NEILL Collins admits losing at home to other teams expected to compete for promotion this season is ‘a pattern we have to be wary of’ but believes Barnsley are in a ‘good position’ overall two months into the campaign.
The Reds are currently fifth in the early League One table, having taken 16 points from their first nine games of the season.
They won 2-1 at Northampton Town on Saturday then 3-1 at home to Manchester City under 21s in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
They have won six of their last seven games in all competitions and are due to host Blackpool in the league tomorrow.
Most of the teams Barnsley have beaten this season are generally expected to not be in contention for promotion this season while they have lost to most of those who are, with question marks over their much-changed defence.
Collins told the Chronicle: “We knew we were going to have ups and downs.
“If we were in this position and we had lost three other games, it would be a different problem. It might be that we had been poor away or poor against teams people think we should beat.
“It so happens that we have lost quite similar games at home which means there is a pattern we have to be wary of. But, as long as we’re winning games, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets – and we have done all three – we can build on that.
“It’s very early and the league table is very tight. We’re in a good position and a position that we can build from.”
The Reds have lost three of their five leagues games at Oakwell but are unbeaten away from home, taking ten of their 16 points from their four away games.
While they have let in the fewest goals away from home, no League One side has conceded more home goals this season than the Reds with nine.
They shipped three each time in defeats against Peterborough, Oxford and Portsmouth, but also recorded the opening day 7-0 win over Port Vale and last week’s 2-0 success against Burton Albion. After the Blackpool game, they are not due to play at home for three and a half weeks.
Collins said: “We could go into a lot of reasons. We have played good opposition and made basic errors. If you do that, home or away, you get punished.
“The Peterborough and Oxford games are slightly different because we were going through a couple of difficult situations on and off the field that impacted some of the performances.
“Portsmouth was a freak game in some ways and not one we want to replicate.
“It will be a good test for us on Saturday and hopefully we see signs of us improving and learning lessons.
“Winning away from home is very difficult and that’s a great positive to have.
“We know we can win at Oakwell as well and we want to do that on Saturday.”
He added: “We have won a couple at home. We want to be able to beat what people would maybe call the bigger team.”
The Reds are the top-scorers in League One with 20 goals, five more than any other side.
But they have the 13th best defensive record with 11 goals conceded.
After the game with Blackpool, Barnsley are due to travel about 800 miles to visit Cambridge United on Tuesday then Exeter City the following Friday.
“We always plan around winning the first one. That builds the momentum.
“Then off the back of that we think: ‘is there a way to do that which makes us stronger for the second and third game?’
“We have shown we have strength in depth. The players on Tuesday showed they are ready which gives us more options.
“We are keeping in mind some of those options, and how we might utilise them and what players are best for each game.”
One of the areas where Barnsley have fierce competition is at wing-back where Corey O’Keeffe and Owen Dodgson replaced Barry Cotter and Nicky Cadden to start the Northampton game.
“The wing-backs is an interesting one. We have great competition.
“We need to get to the point where you are playing the first 60 minutes or the last 30.
“How often you play the first 60 will be down to how well you are doing.
“Sometimes when you come on, it is when we’re having the most joy and the game is most open.
“It’s probably the most difficult decision for this weekend. I will make the decisions so we pick up as many points as possible this week.”
Barnsley’s scheduled home game with Bolton Wanderers on October 14 has been postponed due to international call-ups for the Trotters.