NEILL Collins believes repeating Barnsley’s successful first third of the season across the whole campaign will give them a good chance of promotion but says his team can still get better.
The Reds are third in League One, with 26 points from 14 games, two behind the two automatic promotion places, six off top and three clear in the top six.
This week, they drew 1-1 at Leyton Orient then won 3-0 at home to Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday.
They are now due to host third-bottom Fleetwood Town tomorrow.
So far in October, the Reds’ four games have brought three wins and a draw – scoring six goals and conceding one penalty. Head coach Collins told the Chronicle: “I don’t think about the season in months but the fact that it has been a good one so far is good.
“I know that tomorrow will be a third of the season.
“If we can have another two thirds like the first we will be in a good position.
“But I have learned that, in the football league, you take each game as it comes.
“We will just try to win the next one.”
Collins added: “Since I have been back in England I have found that you are two games away from being called a genius and two away from being a plonker.”
Barnsley are the top-scorers in League One, by four, with 29 goals from their 14 games so far.
They also have the fourth best defensive record now with only 13 goals conceded.
After some poor defensive performances earlier in the season, with a much-changed back line, the current back three of Jordan Williams, Mael de Givegney and Jamie McCart have impressed in recent weeks.
Since those three were put together, the Reds have not conceded in open play in five matches.
The only goals they have let in in that time have been penalties – one due to a rash Corey O’Keeffe tackle against Blackpool and another thanks to a controversial handball decision against McCart in London at the weekend.
“I am very pleased. The most important thing is we have not given up any opportunities in those games – maybe the Cambridge one was the most.
“It’s down to consistency in team selection and hard work on the training ground. But we’re going to need to build on that and get even better.
“I am seeing more consistent passages of play and more consistent performances than at the start of the season.
“It’s no surprise when you get consistent line-ups. We still want to make more chances, and restrict opposition chances even more.”
Barnsley’s current points total is five better than at this stage last season under Michael Duff whose side would, after taking 21 points from 15 games, be one of the form teams in England for the rest of the campaign and finish fourth on 86 points before losing the play-off final.
Collins said: “I am very happy with where we’re at. We’re winning, starting to see good performances, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets.
“We will have bumps and maybe go down some places but we will learn from them and get better. As long as the players show the same attitude I am sure we will continue to improve.”
Striker Devante Cole moved onto ten goals for the season with a goal against Shrewsbury.
He is the top-scorer in League One but, with his contract expiring next summer, Barnsley could receive offers for him in the January transfer window.
Collins said: “It’s great to have a player of Devante’s quality in the squad, and also other good strikers.
“It’s no coincidence that, in the past few years, the teams I have coached have had guys who scored a lot of goals.
“We work hard in training on creating chances for them.
“I hope he’s here and helps us achieve what we want to do but, if that’s to change for any reason, I believe we can do it with other players.
“It’s a collective.”