmly believes he has a stronger squad at his disposal now.
On Brighton’s squad, he assessed: “They do have an edge in terms of squad lists and who people know, but if we believed that, we’d start losing. Going back to the point about when we lost the players who got us promoted, ten of them went and we lost some more, making 12.
“We lost 12 of that 18 but I think we have a better team now. We’ve always done it, we were low on numbers, we lost two of our centre-midfielders, George Moncur has been in the building all January and we’ve been working hard with him.
“It’s one of the ways we have to try and bridge the gap, we haven’t got the players on the salary on the bench, we haven’t got the experience or the household names, but we’ve got players who are committed to what we try and do.
“They want to win the game, enjoy being here and love being part of the team, and if you’ve got that, you’ve got a big chance.”
Tickets are still available for this weekend's visit of Brighton, and next weekend's clash with Huddersfield Town! To get yours, CLICK HERE! To view this morning's press conference in full on Barnsley PlayerHD,CLICK HERE!