Barnsley: Caretaker boss Heckingbottom demands Reds improvement

Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom
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Caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom has laid down a challenge for his Barnsley stars to become big game players.

As the regular season comes to a thrilling climax, the Reds are a point inside the play-off places with two games to go.

And after Saturday’s goalless draw with rivals Sheffield United, Heckingbottom has urged his players to push themselves and find that extra bit of quality required to give themselves a shot at a return to the Championship.

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“We’ve laid down a little challenge now, that in games like that we need to be better with the ball,” said Heckingbottom.

“Everyone is giving everything and leaving everything they’ve got on the pitch so we can’t ask for anymore than that.

“The fans turn out and appreciate a Barnsley team giving that and that’s terrific. They’re getting rewards for that commitment and we’re a difficult team to beat even when can’t be our fluent best with the ball.

“If we’d been five or 10 per cent better with the ball, we’d have won the game, and if we want to get where we want to be - play-off finals and the like - we’re going to be playing in huge games like that.

“We have to get used to handling the ball under pressure in big atmospheres with no fear, and that’s our next challenge as a team.

“We’re doing lots of things right and we just want to strive and keep getting better, and that’s one area where if we want to be winning big games we think we can get better.

“It’s the next step in us being a better side. We’re never going to rest on our laurels and be happy with what we’ve got.”

Heckingbottom’s side have shouldered the pressure that has been piling on them throughout their remarkable run of form.

And the 38-year-old is desperate to make sure his hometown club are right in the mix come the end of the campaign, starting at home to Colchester on Saturday.

“We said all along let’s take it to the last game,” added Heckingbottom. “We can’t count our chickens.

“We know they’re dangerous in possession and they’re going to pose different challenges and for different reasons, so it’s a really big game for us, one we’re hoping to win then we can go into the last game.”