Martin Devaney praised his side’s character after Barnsley U23s came from 3-1 down to snatch a point against Hull City on Monday night.
The young Reds struck twice in stoppage time through Louis Wardle and Elvis Otim to move within two points of sixth place Sheffield United, who lost 1-0 against Professional Development League leaders Leeds United.
“I’m buzzing with the character that the team showed to come from two goals down late on – that’s what a Barnsley team is all about,” said Devaney. “We played very open and created lots of chances, and we got our reward in the end because we never gave in.
“Confidence is still really high because of this fantastic run that we’re on, and we go into every game believing that we can win. Some of the boys that came in were lacking game time, but they certainly weren’t lacking effort.”
Another positive for Barnsley was the return of Matty Wolfe, who has been side-lined through injury for the past 12 months.
The young midfielder was replaced at half-time by Otim as he gradually works his way back to full fitness, and Devaney was thrilled to have him back on the field.
“Everyone at the club is delighted for Matty to play 45 minutes – it’s a big moment for him after everything he’s been through and you can see how much it means to him,” continued the U23s coach.
“We’re also really pleased for Louis and Elvis – the goals were so well-taken and it’s what they’re both capable of. Elvis deserves that, it’s his first goal for the club so we’re thrilled for him and he’s done really well this season so far.”
After bagging his first Reds goal, Otim lauded the spirit that his teammates showed to fight from two goals behind so late on.
The 20-year-old has been virtually ever-present for Devaney’s side this campaign since arriving at Oakwell in the summer, and was even amongst the substitutes as the first team beat Bradford City 2-1 in the Checkatrade Trophy back in November.
“We’re a great bunch of lads, we always stick together and we’ll always fight to the end to get a result,” asserted Otim. “There’s lots of belief because we’ve had a good run of games and we’re playing well. We didn’t play that well against Hull, but we’ve got a positive result and that’s all that matters.
“I’m really pleased; I’m not one to score a lot of goals, but I got in the right position and luckily the ball fell to me and I could stick it in the back of the net. It’s my first goal for the club, and if I can start getting into the box a bit more I’ve always got a chance.”
Fellow goal scorer, Wardle, was also full of praise for his side’s mentality, insisting that this time last year it would have been a case of role-reversal with the Reds on the receiving end of demoralising late rally.
However, the players are full of confidence and it stems from their own self-belief, with the versatile youngster entering the pitch knowing he would have a positive impact on proceedings.
“I was saying to the lads on the bench that when I come on in the second half that, no matter what time I come on, I’m going to score,” said Wardle.
“I think if that was us in their position last season, 3-1 up in the 90th minute, we’d have conceded twice. Obviously, that’s changed this season and we’ve got a lot more character that we didn’t have last year.
“This run can keep going – we’ve lost once in seven games and I think we’re really strong at the moment so there’s no reason why we can’t keep going.”