What a difference a month has made. A resurgent Barnsley now sit in tenth spot on League One, only two points outside a coveted top six spot. Confidence is rising on and off the pitch and Barnsley's Head Coach is in no mood for compromise.

What a difference a month has made. A resurgent Barnsley now sit in tenth spot in League One, only two points outside a coveted top six spot. Confidence is rising on and off the pitch and Barnsley's Head Coach is in no mood for compromise.

“We have to go out on Saturday and make sure we keep the hammer down," Johnson has stressed, in conversations this week with the media.

“We’ve had a good start and I thank the players for that, but we’ve got to continue to strive forward. We just have to make sure we keep going.”

Far from being complacent, there's a serious air of intent in those small soundbites. For the first time in several seasons, Reds fans can look forward to a battle for betterment rather than scrap for survival.

We look ahead to the closing campaign and ask, is a play-off place ours to lose?


Despite the defensive weaknesses that have affected the Reds, on an almost perennial basis, the recent lock-outs should be considered as a genuine signal that real change has finally happened. The first-eleven has started to have a  certain semblance of permanency about them. Whilst recent squads have not included Winnall and Ramage, both will undoubtedly return and have colossal part to play in terms of where Barnsley will finish.

After a less than convincing first attempt at the dawn of the season, Adam Davies has made a real claim for the number one jersey recently, in the absence of Turnbull. We can be happy that Waring has a passion for the shirt and remains at Oakwell until the end of the season, with the heirarchy also looking to replicate that sort of agreement too for Manchester United loanee Ben Pearson. Hourihane is showing glimpses of recapturing the imperious form and attitude which brought him so much praise, before the rumoured link with Doncaster in the last transfer window. And if anyone could, Mason Holgate is shaping up rapidly to to fill the void left by England international, John Stones at Barnsley Football Club.


Whilst complacency has to be guarded against, there's another less welcome quality that is worrying me more. Maybe the point I'm trying to make is summed up best in, Greavsie: The Autobiography by Jimmy Greaves who said, "An experienced pro very rarely has a bad game. He may have a game where his performance and contribution fall somewhat short of normal, but rarely will it be poor. Young players, on the other hand, are wildly inconsistent. They can be on fire in one game and anonymous in the next."

Whilst it's not inevitable that the final twelve fixtures will contain a substantial number of off-colour performances, it is reasonable to expect it will happen. When Preston North End and Sheffield United visit Oakwell, we will need to be at our very best. Away from home on those key trips to Bristol City, Oldham and Bradford City, can we expect every player to stand up and be counted?


The deal which saw Leroy Lita join Notts County on loan for the remainder of the season may prove to be one of Lee Johnson's earliest and potentially most prudent decision. Whilst Lita has undoubtedly proven his talents at the likes of Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Swansea City, his stay in South Yorkshire has largely been disappointing. After scoring in his first two league games, since 19 August a twenty-one game barren spell has ensued.

Perhaps one consideration may have been that a senior professional of his calibre, who may not have been enjoying his football, could have been a destabilising influence amongst the younger crop. Equally, with Sam Winnall looking like he may have recovered from his own injury nightmare and George Waring being the preferred partner up top, Lita could see the writing on the wall.

With a bit of financial freedom that the Lita deal creates, Johnson might have a bit of room to shake the dice once more and identify one or two faces to help us get over the line.

[UPDATE] Lee Johnson has snapped up two players today, Friday 6 March. Cardiff City’s teenage left-back Declan John and experienced Colchester United striker Jabo Ibehre, both on loan for the remainder of the season.


The atmosphere and noise at Oakwell has been muted of late. That's understandable. It's not necessarily a nervousness amongst supporters, it's been more like a communal apathy that swept in and like a bad case of flu, it's been bloody hard to shift. With six games on home soil, including the potential pivotal meeting against Keith Hill's Rochdale on the final day, it's important that the Ponty End is rocking and that all supporters generate the noise to lift performances on the pitch.

Results, even potential losses against relegation threatened clubs like Leyton Orient, Colchester or Notts County won't determine the outcome. You don't have to look too far back to remember how we won on the road at Charlton Athletic last season, only to realise that our survival was not resolved as a result of that ecstatic trip. We can afford to lose and still achieve our goals. It may be that defeat comes from the most unexpected places. But let's keep the faith. Let's not waiver.

Come on Barnsley fans. Do you think a play-off place is still a realistic proposition given our inconsistencies over the season? Or, maybe you think we've done enough already to consolidate our position and look forward to another tilt at League One next season? Wade into this discussion now, we would love to hear your views. Get in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook, or leave your comments on this post below.

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Ian Wilkinson

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