Barnsley fired-up to defend their hard-fought place in promotion spots

Having waited the best part of six months to climb their way back into the automatic-promotion places in League One, Barnsley head coach Daniel Stendel is keen for his side to stay there.

Friday, 8th February 2019, 09:51 am
Updated Friday, 8th February 2019, 09:57 am
Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel is not about to give up the Reds place in the automatic promotion spots. Pic: Dave Howarth/PA Wire.

The Reds topped the table after the opening two games of the season but after drawing with Portsmouth in early December they slipped out of the top six for the first time.

After that 1-1 draw at Oakwell they were 12 points behind Pompey, who topped the pile, but since then the Reds have only been heading in one direction.

They have won seven of their last nine league games, drawing the other two, to climb a point above Kenny Jackett's side into second.

Stendel's team travel to Gillingham on Saturday hoping to consolidate their position, but insists his side are not feeling the pressure.

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“We want to win this game, we spent a long time trying to get to second in the table and we want to defend this place,” he said. “We need three points.

“In the first half of the season there was more pressure.

“At the moment I have a very good feeling from the players, from the dressing room, they are very concentrated, very focused for the games.

“We are focused on not feeling so much pressure and it is a good feeling. We are happy to play.”

The Reds will continue to have Dale Tonge in their dugout at the Priestfield Stadium after his role as assistant head coach was extended until the end of the season.

Tonge, who won promotion with the Reds as a player over a decade ago, was doing the job on a temporary basis following Andreas Winkler's defection to Huddersfield.

Stendel, who has been considering finding a German-based coach to replace Winkler permanently, has hinted that Tonge could get the role full-time.

“It's possible,” he admitted. “We said two weeks ago after the three games we would assess and then summer was the next step. All is possible and at the moment I am happy and then we will see.

“He has experience of English football, he knows the players in League One, he has experience of coaching in the youth academy, it is good that he is in the team.”