Gerhard Struber believes last night’s ‘very disappointing’ 2-1 loss at Derby County will be a ‘one-off’ in Barnsley’s fight against relegation. 

The Reds are second-bottom, three points from safety, after their five-match unbeaten run ended with defeat to the Rams who handed a debut to former England captain Wayne Rooney. 

Struber told the Chronicle: “This is one game on its own and we will be better in the next game. With young players it is normal that the performances go a little down and up. The most important thing is that we go step by step forward.  “We have gone two steps behind but we have to go three or four steps forward. Now it is a difficult situation, we need points and victories.  “It is very close in the table and we have big chances to achieve our aim which is to stay in the league.” 

Struber was not happy with the performance early in the game.  He said: “I am very disappointed. We had no control on the ball and we had a lot of problems, in the first half and especially in the first 30 minutes. The reality is we didn’t do enough for a point and that is painful. Not every player was on 100 per cent and, when we play against a big opponent with Rooney, we need every player on the limit.  

"The second half was better, we had more control but the energy from the opponent was massive and this, in the end, was the problem. All the players from Derby wanted to show Rooney how they can play and this energy is a big point for Derby.”

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Struber refused to blame the hectic Christmas schedule, saying: “The opponent also played a lot of games, but it is not easy. We do not have a big squad to change players. We do not always have the right energy.”

Cauley Woodrow, Barnsley’s nine-goal top-scorer, was left out of the squad with a hamstring injury. Struber said: “Cauley took a hit in our last training yesterday (Wednesday).  “He will not be ready for two or three weeks and that is not so easy for us.” 

Struber brought off Mike Bahre after 26 minutes for Elliot Simoes, who scored Barnsley’s goal. He said: “We had a problem with forward runs and needed more action in-between the opponent’s lines. I saw Elliot in training, I trust him, he is a very very good player and a big talent. It was the right substitute because he gave a very very good performance. The opponent had more problems when Elliot came on.”

Simoes, 20, said: “It felt good coming off the bench. I’m really disappointed of course with the result, the end result was not what we expected, but obviously it was nice get my first goal. I wasn’t expecting to come on that early, but once I got the call-up I was ready. In the first minutes I try to act like I’m comfortable, but you always get a bit nervous coming on. Once I started to get a few touches of the ball I started to feel comfortable.

“The goal was the best feeling ever.Especially for a player like me who was playing in the seventh division last year, and now I’m scoring in the Championship. Of course it’s a big thing. It’s a big step up for me but this is where I want to play, if not higher, so I want to make sure I’m sharp every single game.”

Simoes thought Barnsley should have had a penalty at 2-1 late on for a handball by Curtis Davies from his shot.  He said: “I had a very good first touch and hit the ball quite well, so I thought it would be a goal at first. I thought it hit his hand, I tried to call for a penalty but it wasn’t. I thought it would be.”

Barnsley now visit League Two Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup on Sunday, their third successive away match, before returning to league action on January 11 at home to Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.  Struber said: “The good thing about England is that always in two or three days you have the chance to play another game and get your confidence back. We drive home, we bring our heads to the sky and we work hard for the next game. We don’t cry, we are happy and we look forward to the next game in the FA Cup then a home game with Huddersfield.”

The Reds have now not won in 12 midweek matches since a 4-0 success at Rochdale in August 2018, while only one of their last 17 trips to Derby has brought a win.  The defeat was their first loss in the opening game of a year since a defeat at Peterborough United in 2013.