Barnsley 0 Leeds 2: Extra quality was key for Leeds United, says Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom acknowledged that his side were second best after two first-half goals handed Leeds United a well-deserved 2-0 victory at a packed Oakwell.
A crowd of 16,399 packed into the stadium - with 5,000 making the way down the M1 from Leeds - as Thomas Christiansen’s team bounced back from a poor run of four defeats in five matches to hand the Reds a second straight home Championship loss.
Goals from Samuel Saiz and Ezgjan Alioski made sure the points went back up to Elland Road following another frustrating home performance from the Reds.
“There was a clear difference in the quality on the pitch,” admitted Barnsley boss Heckingbottom.
“Their more technical players, their big-time players if you like, they performed and we didn’t as a rule.
“Their setplays were good, but I felt they were a real threat on the break, while also looking after the ball well.
“We didn’t test their ‘keeper nearly enough, and that meant there was a big difference in both final thirds.
“We just didn’t pass the ball well enough, and we didn’t show what we can do.
“Of course I have to give Leeds credit, but I have to look at us and what we do and there were things missing.”
Spanish star Saiz was afforded far too much space on the edge of the Reds box as he lashed in the opener after 23 minutes.
Deep into first-half added time Alioski doubled the United lead, slotting in low past Adam Davies after being neatly tee’d up by Luke Ayling.
The Reds could only muster three shots on target throughout a disappointing 90 minutes, the first of which didn’t arrive until beyond the hour mark from sub Ike Ugbo.
4-4-2 switch fails to work
Heckingbottom felt a change in formation from a 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 was necessary to try and pressurise Leeds more after half-time on Saturday, but ultimately the plan didn’t work.
Sub Ike Ugbo joined Tom Bradshaw up top with the Reds 2-0 behind at the break, but the gaffer felt it was worth a risk.
“We had to do something,” admitted Heckingbottom.
“We knew we might leave ourselves open a bit more as the game went on, but in that situation sometimes you have to take the risk.
“We were a limited in terms of personnel and what we had on offer from the bench, but you have to switch things and try things.”
The Reds must now head on the road for back-to-back away fixtures after defeats at home to Cardiff and Leeds.
Barnsley travel to Reading tomorrow and then rock-bottom Bolton on Saturday.
Striker Mamadou Thiam has been suffering from a back problem and hasn’t trained so didn’t even make the bench for the Leeds game.
He is rated as doubtful for the trip to the Madejski Stadium.
all we are saying . . .
Suddenly the goals have dried up over the past couple of games for Barnsley.
And perhaps most worryingly, those two games were both at Oakwell.
In midweek the Reds were up against a supremely-organised, high-flying Cardiff side who kept it tight at the back throughout and went on to nick a victory late on.
On Saturday, however, in front of the watching nation, any strike potency was rarely on view from the hosts in a massive derby fixture.
Just one goal in three games will now become a concern for Paul Heckingbottom of course, but which way will he play it with tricky trips to Reading and Bolton on the horizon this week?
Tom Bradshaw, Ike Ugbo and Mamadou Thiam have all shown a degree of encouragement so far this term, but only the ex-Walsall hit-man have made a truly telling impact, with nine goals in all competitions.