Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom saluted a well-deserved victory for his team against Derby, one which will certainly see everyone at the club buoyed ahead of Wednesday’s next major Championship test at home against QPR.
The Reds were great value for their 2-0 win, their first of the eagerly-anticipated new campaign at the higher level.
After watching an unfortunate Scott Carson own-goal and Alfie Mawson’s towering strike see off the Rams, Heckingbottom said: “We started both halves really well and got the goals at key times.
“It was a well-deserved win, but more importantly all the lads will take a lot of belief and confidence from it.
“We want Oakwell to be a difficult place to come to, but we might play like that in some game and get beat, but either way we’ll have to bring that level of performance all the time.
The fans will respond to that, the players will respond to the fans, and hopefully with the quality we’ve got we can cause teams problems.
“When we get the organisation and the game-plan right, not only will you nullify the opposition, we’re capable of creating chances and maybe getting a goal out of nothing.”
Despite the humbling midweek home defeat by Northampton in the EFL Cup, Heckingbottom made just the one change to his line-up - drafting Ryan Kent back in place of George Moncur - and an all-round battling performance worked a treat as the Reds bounced back in some style from the opening-day reverse at Ipswich.
Mawson ignores speculation
Barnsley centre-back Alfie Mawson showed that any speculation about a possible future away from Oakwell was pushed to the back of his mind at the weekend.
Former Reds boss Lee Johnson continues to be linked with the impressive defender, with reports indicating that a £1m Bristol City bid has been rejected.
As the closing of the transfer window approaches, some players could be forgiven for taking their eye off the ball, so to speak.
However, that is far from the case with Mawson, as the Reds’ current boss Paul Heckingbottom revealed.
After watching Mawson turn in a sterling performance and score a crucial goal in the Derby victory, Heckingbottom said: “Alfie isn’t let anything bother him, he’s just letting his football do the talking.
“He certainly won’t let anyone down. He won’t want to let his team-mates down, us down, and he won’t let any speculation affect him.
“That’s what he has to do - focus on his football - and he will do.”
Reds at home in championship
More than 15,000 were packed into Oakwell on Saturday, with the vast majority inside the stadium enjoying the eventual outcome.
Derby’s team was packed with players of Premier League experience or potential, but they were dispatched by a hungry and confident Reds team who proved that they could well be a force in the second tier this term - particularly at ‘fortress Oakwell’.
Many fans may have entered the stadium at the weekend fearing for their team after they had shipped four at Ipswich on the opening day and were then humbled by Northampton in midweek. However, the Reds’ quality shone through against the shell-shocked Rams.
Barnsley paraded many of the qualities evident during their epic charge towards promotion in the second half of last season.
There was great goalkeeping from Adam Davies, a resolute defensive unit which also contributed a goal via the head of the determined Mawson, and a midfield four who worked so hard.
Up front it might be taking a little time for Tom Bradshaw to settle into his new challenge and Sam Winnall is always going to be a big miss, but across the park the Reds team poses threats and that was totally evident against Nigel Pearson’s Rams.
Ratings: Adam Davies 8 - Produced breath-taking saves from Forsyth and Russell in the second half. Showed his value once again.
James Bree 6 - Looked solid enough down the Reds’ right. Youngster will gain confidence from this win.
Marc Roberts 7 - Rock solid at the heart of the defence. Certainly made an impact against Derby’s front-men.
Alfie Mawson 8 - Awesome performance at the back. Made some great tackles and went on to bag crucial second goal.
Aidy White 7 - Marshalled Jacob Butterfield really well. Looks like a hugely competent Championship player.
Adam Hammill 6 - Frustration got the better of him once or twice. Not quite at his normally lethal best.
Josh Scowen 6 - Put the effort in centre of the Reds’ midfield. A consistent performer.
Conor Hourihane 8 - Another accomplished effort from the talented schemer. A real threat for Barnsley.
Ryan Kent 9 - Showed his class and was very unlucky not to open his Reds account. Tons of skills.
Tom Bradshaw 6 - It’s taking time for the striker to fins his feet at the higher level. Was replaced.
Marley Watkins 7 - Another 100-per-cent effort from the gutsy front-men. Causes opposition defences huge problems.
Subs: Stefan Payne (for Bradshaw, 72) 7 - Looked a handful. A big, strong forward player who shows promise.
Sessi D’Almeida (for Watkins, 90) 7 - Was only on the field for a couple of minutes.
Elliot Lee (for Hammill, 90) 6 - Was only on the field for a couple of minutes.
Subs not used: Nick Townsend, Andy Yiadom, Angus Macdonald, George Moncur.
Derby: Scott Carson 7, Craig Forsyth 7, Jason Shackell 7, Richard Keogh 7, Cyrus Christie 7, Jacob Butterfield 5 (Johnny Russell 55, 7), Craig Bryson 7, Jeff Hendrick 5 (Will Hughes 12, 6), Nick Blackman 7, Tom Ince 7, Darren Bent 5 (Chris Martin 46, 5).
Subs not used: Lee Grant, Alex Pearce, Bradley Johnson, Chris Baird.
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland) 6.