There is plenty for Barnsley to learn after their return to the Championship following a two-year exile ended in a 4-2 defeat at Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich.
After an impressive perfomance in a goalless first period the hosts’ half-time substitute Grant Ward went on to strike a memorable hat-trick on his debut.
The Reds responded with strikes from Conor Hourihane and sub Marley Watkins - who replaced hamstring injury victim Sam Winnall - leaving boss Paul Heckingbottom to reflect on plenty of positives, despite the outcome.
Heckingbottom said: “There were lots of positives to take from the performance. We have to learn from these games, though.
“We’re not going to pat each other on the back when we get beat, we’ll do thatwhen we see improvements and start getting results from good performances.
“We have gone up a league and if you give teams opportunities, they’re going to punish us.
“That’s what happened.”
Reds may need to ‘play uglier’
Half-time substitutions appeared to do the trick for Mick McCarthy as his Ipswich side netted four times in the second period.
Promotion from League One at Wembley was ultimately sealed thanks to lots of sparkling attacking play from the Oakwell boys last term, but that might not necessarily work this term.
Heckingbottom said: “We haven’t gone up a league to be pretty and get beat.
“We were really disappointed to concede four goals, but we can do something about the manner of the goals. We’d rather come away from here, play a bit uglier, but win the game. It’s all about the three points.
“The players know that they can compete at this level.
“They belong here, and we had more than 1,000 fans at Ipswich which was fantastic. They all know that they have a team that will give everything.”
no need to be downhearted
Reds fans shouldn’t be too disheartened by the o defeat.
Their team put up a great fight at Portman Road, and were only really undone by an inspirational second-half performance from Grant Ward - a big-money summer signing from Tottenham.
In the first half in particular, the visitors showed that they do have the quality and the nouse to get through a Championship campaign that will bring its challenges, but should also feature enough victories to secure survival comfortably. That’s the ultimate goal for Paul Heckingbottom’s charges.
Ipswich were contenders last season, but they were pegged back numerous times on Saturday.
The Reds created a number of very decent chances - with new boy Tom Bradshaw impressing - and they will hurt opposition teams.
Of course the injury to last term’s talisman Sam Winnall will be a concern until the full extent of the damage is known, but Derby know that they will be in for a real battle this coming weekend at Oakwell.