Following the Reds’ 3-0 success against Walsall, Caretaker Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom maintained that the Reds are not home and dry just yet.
A brace from Sam Winnall and Adam Hammill’s deflected strike has given Barnsley a healthy advantage heading into Thursday’s clash at the Banks’s Stadium.
But Heckingbottom stated that a lot can change in 90 minutes and the Reds must stay focused on their own goal in order to succeed.
He said: “We’re over the moon with that but it is only half time in the tie, and 3-0 up at half time is something we’ll take.
“That’s the reward and we’ve put ourselves into a good position. We’ve not got what we’re after yet. We have to go at it with the same mindset and same approach and focus and determination on Thursday.
“It’s the drive and determination that’s got us where we are and that’s what we have to keep. The challenge is to win on Thursday because we have to approach it the same way.
“How do you set a team up to defend a 3-0 lead? You don’t. We have to go and win the game, we have a way of playing and we aim to do that every game.
“We just have to focus on certain aspects dependent on the opposition and adapt. We’ll go at it in the same way, demand the same things and hopefully get the same result.”
In front of the biggest crowd of the season, the Reds produced one of their most comprehensive displays to beat a Walsall side that has been challenging for the league title all season.
The Caretaker Head Coach praised the efforts of the fans and encouraged them to keep on believing in the squad and their dream of reaching the League One play-off final.
“The fans can sing that as much as they want because that’s what we’re playing for. You want them to enjoy it and get as much out of it but we have to have a different mindset.
“I’d rather them sing it because it spurs the lads on and makes the atmosphere great. We demand more of ourselves than that, we know how hard we have to work for every win and we need to do that on Thursday.
“The most pleasing thing is for the players and the fans together and in our last game here this season, they sent the fans home happy and they’ve had the chance to thank the players for a good season.
“It’s good to leave them out there to soak all that up, especially winning big games like that,” he added.
The excitement of the play-offs is something that the entire Reds squad has been embracing and Heckingbottom insisted that this extra buzz has heightened spirits.
He hopes the tensions will be somewhat eased with a positive result on Thursday night given the position the Reds find themselves in but can take nothing for granted.
“The thing about the play-offs is that they’re set up as the best way to get promoted, but only because of the tension,” he said.
“People say if you can guarantee going up through the play-offs it’d be the best way but if you’re guaranteed to go up that way, it loses all of the tension.
“The tenser and more exciting it is, the bigger the joy at the end. We know what we’re fighting for and we’ve put ourselves in a good position and we’ll go to win on Thursday night.”
Heckingbottom praised the work-rate of forward Winnall and winger Lloyd Isgrove, who had a goal wrongly disallowed midway through the first half.
He hopes the duo can be major catalysts in the Reds’ bid for a return to Wembley later this month.
Heckingbottom said: “Sam’s coming into his goalscoring form again, similar to how he was in January but when he scores we generally win games.
“Sam had given his everything as he always does and after 65 minutes, he was flagging but he’d put us in a really good position.
“He can save those minutes in his legs and they might be vital on Thursday.
“The reason I was gutted the goal was chalked off is because it was Izzy, he deserves a goal, he’s put in many a performance like that and set the tempo. It would have been a just reward for him that goal.”