Back on track as Mowatt en­sures Oak­well re­mains a fortress for Reds

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - ROBERT GLED­HILL AT OAK­WELL ■ Email: robert.gled­hill@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

BARNS­LEY made the grade even though they were not in top form in ex­tend­ing their un­beaten run at Oak­well to 11 matches.

Head coach Daniel Sten­del had noticed a dip in con­fi­dence af­ter two de­feats on the road so it was im­por­tant that they got back to win­ning ways.

Equally so was the abil­ity to cope with­out Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional and mid­field play-maker Kenny Dougall, who could be miss­ing un­til the New Year af­ter dam­ag­ing lig­a­ments in the 3-1 mid­week de­feat at Shrews­bury.

It was not only his mid­field part­ner, Alex Mowatt, who stepped up to the plate but deputy Cameron McGee­han, who did more than most in get­ting the Reds on the front foot.

Both 23-year-olds have been sent out on loan in the past and have re­turned with a de­ter­mi­na­tion to prove a point – as did Ma­madou Thiam with a blis­ter­ing dis­play off the bench af­ter be­ing dropped in favour of Ge­orge Mon­cur.

It was Mowatt’s sweetly curled shot into the far cor­ner from out of the area af­ter Brad Potts’s lay-back from a low cross that proved the win­ner in the 11th minute and McGee­han said: “It was def­i­nitely a pos­i­tive re­sponse af­ter two poor de­feats in a week.

“It was the type of per­for­mance we wanted with ev­ery­one stick­ing to­gether and to their tasks. It was not pretty but three points have got the ball rolling again. We want to get pro­moted and need to be win­ning games. We need to keep push­ing on.

“League One is tough in terms that vist­ing teams do not al­ways come to play and there are go­ing to be games that are go­ing to be phys­i­cal as was the case on Tues­day when we did not match it. If we do, the per­for­mance will fol­low.”

Of step­ping back into ac­tion in the 20th minute in mid­week and earn­ing a start­ing berth against the Pi­rates, he con­tin­ued: “I was gut­ted for Kenny, who has done re­ally well since he came in, but I have kept my­self ready and knock­ing on the door and that’s how the chance comes some­times.

“You have to take it and, hope­fully, I can play a run of games now. “

Of his part­ner­ship with Mowatt, in the fi­nal year of his con­tract but in ne­go­ti­a­tions to sign an­other, McGee­han said: “Al is a good player and he’s been sim­i­lar to my­self last sea­son when I also had to go out on loan to get some games. It did not quite hap­pen for him at Ox­ford like it didn’t hap­pen for me at Scun­thorpe in terms of reg­u­lar foot­ball but we know what the league is about now and we are both young and hun­gry play­ers who can get goals. Al is a won­der­ful player and he is so clever on the ball an­dit’s a plea­sure to play along­side him.

“When a new man­ager comes in it is a clean sheet for ev­ery­one. Al has played every game and it’s good to see that. You learn a lot from ex­pe­ri­ences and it is not al­ways go­ing to be rosy go­ing on loan. It’s not go­ing to be ideal but you learn a lot from it so you use that ex­pe­ri­ence to help you this sea­son.”

Hav­ing been given the lead by Mowatt, Barns­ley let the vis­i­tors come at them and could eas­ily have been pegged back by the break. For­mer Reds striker Ste­fan Payne was twice de­nied by Adam Davies in the 30th minute, fir­ing a shot from the right which the goal­keeper tipped over and then be­ing de­nied by a smart block af­ter Ethan Pin­nock missed his header when Daniel Lead­bit­ter chipped the ball back in af­ter the cor­ner had been cleared.

Sten­del ad­mit­ted: “We stood too deep and were too pas­sive – a con­se­quence of the last two games. The self-con­fi­dence was not so high and you noticed it. I hope that the per­for­mance gives the team new self-be­lief.”

Sten­del had them ral­lied for the start of the sec­ond half and Mon­cur saw a fierce drive thud off the chest of Bon­ham from Ki­ef­fer Moore’s nod down and Potts was also nar­rowly off tar­get from 12 yards – Mowatt pro­vid­ing both op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Rovers made a triple sub­sti­tu­tion be­fore Mon­cur gave way to Thiam, who was felled af­ter burst­ing down the left and his free-kick from 24 yards struck the bar. He then blazed wide as the ball fi­nally came back to him in the 79th minute.

The vis­i­tors threw ev­ery­thing for­ward and Barns­ley fans, fu­ri­ous at a range of de­ci­sions which went against them, had their nerves tested be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle.

PIC­TURE: DEAN ATKINS

ON TAR­GET: Barns­ley’s Alex Mowatt cel­e­brates scor­ing his 11th-minute goal, which proved the win­ner against strug­gling vis­i­tors Bris­tol Rovers at Oak­well and kept the Reds in the play-off places.

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