Missed opportunities leave Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom frustrated

Barnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom
Barnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom
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BARNSLEY manager Paul Heckingbottom cut a frustrated figure after seeing his side’s flickering play-off hopes extinguished after a 2-0 defeat at Norwich City.

“The take-away message from that game is hit the target, score goals,” he said after the Reds dropped to 11th place.

“There were plenty of positives to take away from it, but if you are going to get anything in this league you have got to be clinical in front of goal.

“I said that last week when Ipswich scored a last-minute equaliser to deny us a win and it was the same today. We could easily have got something out of this if we had taken our chances.

“Instead, we have given two sloppy goals away and come away with nothing.

“It’s frustrating, but there is still plenty to play for. We will keep striving to get that perfect performance and obviously want to win as many games as possible between now and the end of the season.”

Caretaker manager Alan Irvine believes Norwich could yet mount a late bid for the play-offs but he does not know if he will be around to mastermind it.

Irvine completed his initial two-match spell in charge and, with other results going their way, the Canaries are just five points off the top six.

They will be hoping to keep up the pressure when they resume their campaign at Aston Villa in a fortnight, but Irvine is unsure whether he will still be in charge, with the club yet to decide on a replacement for Alex Neil.

“I was asked to take charge for two games and I have done that,” said Irvine, who confirmed last week he would not be applying for the manager’s job on a permanent basis.

It’s frustrating, but there is still plenty to play for. We will keep striving to get that perfect performance.

Barnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom

“I haven’t heard anything more about what happens going forward, but I should imagine I will be speaking to someone soon to find out what happens next week.

“If that is to be my last game in charge it was a good way to finish – and the win certainly makes it interesting as far as the play-offs are concerned. Being five points behind sounds a lot better than being eight points behind – and there are still plenty of points to play for. Any side who puts a run together now can quickly climb, and I think this group of players has got the ability to do just that.”

Barnsley reacted well to going behind on the stroke of half-time when Jacob Murphy fired home his 10th goal of the season after good work from Cameron Jerome. But their hopes were effectively snuffed out midway through the second period as goalkeeper Adam Davies’s save from Murphy cannoned off Angus MacDonald and into the net.

Norwich City: McGovern, Ivo Pinto, Bennett, Martin, Whittaker, Howson, Tettey, Jacob Murphy (Dorrans 84), Pritchard, Hoolahan (Naismith 30), Jerome (Oliveira 84). Unused substitutes: Ruddy, Klose, Wildschut, Josh Murphy.

Barnsley: Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, MacDonald, Jones, Watkins (Mowatt 78), James, Scowen, Hammill (Hedges 81), Armstrong (Kent 56), Bradshaw. Unused substitutes: Moncur, Townsend, Adam Jackson, Janko.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).