Three matches in eight days over the festive period are a 'brilliant opportunity' for Barnsley says under-pressure head coach Lee Johnson.

Barnsley – who will spend Christmas in the relegation zone – have lost the joint most games of all the League One teams, 13 from 22, while only bottom club Colchester have conceded more goals. The Reds travel to Bury, managed by their former boss David Flitcroft, for a Boxing Day contest on Saturday then they host a resurgent Blackpool side on Monday before starting 2016 at home to Millwall on January 2.

Johnson told the Chronicle: "The next three games are a brilliant opportunity for us. We will be looking to pick up a couple of wins in the league and build up some momentum going in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy games against Fleetwood. We have picked up a couple of wins in the last few weeks and we hope to keep doing that while moving up the table. We have had a board meeting this week and we are all committed to turning this season around."

The Reds fans seemed to turn against the head coach after Wigan's second goal in their 2-0 win on Saturday and Johnson is glad that Barnsley's next game is not at Oakwell but at Bury's Gigg Lane. He said: "It's always disappointing to lose at home but it might help us that our next game is away.  We keep giving ourselves a mountain to climb early in home games and that leads to everyone getting frustrated.
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"The crowd are wanting the players to do well and, when the lads gave them something to shout about in the first 20 minutes on Saturday, they were excellent.  But a couple of mistakes or bad passes inevitably happens at all levels and the players have got to be strong to not to let their mindset or confidence levels drop. I, for one, just want to see people being bold and brave."

Johnson was disappointed to lose against promotion candidates Wigan on Saturday, a game in which his side did not register a shot on target. He said: "Wigan are a very big club for this division in terms of budget and resources and still having money coming in from the parachute payments (following relegation from the Premier League).

"But I am not using that as an excuse. We are a big club for the division as well and they beat us fair and square on the day. It was disappointing and not acceptable but sometimes you have to appreciate that the opposition are trying to win as well and sometimes they get the better of you like we got the better of them two weeks ago (in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy).

"I've watched the DVD of the game back and there wasn't a lot in it.  We didn't have any shots on target per se but we got in good positions then had three air shots. Marley Watkins had one and Sam Winnall had two. Then we scored a goal which was given offside but was three yards on.

"We were looking like we might get an equaliser right at the end but then we conceded a very cheap goal and, if you do that, you are asking for trouble."