Barnsley v Colchester United: Resurgent Barnsley looking for rivals’ respect

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IT may not compare to the memorable zenith of life in the Premier League but, in these tougher times, Barnsley hope to secure a milestone of relative note tonight.

If they can secure victory over visiting Colchester United it will be the first time in almost two years they have delivered three successive wins.

Barnsley boss Danny Wilson.

Barnsley boss Danny Wilson.

It will also stretch their unbeaten run to four games and act as a sign of further progress for a side relegated from the Championship last season.

For Danny Wilson, the manager now in his second spell at Oakwell having initially guided them to the elite in 1997, it is encouraging but he concedes there is plenty more work needed if they are to push on and escape League One.

“We want to be a good team that people look up to and respect and I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” he said, having returned to Barnsley almost 12 months ago.

“These are small steps we’re taking at the moment but we’re getting there and there’s been progress on a monthly basis.

“That’s pleasing but it’s a long race. We’re not saying the same things over and over again to players like you have to do as an initial part of putting a team together.

“We’re hopefully moving on. There’s lots of areas need a lot of work on still but we’re getting into our stride better than we were at the start of the season.”

A 1-0 derby win at Sheffield United was followed up with a 5-0 annihilation of Burton Albion in the FA Cup last Saturday.

Barnsley have lost just twice in their last eight outings and currently sit 12th, six places above tonight’s opponents.

Though Colchester only have four league wins this term, Wilson refuses to look too much into that statistic especially considering they have lost just once in their last seven matches.

“They are very underestimated if I’m very honest,” he added.

“We’ve watched them on numerous occasions, had DVDs of recent games as well, and they’ve put some decent performances together.

“Almost because they’re not a particularly big club – and I’ll use that word without being disrespectful to them – they aren’t really fancied any time but they have some good players in there.

“Freddie Sears is knocking goals in and has 11 so far this season.

“For a team allegedly not going to do anything this season they are doing all right.

“For our approach it has to be very, very similar to what it’s been recently. We’re up against some tough opposition and if we allow them to play they will.”

Barnsley are without three of their younger players given on-loan Fulham duo Ryan Williams (Australia Under-23s) and Marcello Trotta (Italy Under-21s) plus midfielder Paul Digby (England Under-20s) are all away on international duty.

“Ryan’s been the most regular of those and he has made an impact, no doubt,” offered Wilson.

“I’m hoping he’s not a big loss and we’ve enough in the squad to help us through.

“Hopefully it will be seamless but he has played very well and given us something different.”

Colchester are still without injured trio Drey Wright, David Wright and Tosin Olufemi but could hand a debut to new loan signing Jamie Harney, who joined from West Ham on Wednesday after Elliott Hewitt’s loan spell from Ipswich came to an end.

The hosts, of course, will look to Sam Winnall to continue his recent prolific form.

The striker netted just once in his first dozen games after joining from League One Scunthorpe during the summer but has now scored seven in his last seven outings, a ratio swelled by an impressive hat-trick versus Burton.

On the 23-year-old, Wilson admitted: “He’s only young in his Football League career but like a lot who develop into prolific scorers, it’s just that sheer selfishness that is key.

“He has that real, real desire and willingness to just score goals. He loves that feeling.

“If he’s not had a chance in a game he’s very upset. If he gets a chance and misses he’s upset.

“If there’s opportunity for a ball to get in the box and it doesn’t come in when he’s there, he’s upset. That’s a trait all the good scorers have; he’s hungry for them and has very much been like that when I met him on day one.”

Wilson has urged his side to follow Winnall’s lead with regards potency.

“In terms of attacking, we have to be a little more clinical when chances are presented,” he said.

“I know we scored five last week but that’s not the point; when games are tight you want one opportunity you get to be enough.

“You don’t want five or six chances to put one goal away.

“We can be more aggressive in our approach work out wide and tighter in some of our defensive stuff, too. Maybe that’s me being a bit picky. But that’s my job.”