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11 August 2022



11 August 2022

Speaking after our 1-0 victory at the Riverside in the Carabao Cup first round against Middlesbrough, Michael Duff praised his side's doggedness and determination.

A late Josh Benson goal sealed the Reds' place in the next round of the competition in a tight affair on Teesside.

Despite being under the cosh for periods of the game, our Head Coach was pleased with his side's ability to stay in the game and ride the storm.

"Really pleased," opened Duff. "A really hard night. We had to show a lot of spirit, sweat, togetherness. But, all those things give you a chance to nick it at the end. 

"We've had to ride our luck at times. Jack's [Walton] made a big save in the first minute. The ball flashed across the box a lot, but actual clear-cut opportunities, I don't think there were loads. 

"We had a few moments ourselves. Obviously, it's always nice to win a game."

In warm conditions, the Reds were dogged and dug deep to stay in the game despite Middlesbrough pressure. 

The Northern Irishman was impressed with the Reds' application on Wednesday evening against experienced Championship players.

"They've probably not had to work as hard as that in a game," he admitted. "We've had three games now, we've worked a lot harder in two than the other and we've won the games.

"It's not quite that simple, we've had to ride our luck, but we've come up against a very good team. They've made some changes, we've made some changes. They sort of tweaked what they did at half-time, we had to change our shape 15 minutes in because we thought if we just keep doing this, we're going to get beat.

"The lads took information on, and ultimately, put their bodies on the line for each other."

Defending is an art form our 'gaffer' takes seriously, plying his trade at the heart of the defence for both Cheltenham Town and Burnley.

Despite a changed backline and goalkeeper, the Reds managed to keep consecutive clean sheets at the Riverside on Wednesday evening, and the 44-year-old was particularly happy with that stat.

"It's always pleasing." Duff admitted.

"We're not quite where we want to be at the top end of the pitch, so you've got to find a way to win, find a way of staying in games. Even if you've got a 40 goal striker in your team, you still need to keep clean sheets. 

"Good defenders make good decisions, so it's getting them in the right positions and communication. I think it shows that all of them are involved in all of the defending sessions and hopefully it shows that again, the unit is more powerful than one individual."

This victory means the Reds will progress into the second round of the Carabao Cup to take on Leeds United at Elland Road.

Our Head Coach wants his team to approach the game similarly to how they did on Wednesday evening and play with no fear.

"I think the locals will be happy with it!" smiled Duff.

"They're the games that as a player you want to play in. It's going to be a difficult one obviously, but we said it today - go there, it's a free hit.

"No-one expected us to come here and win today, and it'll be the same. There'll definitely be a few more Barnsley fans, I'm not sure about Leeds fans.

"It's great, they're the games you want to be involved in."

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