Barnsley FC defender makes surprise revelation regarding League One champions Portsmouth

BY common consent, Barnsley’s tail-off in the final third of last season was damning - and ultimately proved their tale of the tape in 2023-24.

What preceded it made it all the more unexpected.

At the start of March, the Reds had put themselves into top-two contention - let alone for the play-offs - only for the wheels to fall off in spectacular fashion in the spring by virtue of just two wins in their final 12 matches of the regular campaign.

They finished in the top six by the skin of their teeth.

Barnsley's Barry Cotter (right), pictured in action for the Reds in their League One home game with Peterborough United last season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Barnsley's Barry Cotter (right), pictured in action for the Reds in their League One home game with Peterborough United last season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Barnsley's Barry Cotter (right), pictured in action for the Reds in their League One home game with Peterborough United last season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Belatedly, the Oakwell outfit found some conviction and belief in the second leg of their play-off semi-final against Bolton Wanderers, but the damage had already been done and their season was over.

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Brief it may have been, but that second-half performance at Bolton did at least show what Barnsley were capable of, as did much of their display against champions Portsmouth a bit earlier in late season - on a night when Pompey clinched automatic promotion after two late goals in a 3-2 success.

It will have been noted by new head coach Darrell Clarke as he strives to galvanise a squad of players whose confidence was understandably hit by the events of late-season.

It proved that Barnsley, on their day, have the capacity to compete and beat the division’s very best.

That is something that the players who he inherits know full well too.

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On the Reds’ being able to flex their muscles with the division’s big-hitters, wing-back Barry Cotter said: “Even when we have lost games (we have showed that).

"We had a few of the (home) players in the middle of the Portsmouth game saying that this was the hardest game we have played here all season and we were just laughing at them and not getting involved in the small talk or anything like that.

"We just needed to be focused with the intensity we play at.

"It’s nice to know, but it’s almost as if ‘what do you expect us to do, fold over because of where they were in the table?’

"We are not that type of team and we are ready for any challenge that comes our way and not to show that in future.”