Barnsley: Second? We’re targeting top spot insists Reds coach Tonge
While everyone thinks Barnsley will be looking over their shoulders in the race for League One automatic promotion race, assistant head coach Dale Tonge wants to finish the season as champions.
The Reds, who host Blackpool on Saturday, occupy second spot going into their final two games, though Portsmouth and Sunderland are breathing down their necks and both have a game in hand.
Pompey will pip them to automatic promotion should they win their remaining three games, but one of them is against the Black Cats, so a tense finale is on the horizon.
But Barnsley have found their groove and are suddenly looking up as champions-elect Luton have stuttered.
The Hatters have only won on of their last four games and Daniel Stendel's men have closed to within three points.
It would take an unlikely set of results for Barnsley to top the table come the end of the season, but that is what Tonge is wishing for.
Tonge said: "We are only three points behind, so why not. All we can do is focus on us and get the next six points and if we do that, what will be, will be."
Their quest for the title will be helped by the surprise return of Kieffer Moore, who is back in the fold having initially been ruled out for the season with a nasty head injury.
The striker, who was prolific before his injury, made two substitute appearances over the Easter weekend, getting an emotional reception when he climbed off the bench during Good Friday's win over Shrewsbury.
"I was surprised,” Tonge added. “He came through the protocols last week and it just shows the determination and character of the lad.
"He has been outstanding while he has been away and great in the dressing room and around the group.
"It has been a long time since I heard an ovation like that last Friday. It was quite special."
Despite missing the last two months Moore was still named in the PFA League One Team of the Year along side Adam Davies, Ethan Pinnock, Dimitri Cavare and Alex Mowatt, with Barnsley becoming just the third Yorkshire side to see a quintet of players named in a yearly line-up since the start of the PFA awards in 1973-74.
Tonge added: "I think it speaks volumes, not just for the individuals, but the team as a whole and the squad especially that these players have been recognised.
"And hopefully it is just rewards come the end of the season.”