Barnsley Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom was impressed with the way in which his side stood up to Preston North End in this afternoon’s 0-0 draw at Oakwell.
Given Preston’s game plan, Heckingbottom felt the Reds did almost everything right to keep chances to a minimum and countered their strategy well.
On the whole, the Head Coach felt the Reds did create opportunities to win the game, but couldn't quite find the breakthrough in what proved to be an end-to-end encounter.
He assessed his side’s performance, saying: “I thought we coped with what Preston threw at us, they picked a big, physical side and were very direct in their play, and went with a lot more defensive-minded players than they have in the last few games.
“Reading Simon’s quotes before the game, that was obviously their game plan, they wanted to come here with a tough side and put themselves about, so we knew what to expect when we saw the team.
“I thought we coped with that well, but flip that, us in possession, we didn’t do enough to win the game. We huffed and puffed and probably shaded the attempts on goal, but we didn’t have enough quality in that final third.”
The Reds are ninth in the Championship table after the goalless draw, five points outside the play-off places, as the season enters its final third.
‘Hecky’ feels that the importance of tonight’s point cannot be underestimated and stated that had the Reds have won the game, his focus would not have changed.
He added: “I’d never turn down a point, never ever, today is one of them for me where even if we had have got a winner at the end, I’d have still been thinking the same things I am now.
“Where can we improve, what do we need to do, because I knew before the game started, my priority would be lots of new players, how do we make our team better as quickly as possible.
“That’s what I was watching in the game all the time and when I watch the video back, I’ll be doing the same.
“We always look at us and our team and how we set up and it’s apparent we’ve got a new side with lots of new players and I could see that in the performance today.
“The energy and effort was there but we’ve got lots of work to do to get back to the levels of where we were and even better.”
Adam Davies pulled off a fine save at the end of the game to deny Jordan Hugill from snatching a winner for the visitors and preserve his clean sheet in the process.
In a quiet game, ‘Hecky’ assessed the importance of that save and noted Davies’ performance as a whole.
“The only thing he had to do besides that (save) was kick the ball, and his kicking was good as well. He’s had very little to do but he’s performed his part in a clean sheet.
“He’s was called upon for one save at the end and he’s made it so, a very quiet game for Adam but he’s done everything we could have asked of him,” he reflected.
Barnsley handed debuts to new signings Ryan Hedges and Callum Elder and the Head Coach assessed their contribution to the team this afternoon.
“I’m pleased, I’m glad we’ve given them the game time now,” he said. “They’re in the building and straight in the mix, but there’s going to be lots of hard work from us, the staff and the players to understand what’s expected of them, and to improve themselves and the team.”
Watch Hecky's full post match interview now on Barnsley Player HD!