Michael Duff hailed a ‘complete away performance’ in Barnsley’s 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday and said James Norwood’s goal off the bench was the perfect apology for his midweek red card.
Devante Cole opened the scoring on 33 minutes then Norwood came on to head home immediately in the second half, capping a very good display from the visitors.
Duff told the Chronicle: “Hopefully the fans enjoyed that one. It was tough for them last season then this season has been up and down.
“I told the players you need to enjoy these days because they don’t come around very often. Hopefully the supporters saw a shift that was put in and the players appreciated their support. I am delighted for everyone associated with the football club.”
Duff said: “We’ve kept a clean sheet, the two centre forwards have scored – one from a set play. Without getting too carried away, it was a complete away performance.
“We haven’t arrived. We’ve had false dawns already this season. We know where we are in the process. The good thing is we know what our group is until January and we have shown we can be competitive.
“A lot of people have written this group off for lots of different reasons but I think they have proved that, without being world-beaters, we can compete with the best. I would be very surprised if Wednesday don’t finish in the top two. It’s only one game but it’s pleasing.”
Norwood had been sent off in the EFL Trophy in midweek. Duff said: “We’ve had words. But talk is cheap, that’s the best apology he can make to his team-mates. He had a positive impact on the game and he’s annoyed he didn’t score two.
“We know he is not quite there fitness-wise because he came in late. He won’t have a day off tomorrow like most of the lads. It was an unbelievable header. He would be the first to admit he hasn’t been at it on the pitch but this will give him a shot in the arm.”
Midfielder Luca Connell added: “From one to 11 we stood together and put in a great performance. Then normally the result follows. It gives a boost to everyone. We’re thankful for the support from the fans and glad we could put the performance in for them.”
Duff was asked for Barnsley’s perspective on Callum Styles signing a new contract before being loaned to Millwall. He said: ”You would have to ask the club. My head has been spinning for the last week. I would imagine it is to add value to the player. He made it clear he didn’t want to be here. Credit to him he played every minute we asked. I wish him all the best.”
Barnsley tried to full to bring in a striker on transfer deadline day. Duff said: “We were close, there were a couple of deals that fell down right at the end. I won’t lie to the players, we wanted a couple in and it didn’t happen for whatever reason. That’s out of my control, I can only focus on what I can control - working with the players and trying to improve them.
“It’s easy to think the grass is greener and ‘he’s better, he’s better.’
“There are centre forwards at the club, they scored two goals today. We will focus on the positives and work with the players we have.”
Josh Benson came off after 32 minutes, after doing the same a week earlier with a hamstring problem. Duff said: “Josh felt his hamstring. He said it didn’t go but if he sprinted, it might.
“He’s done the right thing. Nothing showed on the scan so there is something in there but he’s not pulled it.”