NO CONOR... NO PROB­LEM FOR TYKES

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Jonathan Valen­tine

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MATCHWINNER: Adam Arm­strong fires home the only goal for Barns­ley

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