Michael Duff says Barnsley ‘earned their luck’ in a 2-2 draw at Ipswich Town in which they withstood massive pressure late on having come from behind twice.
Ex-Reds Conor Chaplin, with a stunning free-kick, and Sam Morsy put the high-flying hosts ahead but Jack Aitchison and Callum Styles levelled.
The Reds held on for their first away point of the season, with the hosts hitting the post and missing other chances late on.
Duff told the Chronicle: “I thought it was a good game. It’s very rare you enjoy it but I enjoyed it all apart from the last ten minutes. We have had bad luck recently then with two injuries in the first half and the first goal that goes in, you’re thinking ‘here we go’. We played Wednesday then Saturday at top of the league.
“Last week (at home to Wycombe) we went 1-0 down and absolutely buckled. We went behind twice today then got back in it. We showed resilience.
“At 1-1 we had big chances to take the lead. Ipswich scored against the run of play and didn’t have to do much to do a lot to score the second goal for all their good football. But we got back in it then had to dig in and we were hanging on.
“We have bad luck with referees, own goals, injuries, that is the fifth goal we’ve conceded outside the box this season.
“The one that hits the post right at the end, we might have earned that little bit of luck.
“You’re not going to come to top of the league and not to have to dig in.
“I don’t know where the referee has got eight minutes from, even their fans were surprised. Then he played eight and half minutes and let them take another corner.”
Aitchison got his first goal for the club and Styles got the second leveller, amid speculation of a move away before Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Duff: “It could have been a world record for two headers scored from a total height of four foot.
“I said it to the players before the game, hard work pays you back. Jack has worked incredibly hard and I am delighted for him.
“Stylesy missed a penalty the other day. He could have done better for both the goals but not just him. We’re not here to chastise people. He has a lot going on in his life, he put a shift in today and that’s all we can ask.
“Stylesy is on the bus back. I don’t think we’ve had a bid for him or (Michal) Helik but I haven’t really focused on it today."
Aitchison joked: “A couple of people have said the smallest players on the pitch have scored. I don’t know what they’re talking about. I am targetman.”
He added: “I am pleased for Stylesy as well. He had a chance before but kept his head.
“Everybody is buzzing in the changing room because we know how hard we worked. In the last ten minutes, it was backs against the wall and everyone did brilliant and Brad (Collins) at the end made a great save. I was on the bench and so happy he saved it. They had one that hit the post as well. Maybe the luck was on our side because of how hard we worked. It’s a hard place to come and we’re really pleased.
“We were not playing too bad but Chaplin scored a great free-kick. We worked even harder after that and deserved a goal. We could have created more chances but it’s hard when you come to a place like this.”
Jordan Helliwell and Josh Benson limped off with injury in the first half, with Clarke Oduor and Matty Wolfe coming on.
“Jordan, we think, might be a bit longer on an early prognosis. But he felt something pop which is never a great sign.
“He’s played at West Brom, Leeds and Ipswich away in front of big crowds. I said to him ‘it’s not always like this mate’.
“We don’t think Josh is too bad but it didn’t feel right. We’re not in a position to take risks with players and we have other players in the squad who can do a job. I thought Wolfie did OK.”
Duff put Jordan Williams in the back three instead of right wing-back.
“It was for legs. Ipswich want to open you up and draw centre halves in, get forwards in behind.
“We wanted to be aggressive, we didn’t want to just sit in. We pinched the ball in really good areas. If you are going to do that high up the pitch, you need to have legs at the back.”
Duff is hoping for signings before Thursday. He said: “We need people in, I’ve said it for a long time. We need to support the group.”