Altrincham 1 Barnsley 0: Johnson vows to revive fortunes if Barnsley board allow him time

Barnsley manager Lee Johnson. Picture: Tony Johnson.Barnsley manager Lee Johnson. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Barnsley manager Lee Johnson. Picture: Tony Johnson.
LEE JOHNSON insists he is the man to turn around Barnsley’s fortunes in spite of defeat to the non-leaguers at Moss Lane.

He emerged from a pitchside meeting with chairman Maurice Watkins and chief executive Ben Mansford confident that he will be allowed to continue as head coach despite this defeat coming on top of seven straight losses in League One.

Barnsley’s only win in at that time has been at Bradford in the JP Trophy, a competition they get another crack at against York City tomorrow night at Oakwell.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Defeat then may well change the views of the men at the top.

After his impromptu meeting, Johnson came back up the tunnel to state: “My overall feeling is one of anger. I’m angry with the situation. I have to concede that they deserved their win, which is not on from our point of view.

“I have been a giant-killer in my days at Yeovil and I know how hard people work but I just feel that there is a soft underbelly at the moment – the club’s 18s and 21s can’t get a win and the first team can’t get a win so we need to shake it up somehow.

“If I’m still here, like people obviously keep questioning, I will be the one to shake it up for sure.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The talk on the pitchside was very good, to be honest. They said what do you need because we are going to help you. Football is football and it’s been an horrendous run and you never know what is going to happen round the corner but, by the same token, I still believe that I am the man.”

Underlining what is required, Johnson continued: “Sacking me is not the right answer. You only have to look at previous managers and what they’ve done when they have left. They are good managers and I’m a good manager. I believe in myself and I will turn it round if given the opportunity.

“We need a lot, that’s for sure. We need our best players back fit. We need a couple of ‘blokes’ who can look after people physically and verbally and we need to get a group out there that we believe is playing for the badge on the front and not the name on the back.”

He clearly is confident of excorcising the demons judging by the comment: “Every game means everything. I remember going crazy in a pre-season friendly at Guiseley when it was 0-0 because I see dead people. I see when I look in people’s eyes whether they have got that real fire – a sort of window to the soul if you like – and too many of ours are rabbits in the headlights.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I have four or five who I know I can hang my hat on but that is not enough. They are either not good enough or they can’t find that inner strength to produce their best game unless everything is perfect for them, unless they are rested, unless they’re happy, unless the crowd is cheering. There are too many things that give them the opportunity to go under.”

The most alarming part of Saturday’s game as far as Barnsley were concerned was that there was little to no difference between the sides.

However, Altrincham are no strangers to giant-killing acts – Barnsley’s was their 17th Football League scalp in the FA Cup – and neither is their manager.

Bradford City legend Lee Sinnott played in the 1984 final at 18 for Watford against Everton and he admitted to playing on Barnsley’s poor run.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Altrincham chief missed the 47th-minute winning goal as he was still studying his notes after having had to ‘crack the whip’ in his half-time team talk.

He explained: “I thought we could have done more. Sometimes you need to get the whip out a little bit because sometimes you go in at 0-0 and think ‘that’s good enough for us’ but I didn’t think it was.

“I did not go ballistic or bananas because they had done well in a way but to see us through and get the result which we did we needed to pick it up a bit.”

Regarding Alty’s approach, Sinnott said: “We were aware of their situation. I was telling the players ‘you have got to push the buttons, you have to play on their fears because everybody has fears in football’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Because of the run that they had been under, we knew that if we could just push those buttons which bring their fears to the surface then we would have a better opportunity.”

The winner came through one of the players Sinnott had under him at Farsley, Damian Reeves.

It came when Ryan Crowther robbed Ben Pearson near halfway, bore down the left channel and hit a low shot which Adam Davies palmed into the path of the 29-year-old, who tapped in a trademark finish.

“What you do know about Damian is that he does like that penalty box. That’s where he comes alive and he was alive to what could happen next and that’s why he scores goals,” said Sinnott.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alty hero Reeves admitted: “I’ve had a good few of them over the years but you have got to be in the right place at the right time. People take the Mick and say ‘you get a lot of tap-ins’ but if you’re not there you don’t get them.”

Sadly for Barnsley, they had no-one to match his predatory skills, Sam Winnall going closest with a shot towards the near post which brought a fine save from Tim Deasy.

The only encouraging news was the return of play-maker Conor Hourihane defying hamstring trouble, though that came in a triple 53rd-minute substitution after their main driving force, Josh Scowen, had been crunched and forced to go off with a right knee injury.

Left winer Lloyd Isgrove – allowed to play by parent club Southampton, though Swindon blocked striker Michael Smith turning out – also defied a shoulder injury to come off the bench but few others put their bodies on the line.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Altrincham: Deasy, Sinnott, Havern (Heathcote 64), Leather, Griffin; Moult; Lawrie, Richman, O’Keefe, Crowther (Clee 76); Reeves (Rankine 88). Unused substitutes: Bowerman, Swift, Williams, Stouppis.

Barnsley: Davies, Wabara, Roberts (Isgrove 53), Nyatanga, G Smith; Mawson; Pearson, Scowen (Hourihane 53); Maris (Wilkinson 53); Winnall, Watkins. Unused substitutes: Townsend, Bree, Jackson, White.

Referee: A Haines (Tyne & Wear).