Marc Roberts believes Barnsley are being afforded much more respect from opposing teams than was the case at the start of the season.
The Reds have enjoyed an encouraging return to the Championship following last season’s promotion via the play-offs.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side sit in the top half of the table as the season nears the halfway point, a standing that is far superior to the other clubs who came up from League One in May.
Wigan Athletic occupy a place in the relegation zone, while Burton Albion sit fourth bottom to underline just how tough it can be to adapt to life in the second tier.
“We have done well,” the former FC Halifax Town defender told The Yorkshire Post. “Definitely. We surprised a couple of teams in the first few weeks and I am finding the opposition giving us a lot more respect now. That has been a big change.
“The gaffer always says we have to challenge ourselves to be better. We can’t be happy where we are. If you are, you only go one way. We don’t want to just aim for mid-table or just stay up. The aim was to stay up for many people but I think we have shown we can compete with a lot of big teams in this league and, hopefully, push on from this position to finish as high as we can.”
Barnsley head to Cardiff City today for a game with Neil Warnock’s men. The lifelong Blade will know all about the strides being made by a club where he spent two years as a player in the Seventies.
He is also likely to have been briefed as to how unfortunate the Reds were to lose at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek on a night when Heckingbottom’s men created enough chances to make the short trip home with a point.
That they did not was a source of frustration, as was the late dismissal of Adam Hammill following an ugly two-footed challenge on Sam Hutchinson. The wideman will not return until the New Year.
“The defeat at Hillsborough was disappointing from our point of view because we did all right but gave away what, for us, were two rubbish goals,” admitted Roberts. “That was the difference on the night. We missed a couple of decent opportunities and you have to take those because it means you can get bitten at the other end.
“The fans were as disappointed as us, I am sure. It was a big derby game and meant a lot to people around the town. It is disappointing but we had to move on straight away, and look to Cardiff away.”