Barnsley 2 Middlesbrough 2: Reds players have come a long way says manager Paul Heckingbottom

Cameron McGeehan   celebrates scoring his team's second against Middlesbrough. Photo: James Hardisty
Cameron McGeehan celebrates scoring his team's second against Middlesbrough. Photo: James Hardisty

Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom appeared satisfied with his team’s battling performance after they had gone toe-to-toe with big-spending Middlesbrough at a packed Oakwell.

The Reds were twice pegged back by Garry Monk’s side before having to settle for a thrilling 2-2 draw - a result which proved once again that Heckingbottom’s men can mix it with the so-called big boys.

Heckingbottom said: “There were spells when we were really good and spells that frustrated me.

“When I sat down with the players after the draw with QPR I was probably a bit hard on them, but looking back on this game we have managed to take a point from Boro so I have to shake my head a little bit and be realistic.

“The players have come a long, long way, and now we need to focus on the bits we did well.

“I do have to check myself sometimes. I want things instantly, straight away, but I know I have to slow myself down a little bit and just look at the bigger picture.”

There was a frantic start on Saturday, with three goals in the opening 10 minutes.

Reds’ Wembley 2016 hero Ashley Fletcher headed into his own net to give the hosts the lead, before Martin Braithwaite levelled.

Cameron McGeehan’s first Barnsley goal restored the advantage, before Britt Assombalonga drilled home to make it 2-2 in the second half.

Harvey Barnes almost won it when he struck a post late on.

The Reds will hope to build on their impressive form when another of last season’s Premier League relegated sides - Hull - arrive at Oakwell this Saturday.

McGeehan deserved goal

With national boss Michael O’Neill watching from the stand, Northern Irish midfielder Cameron McGeehan shone and scored his first Barnsley goal.

Ex-Luton schemer McGeehan (22) was hit by troublesome injuries earlier in the campaign following a summer switch from Kenilworth Road, but he’s certainly earned all the praise that has come his way this past month.

“I spoke with Cameron a couple of weeks ago and I explained I’d purposely not made it easy for him to get in the team,” said Reds boss Paul Heckingbottom.

“Everyone here know we can give appearances away, we can’t give debuts away, the players have to earn them.

“Even though I knew how far Cameron had come and how hard he’d worked since his injury, I still had to be tough on him because it’s a tough league.

“He has earned his start and he earned his goal here.

“We have got a decent squad in terms of competition now so they’ve all got to stay on their toes and perform now.”

shortage of clean sheets

Although the Reds continue to prove they can step up and challenge the best the Championship has to offer, the continued leaking of goals will surely be of concern to manager Paul Heckingbottom.

Another two were conceded rather disappointingly on Saturday, meaning the Reds have only kept one clean sheet in their last 19 games in all competitions.

That came in August when Barnsley impressively thumped Sunderland 3-0 at Oakwell.

As the manager continues to say, this season’s is a new team, and one which contains a fair sprinkling of younger players.

The Reds players will continue to learn and get better playing at this very high standard, but they need to try and keep that back door firmly shut a little more often.

The defence has a brilliant goalkeeper behind them to back them up in the form of Adam Davies.