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Tonge: "We want to go up."

28 February 2019

Dale Tonge insists Barnsley’s sole aim for this campaign is to secure promotion from Sky Bet League One.

The Reds are on the road again on Saturday following last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Fratton Park against rivals Portsmouth – a result that stretched our magnificent unbeaten run to 14 games.

This time it’s a trip Southend United, where Daniel Stendel’s side have already triumphed this season in the Emirates FA Cup second round.

Barnsley also won the reverse fixture in the league back in November and another victory at Roots Hall would tighten the Reds’ grip on second place.

“We’re looking at automatic; we want to go up,” asserted Tonge. “We want to win every game – that’s our only aim. If we fall short of that, we’ll plan for that eventuality when we get there. But our aim is to win every game and, we know if we do that, we’ve got the opportunity of going up.

“The boys rarely focus on any negatives, so they’re a great group to work with because everything is just positive. So I know if there was to be any negativity moving forward that they’d react well and it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Southend haven’t picked up all three points on home soil since a 2-0 victory over Gillingham on New Year’s Day.

Chris Powell’s side have only won one of their last eight fixtures since then, although they staged a memorable fightback against Portsmouth a fortnight ago.

The Shrimpers, 3-0 down after 31 minutes, turned the game on its head courtesy of a Simon Cox hat-trick in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Roots Hall, and Tonge is wary of the threat posed by Saturday’s hosts.

“They’ve clearly got resilience and outstanding individuals in terms of Cox, who is a wily old pro, you’d call him now – I know he’s had a bit of fun on Twitter about that with a Sky Sports presenter,” continued the Reds’ Assistant. “He’s a class act, especially for this level, and it’s been demonstrated with his goals and assists and he’s an integral part of their team.

“The position they are in the table I think, given a fully fit squad they wouldn’t be there; the squad that they have got is capable of being in the play-offs, in my opinion. I think they’ve been unfortunate with circumstances in their squad this year.”

You can watch Dale’s full press conference on iFollow Barnsley.

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