Written by Ian Hope @halftimepiesite
- 3 Wins in a row
- 3 clean sheets in a row
- 3 points from safety for Barnsley
“Three the magic number” as the song goes but why should it stop there? With an away game to come at Reading and home game against Cardiff City, we should be betting on the run continuing. If the reds carry on playing the way they have for the last three games you can see more points on the board.
The doom and gloom that surrounded the home defeat to Birmingham City seems to have lifted. Manager Gerhard Struber admitted that everyone sat down after that demoralising defeat and had an honest talk. Whatever was discussed it appears to have worked. Certainly during the first half last night at Hull City, if you didn’t know anything about the Championship you would have thought the team in red and white were in the top 8 and not at the bottom of the table such was the football on display. At half time, Barnsley had 13 chances away from home and Hull only had the one. So what has happened to turn things around?
Since Mads Andersen was taken out of the firing line and Bambo Diaby was banned for failing a drugs test, the individual errors have ceased. In came Sollbauer who has looked at ease in the Championship and appeared to settle everyone else down in defence. Paired with the reliable Halme, both keep the game simple and are comfortable in possession. In the previous three games when faced with the expensive forward lines amassed especially by Fulham and Middlesbrough, the reds have looked comfortable. Credit too goes to Brad Collins in goal who has pulled off a number of quality saves when called upon.
The reds have played a high press for the last couple of seasons but since the loss to Birmingham there appears a new zest in the press employed by Struber. Starting from the front, Jacob Brown and Conor Chaplin have chased down defenders relentlessly and been willing runners when chasing balls into the channels.
All over the pitch the Tykes have pressured the man on the ball forcing errors and teams onto the back foot. The full backs shootout to the wingers pushing them back and with Alex Mowatt sitting in front of the defence acting as a quarterback dictating the play it all adds to up a well balanced and attacking style of play.
In the second half at Fulham, the reds played long balls into the channels for Brown, Woodrow and Chaplin to run onto with great effect. Struber hasn’t employed a long ball policy to a big man like a Niall Quinn type player, this is a tactic that forces defenders on their heels one they hate when quick wingers are running at them with the ball and with reinforcements arriving from midfield.
The same tactic was employed at Hull too with great effect and why so many chances were created. An urgency to get the ball forward, creating opportunities has worked well. Had the reds finished better in that first half, last nights result would have looked more like the Fulham one such was their dominance.
In game tactics
Gerhard Struber has shown his in-game tactics recently when tightening the side up defensively to see games out. Against Middlesbrough and Hull the reds saw the game out where previously individual errors would have dropped two points.
Last night Struber brought on Ludewig for Oduor which was a defensive move. With Ritzmaier coming on who tracked back, the reds were confident to settle for the 1-0 win with twenty minutes to go. A confidence in the defensive side of the team we haven’t seen all season. The Hull victory was another game where I felt comfortable going into the final ten minutes and not hanging on or biting nails such was the press and defensive cohesion in the side.
With a better final ball or finishing the game would have been over by half time but with over twenty chances created in the whole game, surely it is better to create and miss chances than to struggle creating chances at all?
Whilst Hull were very poor, sitting back and offering little pressure on the reds defence Barnsley played some neat football and were comfortable in possession. When Hull had got the half time boos out of their heads, they upped their game but throughout Barnsley were compact and in control. An impressive away performance full of confidence has everyone looking forward to the next game. Despite all three relegation threatened sides winning in the same week for the first time this season, the likes of Huddersfield, Middlesbrough and Stoke have got dragged back into the battle. The more sides the better for Barnsley. Long may this run continue.