Barnsley v Chesterfield: Barnsley still have belief in reaching play-offs

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ADAM DAVIES suffered a rare sensation on Monday tea-time and did not like it one little bit.

Winning or certainly not getting beat had become a welcome habit with the 22-year-old between the posts for Barnsley in 2015, but all that changed at Colchester United where the Reds suffered a 3-1 loss which proved damaging in more ways than one.

Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts

Davies may have tasted defeat for the first time in nine games this calendar year, but his greater concern was that it inflicted a painful blow to the Reds’ play-off bid.

It leaves Lee Johnson’s side with precious little margin for error ahead of this afternoon’s game with the side who occupy the sixth position they crave on May 2, in-form Chesterfield.

Davies is still a believer, mind.

Davies, who kept five clean sheets and conceded just once during Barnsley’s season-turning run of six successive wins from February 21 to March 14 which transformed them from relegation possibles to top-six candidates, said: “Monday was a bit weird and frustrating because I didn’t have much to do in the game and conceded three goals.

Barnsley's Adam Davies

Barnsley's Adam Davies

“I was really frustrated after the game and we have to put that behind us on Saturday.

“The lads are definitely still believing and will give everything they have got.

“It will be a tough one and we will probably have to win all of our games, and results are going to have to go our way.

“But until it’s mathematically not possible, I don’t think the lads are going to give up as there’s still belief we can get there.

“Chesterfield are the ones with the pressure on them now and there’s not as much pressure on us as we are the outsiders. They are in sixth position and a bit like when we were there, everyone is now chasing them. You do feel that pressure.”

Footballing life simply could not get much better for Davies during Barnsley’s run of six of the best, which equalled their run of six successive victories achieved by Norman Hunter’s promotion class of 1980-81 – who went up to the old Second Division.

But an abdominal injury arrived at an untimely juncture and forced him to miss the games against Bristol City and Sheffield United, with the latter defeat on Easter Saturday ending the Reds’ superb nine-match unbeaten sequence.

But Davies, who has played 19 games this term, returned as the senior man in goal in place of young loanee Joe Wildsmith at Colchester and while Barnsley still have something tangible to collectively strive for this season, so has he.

Davies made no bones about coming to Oakwell last season ‘not to sit and watch’ and he has enjoyed two strong runs in the side in place of Ross Turnbull.

With the big north-easterner out for the season with a back injury, Davies has the incentive of not only doing his bit to take Barnsley into the play-offs, but also potentially convincing Johnson that he deserves to be his No 1 next season, whatever league the Oakwell outfit reside in.

He said: “I have played 19 games and it’s been the best season of my career so far. My aim is to get the number one spot.

“Hopefully, things will go my way and I will keep playing like I have been and keep the spot.

“I want to prove to people I can be the No 1 permanently.”

Davies is seeking to make up for a spot of lost time with his two-match injury absence arriving at an inopportune moment, although that did not stop him wishing his stand-in Wildsmith all the very best – it is the goalkeepers’ union after all.

He added: “It was horrible getting injured. There’s nothing worse than being in that physiotherapy room and I am happy the gaffer asked me to play on Monday.

“At first, I was a nuisance when I was out. The physio just said ‘you are injured, get your head around it to get back as quick as you can.’

“There wasn’t much pain, just the fact there was a little tear and if I did one bad kick and it tore completely, I could have been out for months.

“I said to the gaffer I was fit to play, but he took it out of my hands. He probably did me a favour as I could have made it a lot worse. But it only took me a few weeks to get back, so I was happy with that.

“Joe did really well in the two games he played and I was a bit worried.

“But it was good for him to get games under his belt and he did really well and it’s good competition for me. I have got to prove myself again.

“I just told him to do what he does normally and don’t worry about the crowd. Us goalkeepers stick together because everyone else hates us! We have to stay as a union.”

Both Davies and Wildsmith found their way up the A61 to Barnsley, largely thanks to Reds goalkeeping coach Mark Crossley’s connections at Sheffield Wednesday and the former admits that he owed him a big debt of thanks for facilitating his path to the club.

His return to fitness will also probably be appreciated by Crossley, whom the Reds were toying with the possibility of re-registering as a player at the ripe old age of 45 due to a mini injury crisis among their goalkeeping department just over a fortnight ago.

Davies added: “I am sure Crossa could have pulled back the years. He’s played in training a few times and you can see he had a bit when he was younger.

“He’s just a bit stiffer than he used to be! I have to thank Crossa for getting me here.

“He is the one who believed in me and everyone at the club has given me the chance to play and I can’t thank them enough.

“I just want to pay them back and perform well.”