Rovers ‘must stick together’
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.”
ALL SMILES: Marc Roberts celebrates Barnsley’s first goal with Josh Scowen