BARNSLEY’S players have shown an ‘excellent response’ from their loss to Exeter City on Saturday going into ‘one hell of a fixture’ at Bolton Wanderers tomorrow.
The Reds are sixth in League One, one place ahead of Bolton on goal difference.
Michael Duff’s side were unbeaten in six, winning their last four, before a 2-0 loss to Exeter City on Saturday after which the head coach blasted his side’s attitude and suggested complacency.
Assistant Martin Paterson told the Chronicle: “If you look over the course of the last ten or 11 games, it’s important we don’t just focus on the losses because one thing the head coach has done really well is be consistent with our messaging.
“Although as a staff we were disappointed with the performance and result, we got over it by Monday morning and realised how well the players have done this season.
“We’re in such a tough league so it’s really hard not to have a couple of off-days. The players are human and have off-days for a variety of reasons.
“But we want to make it so that, if they do have an off-day, it’s because the quality has let them down, not because they didn’t do the non-negotiables like running and effort. I think we will get to that stage down the line.
“We need a response now.
“We didn’t do anything weird and wonderful after the game.
“The gaffer gave his opinion, we told the players what they needed to improve then we worked on it in training.
“It’s been an excellent response in training. When we have suffered little set-backs this season, we’ve always responded well. We have to make sure that’s the case on Saturday.”
Barnsley have won their last three away league games without conceding, for the first time in more than six years – and also won at Doncaster Rovers in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
Bolton have won their last four games at home, keeping a clean sheet in the last two. Ian Evatt’s men are the first side Barnsley will visit this season who have been beaten at home in League One this campaign. But, other than a 2-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in August, they have won all five league matches at home and have the second best record in the division on their own soil behind leaders Plymouth Argyle.
Bolton have the best defensive record in League One while only League Two Leyton Orient have let in fewer than their eight in English professional football. They had won four league matches in a row before losing 1-0 at Cheltenham Town on Tuesday of last week.
They then also lost 1-0 at lowly Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.
Duff told the Chronicle: “Bolton have just lost back-to-back games to Cheltenham and Forest Green when they probably thought they would get six points. Football isn’t ABC.”
Paterson added: “Going away to Bolton is a hell of a fixture. They will be champing at the bit to win that game.
“They will be aggressive. They’ve lost the last two games and they are a massive club at the level. It wasn’t long ago that they were in the Premier League.That makes it really difficult for us coming off the Exeter result. The pressure will probably be on them to go and get the win after the last two results.
“We’re playing a team who will be up there at the end of the season.”
Barnsley have generally competed well in away games at fellow top ten sides this season. Paterson said: “We have done well away from home against some of the bigger teams.
“But the most important thing is finding consistency with your performances regardless of who the opposition is.
“I look at the fixture list and every week is a tough game.”
Bolton have several ex-Reds.
Right-back Gethin Jones – who played 17 games for Barnsley on loan from Everton in early 2017 – has been a regular while left-back Declan John, who had a nine-game loan in 2015 from Cardiff, returned from injury on Saturday.
Lloyd Isgrove, one of Barnsley’s 2016 promotion heroes, has only seen action in one EFL Trophy game as a substitute so far this season. He has struggled with hamstring problems for a year.
The last time Barnsley beat Bolton was a 1-0 victory in the FA Cup in 1998 when both sides were in the Premiership, courtesy of a Darren Barnard free-kick.
Since then, the Reds have drawn six and lost seven of their 13 meetings with the Trotters. They have not won any of their nine visits to the University of Bolton Stadium, initially called the Reebok Stadium – losing the last three.
Barnsley went there early last season and lost on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the EFL Cup.
The last time they won at Bolton was a 3-2 success at Burnden Park in 1994 when Charlie Bishop and Andy Payton, twice, scored in Viv Anderson’s final match as manager.
A week after this match, Barnsley again travel to the North West to take on lowly Morecambe before completing October with home games against Lincoln City on a Tuesday night and then Forest Green Rovers.