POYA Asbaghi has noticed new confidence levels in the Barnsley squad this week but says they will only achieve their aim of survival if they replicate their performance on Saturday throughout the remainder of the season.
The Reds are are last in the Championship with the lowest totals of points, wins and goals in the EFL.
They cut the gap to safety from eight points to five with a 1-0 win over high-flying Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, ending a 13-match winless run in the league and six straight losses.
Fourth-bottom Reading drew 0-0 at third-bottom Peterborough United on Wednesday which meant the gap increased to six but the Reds have a game in hand on the Royals.
Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “A win will always be good for the players’ confidence and the mood at the club.
“We were really solid in our defence and didn’t concede many chances.
“We need to do just as good a performance in our games coming up now.
“If we do that, then we all believe we can achieve what we want to achieve.”
Asbaghi earned a victory in his 12th league game as Barnsley boss, which is a club record for the longest wait.
He said: “It was a nice feeling after the final whistle but, like any other coach, you cannot feel too good after a victory just as you cannot feel too bad after a loss. Immediately after the game, I started thinking about the next game.”
The Reds had played seven games in 21 days, losing the first six before Saturday’s win, but have had a week without a match for the first time in a month. Asbaghi has been able to train with the majority of his squad – minus some injured players -– for the first time since December, after which they had a series of injuries and Covid-19 cases.
“A whole week feels like a pre-season, it comes at a really good time.
“We have tried to use this week for different things.
“We have been able to focus more on us, no matter the opponent, details of defending and transition and creating chances. These are things we want to be there no matter who the opponent is.
“We haven’t been able to do this since the early weeks when I arrived.
“The other thing is that players can recuperate after a really tight schedule when they played a lot of games, and there is another tight schedule coming up. We will not have many of these weeks so we need to be intense in the things we go through and talk fast and short about more than one thing.”
Barnsley are due to visit Coventry City tomorrow and Hull City on Tuesday, hoping to end a 19-match run without an away win in all competitions since April last year.
They are the only team in the EFL not to win an away game this season, taking four points from 15 matches on the road including one in their last 11.
They have lost six away games in a row in all competitions for the first time since the end of the 2017/18 relegation season, while the last time they lost seven successive away games was under Keith Hill in February and March 2012.
If they do not win in the next week, they will surpass the 16-match winless league away run from the 2007/08 season and move to within a game of the 18-match winless run in the 1975/76 season, which is the last time they had to wait this long for a first win of a season on their travels.
Asbaghi said: “Of course we want to get the first away win for our fans and for the players. We need this. But we want to win every game, home or away.”
Asbaghi praised the impact of new signings Domingos Quina and Amine Bassi who arrived on transfer deadline day last month. Quina got the winner on Saturday while Bassi, who has also impressed, is now an injury doubt.
Asbaghi said: “It’s pretty clear that they have come in with confidence on the ball, they are not afraid and they have confidence in their skills.
“They have been able to show in a short time that they are good players.
“One thing maybe that they are not getting as much credit for is their hard work in defence which is a must for us.
“Bassi ran the most metres of any player on Saturday which is maybe something you wouldn’t expect from a player like him.”
After this week’s games, Barnsley host promotion-chasing Middlesbrough a week tomorrow. A week later, they begin their March fixtures at fellow strugglers Derby County before three home games in a week against Stoke City, Fulham and Bristol City. They visit Sheffield United on March 19 before the last international break of the season then play eight more games in April and May.