TWO-goal Barnsley hero Chris Dagnall dedicated their victory over Leeds United to the club’s long-suffering supporters.
The Reds moved off the bottom of the Championship following Dagnall’s quickfire second-half double which sealed their first home league win since September 1.
“That was a performance for the fans,” he admitted. “It was a long overdue league win at home.
“I think the last couple of weeks have given the fans a lot of hope. We played unbelievably well against Peterborough and were just unlucky. But the results over Burnley and Leeds have given the players a lot of hope.
“We are not miles away. A couple of wins will see us clear.”
Dagnall pointed to the heavens after tucking in a 63rd-minute penalty to put Barnsley in command. Referee Craig Pawson showed no hesitation in giving the spot-kick, with Sam Byram clumsily tripping Dagnall.
“I was very confident of scoring the penalty and it was nice to see it hit the back of the net,” said Dagnall.
Three minutes later, the 26-year-old rifled in a left-foot shot to dash Leeds’ hopes of staging a comeback. He wheeled away in celebration and embraced Reds caretaker manager David Flitcroft.
Before Saturday, Dagnall had gone 18 matches without a goal. His last strikes came on the opening day of the season in the Reds Capital One Cup triumph at his old club, Rochdale.
“They have been a long time coming,” he admitted. “It was great to get the two.
“It [the barren run] has not played on my mind because I have still been getting chances most weeks. Hopefully this will start a good run for me.
“I have been in and out all season. I don’t think I have played particularly bad but I haven’t got the goals and that’s my job. Now I want to push on.”
Despite Dagnall’s dry spell, Flitcroft insists he has never lost faith in the player’s ability.
“I worked with Chris at Rochdale where he got 24 and 22 goals in two seasons,” said Flitcroft. “I showed him a collage of those goals and he picked some crazy, mad music to it. He watched that before the game. It really focused him. This is a boy who keeps hearing he can’t score goals.
what it’s like to be a Barnsley fan. He’s hard working and he has that ethic they want.
“I am delighted for Chris. He took his second goal incredibly.
“Chris will have got a lot from that performance. I thought he put so much into the Peterborough game that his energy levels dipped against Burnley. But he was immense versus Leeds. His foil, Marlon Harewood, was outstanding in every aspect of his play.”
The onus is on Dagnall and Harewood to deliver up front, with leading marksman Craig Davies joining Bolton Wanderers last week.
Dagnall said: “With Craig leaving, someone has to step up and start scoring the goals. Hopefully Marlon and I will start forging a good partnership and the goals will start flowing.”
When asked about Harewood, Dagnall said: “Marlon is close to the perfect partner for me. He is tall, holds the ball up and is as strong as an ox. That is perfect for me and I will play my game off him. “He hit the post in the first half and was unlucky and he was close in the second half with one or two chances.”
The pair were a handful, running Leeds defence ragged at times.
“Harewood looked like a Real Madrid player today,” said Leeds United boss Neil Warnock.
“He held the ball up all the time and was a threat. He bullied us and we didn’t bully anyone.”
Barnsley hustled and harried their opponents into submission with Dagnall adding the coup de grace.
“We wanted to get in their faces and start at a high tempo,” said Dagnall. “I thought the first half was one of the quickest tempos I have ever played in. We kept it up for a good 60 to 70 minutes. Once we got the two goals, we controlled it well.”
Buoyed by the club’s second successive victory at Oakwell, Dagnall is urging the Reds board to quickly resolve the vacant managerial position.
“I think it has dragged on a little bit with managers getting linked and nobody getting appointed,” he acknowledged. “The quicker it gets sorted out the better.”
Speaking of Flitcroft’s prospects of securing the job before yesterday’s announcement, Dagnall said: “It depends on Flicker. It is whether he wants to be a manager or not.
“I have known the fellow a long time and I have got a lot of respect for him. It is up to him. Whoever has seen that performance [against Leeds] might fancy it a bit more.”
Flitcroft, who confirmed Jim O’Brien will be assessed by the club’s medical staff after the midfielder was stretchered off against Leeds having suffered a thigh problem, said beating Leeds was one of the proudest days of his life.
“I have found out a lot about myself in the last 10 days. It could change the way I look at myself for the rest of my career as when you lead a group and they are all playing for you, it’s different,” he said.
“Beating Leeds is a real proud moment. It is about something I have achieved. I have stepped up from number two and I am enjoying leading the players.
“I want the job because those players are playing for me. If I didn’t think they were, I would walk away tomorrow. If I get sacked, it is a different matter. It is out of my control. But I’ve been taught well and you don’t walk out on people.”