Barnsley’s boss Paul Heckingbottom had Ethan Pinnock to thank for salvaging a late point in a gritty battle against Reading at Oakwell.
Defender Pinnock, thrust forward as makeshift striker late on as the Reds chased an equaliser after Yann Kermogant had scored, did the business from close range in stoppage time.
The stuttering Reds have now gleaned four points and scored four goals from their last 10 Championship fixtures ahead of today’s trip to Sunderland, so much improvement is still required.
However, on Saturday Heckingbottom was pleased his late tactical switch paid off.
The Reds boss said: “It was frustrating to go behind to a sucker punch after being on top. That makes the game difficult, but I’ve got to praise the spirit of the lads. It was great.
“It was a wicked delivery in for their goal, but we’ve got to deal with that better.
“We then had to change the shape, push Ethan up and go three at the back, and thankfully that paid off in the end.”
After Adam Davies had been forced into an early save from Chris Gunter, the Reds gained a foothold later in the opening period.
Mamadou Thiam was looking sharp and was twice denied by Royals’ ‘keeper Vito Mannone, while Harvey Barnes headed narrowly wide.
Thiam was again thwarted by Mannone after the restart, before Reading struck the opener in the 68th minute when Kermogant converted Tyler Blackett’s cross.
Tom Bradshaw and sub Lloyd Isgrove almost levelled for the Reds late on, before Pinnock rescued a point in the 91st minute when he headed home Isgrove’s cross.
Heckingbottom is demanding more from his forward players as the struggle for goals continues.
It was left to makeshift front-man Pinnock to save the day and Heckingbottom appears to be wanting more from his strikers.
“It’s difficult, but I’ll know when I watch it back that there’s a lot of good stuff that went off in that game,” said Heckingbottom.
“We need to be able to score and be really aggressive in the box. Between the boxes it’s fine.”
Hopefully Pinnock’s strike will lift those around him as they gear up for today’s tough-looking trip to revitalised Sunderland.
Saturday’s second-half performance proved again that there is still plenty of fire in the players’ bellies. A point was the least Barnsley deserved.
BARNSLEY: Davies, Yiadom (McCarthy 69), , Pinnock, Lindsay, Fryers, Hammill, Williams , Gardner, Barnes (Isgrove 70), Thiam (Ugbo 70), Bradshaw. Subs not used: Townsend, Mallan, Potts, Bird.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, McShane, Moore, Blackett,van den Berg (Evans 62), Swift (Aluko 59), Edwards, McCleary, Barrow, Kermogant. Subs not used: Jaakkola, Ilori, Clement, Omar Richards.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) 8.