Following our 2-1 victory over Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon, Michael Duff insisted there have been signs of progress since he walked through the door at Oakwell this summer.
The Reds have applied themselves well during pre-season, putting in several good performances – particularly against higher league opposition in Nottingham Forest and, latterly, the Blades.
“Obviously, the result is nice, but it wasn’t even the result – I thought we looked similar to what we did last week; we were organised and compact against a really good team,” began Duff.
“There was just one lapse in concentration right at the end of the first half which cost us the goal, and we rode our luck a little bit at the start of the second half, but we’re really pleased with the attitude and application of the players – things that we’ve been working on have been coming out.
“We’re a long way from the finished article, but there’s signs of progress.”
Strikes from Jack Aitchison and Josh Benson were enough to complete a second half turnaround for Barnsley, who trailed to Robbie Cundy’s unfortunate own goal just before the break.
Duff praised the character of his squad to keep working hard throughout the contest and, ultimately, secure a positive result from what was a pleasing display.
“I think the application of the players has been brilliant – that’s all I can ask; for enthusiasm, being receptive for different information, and they’ve all bought in,” he continued.
“You can see that the structure of the team looks OK – it can still get better, obviously. To score two goals was nice; we probably bought a bit of luck but earnt it with the mistake and then there was a bit of brilliance.
“But to stay in the game long enough to allow that moment of brilliance to win the game was the pleasing thing because it’s the structure we’re trying to build on.”
The winning goal was a moment of magic from Benson, who whipped a magnificent free-kick into the top corner from 25-yards.
Our midfielder had come close in the first half, forcing Wes Foderingham into a flying save and, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.
“They practice it all the time,” admitted Duff. “Josh actually got a bit of stick last week because he couldn’t get anywhere near the target, but he’s done it on matchday.
“That’s just an individual thing; it’s not something I particularly concern myself with – I’m more bothered about how the team looked as a unit and that’s the bit I was pleased with.”
With pre-season now over, attention turns to our Sky Bet League One campaign with a trip to Plymouth Argyle the first assignment of the campaign.
A perfectionist, Duff says he would like more time to prepare, but is eagerly anticipating getting underway at Home Park.
“You never feel ready,” discussed the Reds’ Head Coach. “You could give me another six weeks and I wouldn’t feel ready because there’s loads of details you want to get into them.
“But I just said to them there, don’t get carried away with yourselves because you’ve had a couple of good performances in pre-season – the real work starts next week. So, I wouldn’t say confident is the word.
“I’m looking forward to it, but the real work starts now. We want to show all the right traits that we’ve already shown and give ourselves a chance.”