Rovers ‘must stick to­gether’

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

TONY MOW­BRAY called for his Black­burn side to stick to­gether in the fight against rel­e­ga­tion as Rovers suf­fered de­feat to Barns­ley at Ewood Park.

Marc Roberts and Mar­ley Watkins strikes in the first 10 min­utes were enough for the Tykes to claim their first win in nine and leave Black­burn with five games to beat the drop.

With clashes against Not­ting­ham For­est and Bris­tol City on the hori­zon and four points from safety, Mow­bray is un­der no il­lu­sions at the size of the task ahead.

“It’s a time to stick to­gether, it’s a time not to pick holes in each other, it’s a time to find a team spirit that will hope­fully get us some re­sults,” he said.

“We gave our­selves a moun­tain to climb af­ter 10 min­utes be­cause of the na­ture of the team we were play­ing against.

“It’s al­ways been a big job. If you’re look­ing for a pos­i­tive and a light at the end of the tun­nel, the next two games are against For­est and Bris­tol City and we have to go and try and take max­i­mum points from that of course.”

Barns­ley’s Ge­orge Mon­cur got the bet­ter of El­liott Ben­nett and fizzed a pow­er­ful third­minute ef­fort which Ja­son Steele par­ried wide.

But from the re­sult­ing cor­ner An­gus Mac­Don­ald headed on for cen­tral de­fen­sive part­ner Roberts to nod home at the far post and give the Tykes an early ad­van­tage.

The vis­i­tors dou­bled their lead on 10 min­utes when Watkins’ fierce long-range strike went in off Steele’s cross­bar, de­spite the goal­keeper’s best ef­forts to parry the bounc­ing ball away.

Stunned Black­burn nearly re­sponded when Lu­cas Joao slipped in Ben­nett, but he was un­able to make proper con­tact with the 19th-minute op­por­tu­nity.

Mon­cur un­leashed a low drive mo­ments later which Steele claimed, while Tom­mie Hoban’s header from Con­nor Ma­honey’s cor­ner floated inches wide.

Ryan Kent cut in­side to fire a low shot straight at Steele four min­utes from the break as the York­shire side con­tin­ued to look com­fort­able.

Ma­honey’s silky skills on 50 min­utes led to a curl­ing ef­fort which sailed wide while Reds winger Kent showed sim­i­lar abil­i­ties at the other end two min­utes later and fired off tar­get.

Black­burn sub­sti­tute Sam Gal­lagher forced Adam Davies into a point-blank save af­ter head­ing Ben­nett’s 68th-minute free-kick, but was flagged off­side.

Mon­cur cleared Der­rick Wil­liams’ header from Ma­honey’s 73rd-minute cor­ner off the line and Gal­lagher later cut in­side from the left to fizz a low ef­fort inches wide.

Tykes boss Paul Heckingbottom chal­lenged his team to be the best Barns­ley side since the 2000 class which reached the play-offs as they sealed their Cham­pi­onship sta­tus for next sea­son.

“I’m de­lighted but we’ve also set the play­ers a lit­tle tar­get of fin­ish­ing with as many wins as losses min­i­mum, plus goal dif­fer­ence, so we’re on course,” he said.

“It was im­por­tant that they re­alised what they’re do­ing com­pared to what’s gone be­fore and they’ve got a real chance to put their name as one of the best Barns­ley teams. In terms of the money we’ve spent and the bud­get we’ve got, it’s an un­be­liev­able achieve­ment.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

ALL SMILES: Marc Roberts cel­e­brates Barns­ley’s first goal with Josh Scowen

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