Aston Villa 3, Barnsley 1: Heckingbottom not happy as Reds suffer nightmare start at Villa Park
Dejected boss Paul Heckingbottom wasn't impressed with his side's nightmare start at Aston Villa as Barnsley's four-match unbeaten run came to an abrupt halt.
All the goals in a 3-1 loss at Villa Park were scored inside a frantic opening 20 minutes, with the Reds swiftly left to chase what proved to be a lost cause.
Heckingbottom said: “If you look back at the history books, you’ll not seem many teams 2-0 down at Aston Villa after seven minutes coming back to win.
“All three of their goals were scandalous on our part.
“If you’re going to do that, and miss chances at the other end, you’re never going to win.
“We paid Villa far too much respect at the start of the game.
“We were not even on the back foot. We just submitted a little bit and then let them dictate proceedings.
“That’s just not us, and that’s not a team I want to be associated with. We want to be fearless and much more aggressive.”
The Reds found themselves two down after just seven minutes, with former Rochdale striker Scott Hogan on target both times.
Dimitri Cavare headed home to halve the deficit after 11 minutes, only for former Reds favourite Conor Hourihane to lash home and make it 3-1 soon after.
Hogan missed out on a hat-trick when he struck the post after the break, while the Reds’ best chances of further consolation goals were fluffed by Tom Bradshaw and Kieffer Moore, who was making his first start for his new club.
Villa won their fourth consecutive match, and are now just three points shy of the automatic promotion places.
Boss Steve Bruce said: “We’re coming towards the end of January and we’re in with a shout.
“We’ll be there or thereabouts.”
The Reds are now just two points clear of the Championship drop zone ahead of Saturday’s tough home test against bang-in-form Fulham.
Boss demands ‘no fear’
Heckingbottom needs his Barnsley players to stand up and be counted as the tough Championship fixtures keep on coming.
After the chastening defeat at Aston Villa, the Reds host rampant Fulham this Saturday, then head to QPR before the big Owls derby at Oakwell follows on February 10.
“It doesn’t matter who you play, whether it’s Wolves at home or Aston Villa away, you’ve got to have that fearless attitude,” said the Reds boss.
“That has to be a collective approach all the time.
“We did concede three shocking goals at Villa, but the lads could have got their mates out of trouble in the second half.
“We have to help each other out.”
Familiar face haunts reds
For the second time this season Conor Hourihane looked a class act in victories against his old pals.
Aston Villa’s latest midfield hero was in terrific form against his old club Barnsley on Saturday, scoring a terrific goal and generally pulling some considerable strings as the hosts roared to a well-deserved victory and on towards potential automatic promotion.
When Hourihane - now 26 - was at Oakwell he looked like a player destined for Premier League stardom, and opinions across the board won’t have changed on that score.
He has been a huge miss since joining the Villa Park revolution last January, and surely his top-flight dream will be realised sooner rather than later.
Unfashionable clubs like Barnsley just can’t hang on to class acts like Hourihane when so-called ‘big boys’ come calling, and it’s likely that that situation is not likely to change anytime soon.