Following our sixth victory in December, Valérien Ismaël expressed his delight at the hard work and dedication of his players and staff during a gruelling schedule.
Barnsley ran out 2-1 winners against Rotherham United – a third Yorkshire derby triumph this month – which, at the end of play on Tuesday, left the Reds just two points outside the Sky Bet Championship play-off spots.
“Congratulations to the guys and thank you for the big win,” began Ismaël. “It was another forceful performance and, when you see in December, we have had eight games and won six.
“Congratulations for the commitment from the guys and the staff, I think it was the perfect finish for 2020 and now we have to stay focused for 2021. If you see the schedule for January, it will be a tough month for us but I think with this win, the confidence from the performance and the mentality we saw we are prepared for this month.”
Despite Michael Smith’s second half header, Barnsley never looked likely to surrender an advantage gained early on through Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt.
The Reds came flying out of the blocks at the AESSEAL New York Stadium and our Head Coach admits it was pleasing to see his side buck the trend of conceding the first goal.
“It was important to start very well in the game with two perfect goals,” continued Ismaël. “We were very clinical in the first half but, in the second half, it was a fight – we expected this with a lot of duels and second balls and we conceded another set-piece goal.
“This is an area we have to work on in 2021 because we are not happy with this and it’s good to see that we have some areas to improve and to stay focused. We need some more wins to get our purpose as quick as possible.”
Ismaël also handed a debut to Jasper Moon, who was introduced for the skipper, Mowatt, with three minutes remaining against the Millers.
The young defender has been knocking on the door for some time now with a number of impressive performances at academy level and our Head Coach believes he has more than merited his opportunity.
“Jasper is a young guy who is very quiet but very focused and ready to work hard,” asserted Ismaël. “He has asked a lot of questions since I’ve been here to try to understand, even when he’s not playing and, for us, it’s a good feeling to see that a young guy like that is ready to learn.
“I think it was the right moment for him to play; it’s another good move for a young player to have the chance when the time has come and this is our message – stay this way, work hard and wait for your chance to come.”
You can watch Valérien's post-match interview on iFollow Barnsley.