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Paul Heckingbottom's Aston Villa Reaction.

21 January 2018

The Reds Gaffer was reacting to the 3-1 defeat against high-flying Aston Villa in the Sky Bet Championship.

Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom has described his team’s start to Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa as ‘scandalous’, and insists there will be significant improvement.

The Reds were left with a huge task at Villa Park after finding themselves 2-0 down in seven minutes, and trailing 3-1 before the 20-minute mark despite Dimitri Cavare’s first goal for the club.

“The goals we conceded were shocking,” the Head Coach admitted.

“For [Scott] Hogan’s first goal, there were four defenders around him. [Hogan] was the smallest man in the box when he scored the second one, and for the third goal, we had a chance to clear the ball, and then we left the space open for Conor [Hourihane] to run in and score.

“It left us on the back foot straight away. The first two goals in particular… you can’t be conceding them like that.”

Hecky claimed the Reds began the match with too much respect for Steve Bruce’s side and were submissive in the first quarter of the game.

“Not many teams go 2-0 down at Villa inside seven minutes and win the game, and we paid them far too much respect. When you do that and miss chances at the other end, you’re not going to win.

“We submitted a bit, and let them dictate everything. We get ourselves back in the game and have some nice passages of play, but ultimately it’s disappointing and not a start to a game I want to be associated with." 

The boss reverted to the usual back four at the break after starting with five in defence, a system which he said looked encouraging on the training field prior to Saturday. 

“We worked on the system of five at the back on Thursday and we were good and aggressive with it, there was cover when the wing-backs attacked, but we do it here and Villa just get their tails up straight away when they score that first goal. 

“We went with three centre-halves to give protection to the midfield. We didn’t have any defensive-minded midfielder available in there, so we wanted the third centre-back to always take the runner and push the wing-backs higher.

“The shape had nothing to do with the shocking way we conceded the goals, and I thought about changing it after 25 minutes so no one had any excuses.”

Acknowledging the drastic improvement from the Reds in the second half, Hecky stated he looks for that demonstrated ‘fearlessness’ from the first whistle.

“When you’re 3-1 down, what have you got to lose? When you’re playing against opponents like Aston Villa and Wolves, you have to have that fearless attitude.

“If we’d taken some of our chances, some of the lads could have got their teammates out of trouble and, yes, we could even have gone on and won 4-3, but that would’ve been some turnaround.”

Young winger Dylan Mottley-Henry entered the fray in the second half at Villa Park for his full Reds debut, and the manager was impressed by the 20-year-old’s performance before stating he is needed in the first team this campaign, following his loan spell at Tranmere Rovers.

“Dylan did well, it was a good opportunity for him. We changed the shape, he loves to play wide and it’s in his nature to attack, so it was perfect to bring him on in that situation where he has the freedom to go out and enjoy himself.

“We still need to bring players in, but as it stands, I’ve told [Dylan] he’s going nowhere, because he’s needed.”

With the subject naturally moving to the January transfer window, the boss is sure there will be further additions brought in following the recent capture of Spanish left-back Dani Pinillos from Cordoba. 

“[Dani] gives us another left-footed option at left-back along with Zeki [Fryers]; he wasn’t involved this weekend due to international clearance and the fact we haven’t got him out on the grass yet."

Paul's post-match interview is over on iFollow.

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