Barnsley ‘got away with one’ in their 3-2 win at Port Vale as an ‘excellent’ first half was followed by a 'negative' second.

The Reds were 3-0 up at the break thanks to Adam Phillips’ opener and a brace by the in-form John McAtee.

But the hosts dominated the second half and scored twice.

Head coach Neill Collins said: “We were outstanding in the first half. The quality of our goals was excellent and we looked comfortable defensively. But everything that was good about the first half was negative about the second - particularly the last 20 minutes.

“Once Port Vale got their goal, we struggled to cope. We made changes and the subs struggled to get into the game.

“(Uche) Ikpeazu (Vale’s big striker) came on and is going to give you a different problem and we didn’t deal with that. The first goal comes off that and we have these challenges because certain players struggle with certain things.

“We could have made it a lot easier for ourselves but it’s difficult when the tide turns.

“It should have been a comfortable afternoon but it was a bit disappointing.

“Your mind plays tricks, you go 3-1 and start contradicting the right things to do by doing what feels safe instead of using our quality. We gave the ball away too quickly, we were offside too often or played poor passes.

“We need to learn from it. But the most important thing is we got the three points.”

Wing-back Corey O’Keeffe added: “We were excellent and clinical in the first half and limited them. If we had played like that in the second half it could have been six or seven again but it’s hard to do it for 90 minutes. If you’re 3-0 down you will throw everything at us. We’ve got away with one but it’s three points so job done.

“It got nervous. They brought on a couple of big players and loaded the box. We dealt with that for the most part but we need to defend better and not give up so many chances.”

Phillips opened the scoring with a header from a fine Herbie Kane pass. Collins said: “It was a great run and great goal. Adam was a leader in the second half. He was excellent. When we were struggling, he was trying to lead and organise which is good too see.”

McAtee made it 2-0 then added a second with a 35-yard stunner. Collins said: “When you’re full of confidence and you’ve scored your first goal, that ball falls and you hit it. We’ve seen he can score sublime goals.”

Collins took Luca Connell off at half-time then Jamie McCart midway through the second half with a groin injury which leaves him a doubt for Peterborough away on Friday.

“You’re 3-0 up and Luca Connell is on a yellow card. One of the only ways you see yourselves losing is gong down to ten men. He’s a number six in the middle of the pitch so it only takes one missed tackle. I felt it was the right thing to do.

“Jamie McCart has been outstanding and we missed his composure and leadership.”

The win was Barnsley’s seventh from 11 away games this season. Collins said: “The players take a lot of credit. I think these places are so tough to win at. Sometimes you accept a point so to get that many wins says a lot about the attitude and mentality.”