Talk of Wembley date for Barnsley far from Johnson’s mind

Alfie Mawson celebrates scoring Barnsley's match-winning goal against Bradford on Tuesday.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Alfie Mawson celebrates scoring Barnsley's match-winning goal against Bradford on Tuesday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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DESPITE a possible path to the latter stages of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy having opened up in front of Barnsley this week, Lee Johnson insists the only talk of Wembley at Oakwell right now concerns a forthcoming meeting of Football League analysts at the nearby Arena.

The Reds moved into the northern quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-1 victory at Bradford City in Tuesday’s delayed tie.

York City are next up for Barnsley on November 10 in a repeat of a fixture that last season saw the Oakwell side knock the League Two team out in the first round with a 2-0 triumph.

With only Sheffield United of the other remaining seven sides in the northern half of the draw currently occupying a play-off place, the Oakwell club surely have as good a chance as any of going on an extended run after reaching the regional last eight for the first time.

“No talk of Wembley from us, not at all,” said Johnson when asked about the possibility of the Reds going all the way. “Apart from there being a conference that our analyst is going to at Wembley Arena.

“Seriously, it is far too early to talk about Wembley (in the Trophy). The northern section is too tough to do it. Plus, it would be disrespectful to anyone still in the draw.

“We dream of it, of course we do. I would love to lead the team out.

“We would take 45,000 to Wembley, I reckon.

“I would love nothing more than something like that.

“The dream is still there after beating Bradford. And that is what we have to aspire to.”

Tuesday’s triumph at Valley Parade, in a tie that had been postponed from the previous week following a deluge of rain over Bradford ahead of the scheduled kick-off. followed a win by the same scoreline at Scunthorpe United in the first round.

It was a welcome fillip for Johnson’s men following back-to-back league defeats against Doncaster Rovers and Crewe Alexandra.

Johnson said: “What I was really pleased with from such a young group was how competitive we were. When you go to Bradford, you know it will be a difficult game and that they will plough balls into difficult areas.

“You have to stand up to that and compete. And I thought our back three were very, very strong. Neither team had too many shots, if I am honest.

“I am just well chuffed to be in the next round, when we will face another Yorkshire derby.

“The change worked in that it gave us strength in both boxes. I would have liked to see us be a bit more fluent with the ball in the first half, and we had to change a few things at half-time.

“Once the game opened up in the second half, I thought we were the better side.”

The win at Bradford was achieved without Joe Rothwell, who earlier in the day had been recalled by parent club Manchester United after being struck down by a bout of tonsillitis. His departure means the Reds have a loan spot that has become free, and Johnson admits the club could move to bring in a new face.

“It is tempting to bring someone else in,” added the Barnsley manager. “We could do with another body. There are still a few players on the free market, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a loan. We have a couple in mind. And if we can, we will.

“As for Joe, it is a big operation and not just a bog-standard tonsils being taken out.

“With all the modern equipment Manchester United have got, it should help him get back quicker. He hasn’t played as much as he would have liked, which is probably due to this.

“He has been out with a couple of niggles and when he was looking right to come in, he ended up getting this throat infection and was unable to train.

“It was frustrating him, especially as he kept getting a recurrence of this tonsillitis over the last three or four years.”