NEILL Collins says there is a ‘lot more to come’ from his Barnsley team and knows there will be a ‘target on our back’ away from home as they close in on a club record.
The Reds are currently third in League One with 22 points from 12 games, six points off leaders Portsmouth and three clear in the top six.
They won 1-0 at Exeter City last week and now – with this week’s game with Bolton Wanderers being postponed due to the Trotters’ international call-ups – the Reds’ next game is at Leyton Orient on Saturday.
Barnsley have won their last five away matches, after drawing their first one at Bristol Rovers, one short of the club record they set in the Championship in 2021.
But they have suffered four defeats in their last five league games at home.
Collins told the Chronicle: “An away run like this puts a target on your back. So we have to deal with that.
“We will prepare for another away game in a difficult environment next.”
He added: “It’s understandable why we differentiate between home and away.
“It’s an easy separating factor.
“But at home we haven’t given ourselves the right platform, and we’ve also played two or three good sides.
“But, in the EFL, to win away from home is always tough so to do it five times in a row says a lot about the group.”
Collins was brought in less than a month before the campaign started with many of the team that reached last season’s play-off final leaving the club or being unavailable through injury or illness.
He said: “We knew there would be ups and downs at the start but I wanted to find a way to get points early on.
“Fans want to believe, players are dictated to by winning and losing.
“We aways knew the first ten games could be the toughest, but we can’t think we have cracked it or the next ten games will be the toughest.
“It’s been really good in many aspects.
“I had no expectations of where we would be in the league.
“I knew we would have to work a lot of things out.
“The players have done a fantastic job of getting some points on the board and putting us in a good position.
“The biggest thing is we are improving. We just need to keep improving.”
Collins believes his side will only get better as the campaign goes on.
“We are getting a bit more consistency in terms of selection and I would like to think that will improve the performances and the results will improve.
“There is a lot more to come. We have people like Adam Phillips who hasn’t quite got going but, when he does, he is as good as anyone in the league.
“Luca Connell was in the Team of the Year last year and hasn’t played yet.
“None of our players have had their peak. They can all get better.”
The Reds’ back three was highlighted as a weak area following all of last season’s starting centre-backs leaving during the summer and being replaced with far less experienced players.
But the current back three of Jordan Williams, Mael de Givegney and Jamie McCart impressed in recent games such as the win at Exeter.
Collins said: “A little bit of consistency in selection at the back has seen the defence improve.
“We knew there were issues and why. The defending from the team as a whole has improved.
“It’s our sixth clean sheet.
“We’ve ridden our luck in a few games but that (Exeter) was a clean sheet performance.
“We need to keep having good defensive performances.
“Jamie McCart has been fantastic – a real level head and a good player with a little bit of experience even though he’s only 26.
“Mael has been excellent even though we’re missing Kacper Lopata who has also been excellent.
“Jordan Williams was playing against a top winger (Demetri Michell) but didn’t give him a sniff for most of the game
“They will tell you the collective is really important but I am glad to see them playing well.”
Centre-backs Lopata and Robbie Cundy are out injured while Connell is recovering from illness.
None of them are expected to return for the Orient game.