Barnsley’s defensive duo have unfinished business in Championship

Liam Lindsay: Formed strong partnership with Ethan Pinnock. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Liam Lindsay: Formed strong partnership with Ethan Pinnock. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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THE weather may have been autumnal as opposed to summery this week, but should Liam Lindsay still have been on UK shores then a smile would not have been far away from his face.

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Barnsley's Ethan Pinnock (left) and Burnley's Sam Vokes (right) battle for the ball in the FA Cup, third round match at Turf Moor. Picture: Dave Howarth/PA

Barnsley's Ethan Pinnock (left) and Burnley's Sam Vokes (right) battle for the ball in the FA Cup, third round match at Turf Moor. Picture: Dave Howarth/PA

Last summer was a rotten one for the Barnsley defender and it was nothing to do with the elements.

Stewing alongside the rest of his team-mates after the Reds’ relegation from the Championship, the Scot is the first to admit that he took the disappointment badly, with it effectively ruining his summer.

Twelve months on and with a promotion on the CV after a cathartic campaign, the former Patrick Thistle centre-back will be looking forward to Thursday’s unveiling of the EFL fixture list with considerably more relish than he was last June.

Lindsay told The Yorkshire Post: “I will try and make the most of this one (summer) as last year’s was a bit of a write-off. I am looking forward to it.

We pride ourselves on clean sheets, whoever is playing, and to get the most in the league is a good achievement for the defenders and the whole team because we work together defending as a team.

Liam Lindsay

“What happened was in the back of my mind last summer. You just go over everything and think, ‘if only we had nicked a goal and won one of those games, got three points and got to wherever’.

“Of course it was hard. That season (2017-18) was tough for everyone and, for a young squad, for us to bounce back shows our character. It is a brilliant achievement for everybody.

“Last year was hard, but this summer is much better.”

Quite rightly the likes of Cauley Woodrow and Kieffer Moore received bouquets for their scoring feats in Barnsley’s joyous re-emergence in 2018-19, alongside a midfield that possessed an embarrassment of riches and was the envy of their League One rivals.

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But sages would suggest with justification and conviction that the bedrock of Barnsley’s promotion from League One was forged upon resounding defensive statistics.

After all, it was no less an authority than Sir Alex Ferguson who once said, ‘Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.’

Barnsley may have missed out on the title on the final day of last season to Luton Town, but a runners-up trophy took pride of place during the celebrations among Reds players after their commitments ended at Bristol Rovers – and a big reason for that was the goods at the back.

It was a season in which Lindsay and defensive partner Ethan Pinnock arguably proved to be the outstanding centre-back double act in the third tier.

The statistics bore this out in a campaign that saw Barnsley record 21 clean sheets with their concession of 39 goals in 46 games being the best among the entire 72 clubs in the EFL.

It played a key part in Daniel Stendel’s side also achieving the outstanding feat of going through a season without so much as one home league defeat – the Lindsay-Pinnock axis as critical as the contributions further up the field.

Lindsay added: “We pride ourselves on clean sheets, whoever is playing, and to get the most in the league is a good achievement for the defenders and the whole team because we work together defending as a team.

“It is good form and also a good achievement in not having lost at home all season. It is unbelievable.

“Promotion was the icing on the cake in terms of getting promoted before the last game and having a bit of security.

“It helped us just enjoy the week and not be pressured.”

After the parties and wild scenes of celebrations that followed the Reds’ promotion without a ball being kicked at the end of April and the subsequent ecstatic post-match scenes at the Memorial Stadium four days later focus is turning to next season with those players who were part of the relegation side of 2017-18 plainly having unfinished business.

The likes of Lindsay and Pinnock bracket themselves firmly among that number.

While Lindsay was a regular during that last Reds foray in the second tier, his central defensive cohort found opportunities harder to come by and he took time to acclimatise to Championship life following his move from Forest Green in summer 2017.

Now both are approaching their prime and ready to deal with whatever the division throws up at them.

Lindsay, the subject of ongoing speculation with several second-tier sides linked alongside Italian side Brescia, but planning on resuming his partnership with Pinnock in August, added: “I think we complement each other and are good friends off the pitch as well, which can only help.

“It will be interesting to see how we will do if we got a full Championship season together.”