NO CONOR... NO PROBLEM FOR TYKES
BARNSLEY proved there is life after Conor Hourihane with a South Yorkshire derby win at Rotherham which left boss Paul Heckingbottom purring.
The Reds lost their star man, as well as James Bree to Aston Villa this week, but they strengthened their play-off ambitions thanks to Adam Armstrong’s second-half winner.
It was a moment of quality, from Ryan Kent’s defence-splitting pass to a cute finish by Armstrong and it made light of Hourihane’s absence.
There was more drama after the game as the New York Stadium was evacuated when a suspicious package was found, leaving the players outside still in their kit, though it turned out to be a false alarm.
Hourihane, who had been involved in almost 50 per cent of Barnsley’s goals this season will be a big loss, but Heckingbottom was delighted he has players who can produce something special now the midfielder has gone.
“I’m pleased to come out with the three points,” he said.
“I thought it was exactly like a derby, not a huge amount of quality but a lot of endeavour, fullblooded and really competitive.
“There were two moments of quality from us and they mattered.
“One was Kenty playing the ball through the fullback for Arma and the second was him tucking it away, which I thought was a fantastic finish.
“Rotherham tried to make it difficult for us and we had to really match what they threw at us.
“Then as the match wore on we got more and more on top, then finished the game the stronger.”
Man-of-the-match Angus MacDonald could be the next one to leave Oakwell after reported interest in him this January, but he wants to hang around for a push for back-to-back promotions.
“Normally, it falls away a bit after Christmas but it is still so tight up there and we believe we can get in,” he said.
“We have taken six points from two derbies games, so you can see the desire from the lads. Everywere one wants to get into the Premier League.”
Rotherham are almost certainly going to be leaving the division at the other end after a 17th defeat of the season, though they were in the game for large parts.
They hit the post at the end of the first half and then dominated the start of the second period but unable to make the breakthrough and were then undone at the other end.
Boss Paul Warne, who saw his side slip to 11 points from safety, said: “It was a tight game. I thought the lads went toe-to-toe with them but we need to score when we are on top.
“The game is decided by the smallest of margins.
“After 60 minutes I thought it had 0-0 written all over it. That wasn’t the case.
“I don’t think we played our best football and I don’t think Barnsley did either, the game could have gone either way.
“I really like Barnsley, they have got pace throughout the team.
“Unfortunately we didn't create a chance as clear-cut as theirs.
“It’s not like I have got Lady Luck with me at the minute. The lads are giving me everything, we lost two to injury and Richard Wood was like the walking dead at the end.
“I’m disappointed but I have got a bit of pride that the lads have given me all they have got.”
MATCHWINNER: Adam Armstrong fires home the only goal for Barnsley