Barnsley caretaker Adam Murray has told his players to ‘stand up and man up’ after a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town on Saturday. 

The Reds, who have now not won in their last 13 league games, had drawn their first two under the caretaker but struggled in the John Smith’s Stadium after a bright start. 

Murray said: “I am getting a bit bored of hearing that the players are young and naive. This league will eat you up if you feel sorry for yourself. The players need to stand up and man up. They know that. It’s tough for them. A lot of them have come from levels that are not like the one they are in, not just in terms of football but mentally as well. It comes right for your jugular and, if you don’t respond right, you get eaten. 

“When you are in this position you can become a victim, feel sorry for yourself and let the energy drain from you, we need to focus on the bits we have done well over the last two weeks and, if we bring that to the table more often than not, we will get points. The fans will be as frustrated and as disappointed as we are. They were fantastic in backing the boys. I have no qualms that they will always support the boys.”

The club’s board are understood to have spoken to several candidates about the head coach’s role with more interviews set to take place this week. Murray said: “I speak to the board regularly and understand they are in a process. How long that is is up to them, our job is to prepare the team for the next day and the next game. We will continue to do that and, if we can find the energy and freshness we had at West Brom against Bristol City (on Friday), we will be OK.” 

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The Reds are now four points adrift of safety. Murray said: “The situation was never going to be defined today. It’s a blow losing a football match, especially after how good the players have been for the last two games. But it’s not going to end anybody’s world today. You can’t afford to lose focus and, after a loss, go to rock bottom. We stay level-headed in terms of our thinking, it doesn’t change the amount of games we have to win. We have one game left but we crack on to the next one.” 

Barnsley were on top for the first 20 minutes but conceded either side of the break before Jacob Brown pulled one back. Murray said: “We started the game fairly well but needed to take our opportunities. In the middle part of the game we looked like we had played two really big games which we emptied ourselves out in. Then at the end we looked stronger and it looked as though there was only one team who would score the next goal. We lacked a little bit of composure in the final third and our decision-making became a little bit erratic. This game probably came a little bit too quick.

“If you look through all the goals we have conceded, it has been a common theme. The important thing for players is that we can keep talking about learning and improving but individual players need to get better. If people aren’t taking the lessons on board then you end up conceding the goals we are conceding which are really poor.” 

Brown said: “It was a great feeling to get my first goal of the season but we didn’t get a draw or win so I am not happy. We weren’t good enough. The defending wasn’t good enough and we didn’t take our chances. It was a poor performance. Most of the goals we are conceding are not down to the Championship quality of the other team, it’s just poor defending. Even if it is Sunday League football, they are mistakes you shouldn’t be making. We have no one to blame but ourselves.” 

Cameron McGeehan fired over from six yards out at 1-0. Murray said: “I imagine Cam is gutted but he’s a big character. We had to score there and if we did, the game would be totally different. He’s not used to being in those positions after playing deeper. He just need to get his habits and rhythm back and to find that execution.” 

Goalkeeper Brad Collins was injured in the first half but Murray decided not to take him off. The coach said: “He went over on his ankle in the first half and he wasn’t 100 per cent in the second half. Unless he couldn’t walk, it was never a question of taking him off. We needed as many attacking players as we could on the pitch. Bambo (Diaby) and Kenny (Dougall) were limping as well but they are big players.”