WHEN Danny Haynes struck his third goal in four appearances for Barnsley against lowly Preston, there was no one more animated inside Oakwell than Mark Robins.
The Reds boss sprinted out of his technical area, leapt high up into the sky and punched the air in celebration as his team recorded a 2-0 victory over basement battlers Preston North End.
There were a plethora of positives for Robins to reflect on at the final whistle; a second clean sheet in three outings, a sparkling debut from Chelsea hot prospect Jacob Mellis and a return to form for Garry O’Connor in attack.
Indeed, the back four stood firm when Preston pushed hard for an equaliser in the latter stages whilst Mellis starred at the heart of Barnsley’s midfield. His vision and range of passing kept the hosts ticking over throughout before he faded late on.
Robins had demanded more from Scotland international O’Connor, signed from Birmingham City, and the forward responded by leading the line intelligently. Ably supported by Haynes and new boy Frank Nouble, O’Connor played the loan striker role cleverly. His efforts were rewarded when his left foot shot deflected in off Leon Cort and over the despairing Andy Lonergan.
The victory lifted the club into 12th place and leaves Robins’ troops six points adrift of a top six spot.
Robins said the hosts were “good value” for the win and believes his players passed the ball “really well in the first half on a difficult surface”.
“I thought everybody did well and I was delighted Danny (Haynes) and Garry (O’Connor) got on the scoresheet,” he said. “Garry looked lively having struggled on Friday. I thought we were very, very good.”
Although pleased with their contributions, Robins conceded new arrivals Mellis and Nouble tired towards the end. Both were given debuts having joined on loan until the end of the season.
Robins admitted: “They brought a little bit of extra dimension to our play. When you look at the bench, I have got more scope to change things and know that it is going to work.
“It certainly kicks one or two up the backside. People now know that if they aren’t performing that there are one or two in who can pick up the mantle.”
Robins selected Jason Shackell and Bobby Hassell in the middle of his defence, with Steve Foster still suffering from a shin problem he sustained at Doncaster Rovers nine days ago. The Reds manager said “it remains to be seen” whether the uncompromising centre-back will be fit for the trip to Leicester City on Saturday.