Norwich City 2 Barnsley 0: Heckingbottom raps sloppy goals conceded
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom cut a frustrated figure after watching his side crash to defeat at managerless Norwich.
A goal in each half secured the Canaries their first victory in seven games, while the Reds’ worrying run of form continues - they have now picked up just two points from their last six fixtures, heading into the international break.
Heckingbottom said: “Our lads went to a big team like Norwich, who are packed with players who think they should be playing in the Premier League, and we created enough opportunities to have won the game.
“There were positives, but the negatives were definitely the two goals.
“They were both sloppy on our part.
“When we played how we wanted to play, we were passing the ball better, quicker, sharper and penetrating them much easier. We created some good chances from that.
“But some players were playing without belief, like they knew we weren’t going to win the game.
“But that’s not how we play. We were much better in the second half, though.
“Again, in terms of negatives we were poor in front of goal, very tame and we didn’t take any of the many chances we created.
“In essence, we got it wrong at both ends.”
Winger Jacob Murphy grabbed his 10th goal of the season as he converted Cameron Jerome’s cross just before half-time.
In the 71st minute, the Canaries doubled their lead when Murphy’s effort deflected off Angus MacDonald and flew into the net.
Adam Hammill, MacDonald and Marley Watkins all went close for the Reds in the second half, while Hammill also saw a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside.
End product missing
The Reds created bags of chances but it’s all about putting the ball in the back of the net and that simply didn’t happen.
That left a bitter-sweet taste in boss Paul Heckingbottom’s mouth.
He said: “I was really pleased with the way we carved out opportunities.
“We had a few counters which were good and we also tried to break down what was at times a Norwich back 10.
“Five, six, seven, even eight times we broke them down, but the most important thing is the end product.
“We had chances to shoot, to pull the trigger, but we passed them chances up.”
Plenty to fight for
With the Reds currently enduring a rather miserable run of form in the Championship, the international break has probably come at an ideal time for boss Paul Heckingbottom.
Overall it’s been a hugely satisfactory first campaign back in the extremely tough second tier for Barnsley.
Many people’s tip to go straight back down to League One, they’ve done themselves proud in securing their current 11th position in the table.
At present they are 11 points adrift of the play-off positions, and 11 clear of the drop zone.
With eight games remaining of course they look safe, so what’s in store after this fortnight’s break?
The Reds can certainly have a say in determining other teams’ destiny going forward.
The next game - on April Fool’s Day - is the massive Oakwell clash against the play-off chasing Owls, while also left to play are relegation-haunted pair Blackburn and Wigan (away on April 8 and 15 respectively), and Bristol City away (22nd).
Then, the Reds’ final game could be a mouth-watering one indeed as they travel to title-chasing Newcastle on Sunday, May 7.
There’s still plenty for Reds fans to look forward to before the deckchairs beckon.