BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill had plenty to smile about as his battling side earned themselves a deserved point away to Millwall.
But the Reds boss isn’t getting carried away despite another solid performance, the club’s second decent showing following a fine 2-1 win over Reading seven days earlier.
“We defended well as a team, but we’ve got to try and unlock doors,” reflected Hill.
“We had opportunities on the counter-attack where we could have been better - and should have been better.
“But we had to come here and keep a clean sheet. That was very pleasing.
“At the moment, though, I’m sick of hearing about last season and previous seasons. We’re on this season and we’ve got ourselves a creditable 0-0.
“In the first half we were guilty of giving them their opportunities.
“Bbut I thought we started the second half superbly and later on we exposed them on the counter-attack.
“But we’ve got to take our chances.
“We’ve got to do a lot more running-wise without the ball because we’ve got good passers, but they’ve got to believe in themselves because at times they’re nervy and we shouldn’t be.”
Hill made three changes to his side that beat the Royals at the Majedski Stadium, with striker Craig Davies ruled out with a groin injury.
Defender Jay McEveley and forward Danny Haynes were both dropped to the substitutes’ bench, with new loan signing Danny Drinkwater handed his debut.
The Manchester United youngster, aged 21, started in the middle of the park with former United teammate Jacob Butterfield, while James McNulty slotted in at left-back in place of McEveley and Andy Gray started as a lone frontman in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
The tactics worked for Hill and the hosts were frustrated for long periods of the match. If the Reds had been more clinical, they could have easily come away from their travels with a second successive victory.
It was also going to be tough for Hill’s men to deal with the strong aeriel presence of Darius Henderson, the former Sheffield United striker, but centre-backs Rob Edwards and Stephen Foster looked assured at the back.
Henderson managed a header on target in the 12th minute, but he only had one other opportunity to score after that.
The ex-Blade did whip a lovely ball across the face of goal on the quarter-hour mark, but fellow forward Josh McQuoid somehow poked wide at the far post with the goal at his mercy.
Reds keeper Luke Steele produced a fine save to thwart Jimmy Abdou six minutes before the break after the midfielder lost his marker and let rip with a fierce drive.
Chances were few and far between for the visitors, but David Perkins tried his luck as half-time approached, only to see his long-range effort fly well wide.
But the second half saw renewed energy from the Reds going forward.
Drinkwater was unlucky to have his powerful right-foot shot charged down by Lions skipper Paul Robinson six minutes after the restart.
Winger James Henry lashed wide a couple of minutes later after a good breakaway from the hosts.
And then man of the match Steele produced a brilliant save to deny Henderson from point-blank range.
The Reds failed to clear a left-wing corner and Henderson pounced, only for Steele to spread himself superbly and avert the danger.
McQuoid had a left-foot shot deflected narrowly over after an important block from Perkins and then Robinson should have scored from Hamer Bouazza’s dangerous curling free-kick, but the skipper failed to get any contact with only Steele to beat.
Substitute Jim O’Brien could have won it for Hill’s charges with five minutes remaining.
But, having turned three defenders, he curled his right-foot shot agonisingly wide of the far post.
We got ourselves a creditable 0-0, there won’t be many teams who get a clean sheet here [at the New Den].
We defended well as a team, but we’ve got to show a little bit more when we’re in possession and going forward.
They score goals, but we withstood that pressure. We were guilty of giving them their opportunities and then in the second half we exposed them on the counter-attack and could have been more clinical.
If we had been that little bit more clinical then we could be talking about winning 1-0.