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Tonge: "They've grown as a group."

14 March 2019

Dale Tonge believes that the players’ underlying mentality is crucial to Barnsley’s recent run of fine form.

The Reds travel to Doncaster Rovers on Friday evening for a crunch Sky Bet League One clash looking to make it 18-games unbeaten and tighten their grip on second place.

Five consecutive clean sheets have further emphasised Barnsley’s credentials as one of the favourites to seal promotion when the season draws to a close in May, with 18 in all competitions this campaign.

“I think it shows focus, resilience and a togetherness, more than anything, in adversity with circumstances like injuries and things that are out of our control,” insisted Tonge.

“It’s been great to see, from our point of view, that the boys have taken it on themselves, they’ve grown as a group together and nothing has changed – they’re still doing the same things in training and away from the club, so it’s been great.”

This will be the Reds’ third game in seven days following the 2-0 win over Accrington Stanley on Saturday and the invaluable point against Sunderland in midweek.

The blustery conditions at Oakwell on Tuesday evening made it difficult for the players to find their attacking rhythm against the Black Cats, but Barnsley were unfortunate not to claim all three points against their promotion rivals.

Mamadou Thiam rattled the crossbar in the first half, while Cauley Woodrow saw his header ruled out for offside after the interval as Daniel Stendel’s side maintained a four-point gap to third place Sunderland.

“I don’t think conditions suited us in terms of our style of play, but I think the magnitude of the game took a lot out of the players, psychologically, as well, so it was good to have a down day yesterday – not too intense – and we’ll look to pick up again against Doncaster,” continued Tonge.

“The Gaffer mentioned it, especially after, the mentality of the boys to keep a clean sheet in a game of that magnitude was a big statement because, although chances were few and far between, I think the boys at the back looked comfortable.

“So it was a strong performance in tough conditions, especially in the second half when they had the wind with them; they went very direct and it’s tough sometimes to play those games and dealt with it very well.”

Doncaster come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Blackpool on Tuesday evening.

Tommy Rowe’s equaliser 17 minutes from time cancelled out Michael Nottingham’s opener to salvage a point for Grant McCann’s side, who haven’t won in their last five league outings.

However, despite Rovers’ poor run of results, Tonge is anticipating a tough Yorkshire derby at the Keepmoat Stadium – especially given Donny’s performance in the reverse fixture this campaign. 

“They were outstanding here, in the home game – I think they’re the best team that have come to us this season, so we’re expecting the same when we go there,” asserted the Reds’ Assistant.

“We’re not looking at past results; we’re expecting the best Doncaster team to come and play us. It’s a big occasion and they’re looking to get back a bit of momentum for themselves, and it’s on Sky so we’re expecting a big performance from Doncaster.

“I know Grant personally from being here; he’s doing a fantastic job and he’s a great character – honest and hardworking. As a player, he was quite demanding of other players so it’s no surprise that he’s got the best out of young and old players.

“I think the style of play they have as well is exciting to watch; they score a lot of goals and in John Marquis they’ve got a good player. Again, I played with John so I know what he’s like and what he’s capable of, and I think he can play higher.”

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

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