Gerhard Struber said fatigue was a main cause of Barnsley’s 2-0 loss at Reading as their three-game winning run ended. 

The Reds were playing their seventh game in February and Struber believes his young and inexperienced squad are tired due to that schedule. 

Sturber said: “It was a difficult game with one or two unlucky situations for us. We had top chances but we didn’t take them. Over the whole game, we didn’t have the energy to win this game. That was the key in the end. The last games took out a lot of energy from my boys and it is not easy to always play at our limit. 

“Other teams have more experience and the big challenge for us with young players is to play in the Championship with this schedule with the energy level we need."

Barnsley are now five points from safety with ten to play. Struber said: “It’s so close. The league is very difficult. We have to work, we give everything we can and we have a big chance to stay in the league.”

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Struber was disappointed with the opening goal when Jacob Brown looked set to clear on the line before the ball trickled in. He said: “We were not clear in the first duel then the ball comes down and we are unlucky that we could not clear it. It was a disappointing moment in the game.” 

Struber said his decision to change to a 3-4-1-2 formation was not a factor in the defeat, despite reverting to a 4-4-2 diamond at half-time. He said: “It was not about the formation today, it was more about the energy. In the first half, Reading had too much space and we always had to run. In the second half, we played without intensity or speed in our game.” 

Clarke Oduor was taken off at the interval. Struber said: “Clarke was the loser from the formation. He played a normal game and I am happy with him.”

Defender Michael Sollbauer said: “We are disappointed because of the result, the performance was not really bad but it wasn’t good enough to take points. We gave them a silly goal, we have to clear this ball. We made good chances to score the equaliser and we tried everything to score but we go home without points.  “I told the team directly after the game that there is no reason to keep the heads down. We won three of the last four games with three clean sheets. We can’t give up or keep our heads down because we can turn next Saturday into a good mood. I know we will take points in the next games.”