Despite falling to defeat at Watford on Tuesday evening, Valérien Ismaël remained optimistic about another encouraging performance against one of the Sky Bet Championship’s high-fliers.
A first-half Troy Deeney penalty was all that separated the two sides on a blustery night at Vicarage Road, with Barnsley more than matching a team that was in the Premier League not too long ago.
“It was another great performance for the guys; I think we were in the game all the time from the first minute until the last minute – we were very strong,” began Ismaël. “We were excellent in our press situation and created a lot of chances in the first half, and I think that the penalty, for sure, was the big decision.
“But I think the performance until the end – we stayed alive in the game and they guys showed mentality. We were much better in the defensive set-pieces, we avoided the mistakes and, as you can see, if we do our job with our way to play football, we have, all the time, the chance to score at any moment. That’s why it’s a good feeling to see that we can compete.
“It was the third game in a row against the top three in the Championship and we are close, we are really close. We have to stay that way, work on it and reward ourselves because we deserve to make the next step at this level.”
While the Hornets narrowly shaded possession, Barnsley created more opportunities but were unable to force Daniel Bachmann into action. In fact, the closest the visitors came was through a wayward Francisco Sierralta header that he almost diverted beyond his own goalkeeper.
But there were encouraging signs from the Reds, who played some lovely, intricate football at times and more than matched their hosts.
“I think we have to stay that way,” continued Ismaël. “The guys have to believe more and more every game that we can compete and we can adapt and now, with Carlton Morris, we have another possibility – we saw his quality again.
“We need to work hard; we have a work ethic with our players and a way to play football. Now we have to be focused to change the course, start winning again and to score again.”
You can watch Valérien’s post-match interview on iFollow Barnsley.