JABO KEEPS SPIRITS HIGH AT BARNSLEY
Ibehre leveller denies Preston
BARNSLEY’S spirit is driving their play-off push, according to manager Lee Johnson, after Jabo Ibehre came off the bench and netted to earn the Tykes a draw with Preston North End.
The Reds hit back to pick up a point through Ibehre’s late header, cancelling out Joe Garner’s first-half opener for the visitors.
North End, spurred on by 3,000 travelling supporters at Oakwell, remain second and three points in front of Swindon.
As for Barnsley, this result means it is now eight games without defeat and they sit just a point outside the top six.
“I’m disappointed not get the win but when you’re 1-0 down at half-time against a side like Preston, you’re happy with a point,” said Johnson.
“We’ve got to stick in there. Don’t forget where we’ve come from. There’s going to be a spiral effect and there will be plenty of shuffling in the pack. The fact is that we’re still in with a shout.
“If we can show spirit like we did today then we’ll be okay. It was a good advert for League One football.
“It was a good little move down the right for our goal. We had a couple of good chances and got into some good areas.
“In the second half I thought we were the better side. We had a lot of territory, a lot of possession and we had them on the ropes. I’m pleased for Jabo because he needs goals, and he’ll be cock-a-hoop with that goal.” The first notable chance of the game saw Barnsley’s John O’Sullivan hit a dipping effort which clipped the outside of a Preston post.
Joe Garner then looked destined to score for the visitors when he connected with Paul Gallagher’s centre but Barnsley keeper Adam Davies pulled off a tremendous save.
The ex-Everton stopper spread his body to do enough to prevent Garner from opening the scoring from only a couple of yards out. Garner then squandered another golden chance when he was unmarked inside the box but daw- dled and saw his subsequent effort blocked by a retreating Barnsley defender.
However, eight minutes before the break Garner broke the deadlock when he finally rediscovered his predatory instincts.
Callum Robinson tricked and teased on the wing, beat his marker and hung a cross in the box which eventually dropped to Garner who gleefully smashed home to send the Preston fans into jubilation.
Barnsley came out fighting in the second half and skipper Martin Cranie came close, heading just over early on as the hosts ramped up the pressure.
Debutant Cameron Stewart, who Johnson admitted afterwards only joined up with the players two hours before kick-off, then half-volleyed wide from six yards out in what was a gilt-edged chance for the hosts to level the scores.
Johnson then brought on Dale Jen- nings and Ibehre and it didn’t take the latter too long to get his name on the scoresheet.
Mason Holgate whipped in a ball and big frontman Ibehre was in the right place to direct a header into the net – with Barnsley’s first shot on target.
Despite efforts from Preston to try and nab a late winner, Barnsley’s back line stayed defiant as they held out for a worthy point.
North End boss Simon Grayson says he was happy with his side’s display and insists the point gained takes them a step closer to a return to the Championship.
“We knew we had to battle and scrap today,” said Grayson.“But, if we take another 27 league points then we are promoted.
“We have gained seven points this week by playing in very different ways and if you’d offered me two wins and a draw then we’d have taken that.”
GARNERING INTEREST: Joe Garner opens the scoring for Preston
STAR MAN JOHN O’SULL