LEE JOHNSON admitted that Barnsley’s players were left disappointed after being pegged back by a Joe Bryan goal in a 2-2 draw at League One leaders Bristol City - but feels that is big marker of the Reds’ recent upturn.
A fine strike from Josh Scowen on 53 minutes looked like providing Barnsley’s first win in 22 years at Ashton Gate, against a side who had won 14 home league matches this term and who were flushed by last weekend’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success at Wembley.
But Bryan levelled for the Robins, who had taken a lead through an early Marlon Pack penalty, only for that goal to be cancelled out by a leveller from Jabo Ibehre on 44 minutes.
Johnson, whose side are now nine matches unbeaten and are yet to lose under his tenure, said: “Of course it’s always disappointing to lose a lead.
“I wouldn’t say I’m fully content. But to come to the league leaders in a carnival atmosphere, if you like, and come out with a point - we looked fairly solid for most of the game - it’s a good start.
“The results went for us in the division and that means we can kick on for the remaining games.
“It’s not about messages, it’s about us maintaining that desire to give the fans a run for their money.
“The players are disappointed, and that’s a good side. We’ve come from nowhere. If you fail, you may as well fail bold. That doesn’t mean we are going to fail, it means I don’t want fear or mediocrity.”
After their JPT win, Steve Cotterill’s men were full of confidence and not exactly in need of a helping hand from Barnsley.
The Reds, though, gave the runaway leaders one anyway courtesy of a clumsy challenge by Jean-Yves Mvoto on Kieran Agard in the 11th minute that gave referee Mark Brown no option but to point to the spot.
Pack then did the rest from 12 yards to put the hosts ahead, It looked like being the only goal of the first half but Barnsley, sporting six changes from the side that had played so well at home to Preston North End a week earlier, hit back on 44 minutes.
Ibehre, showing tremendous strength to hold off two Robins defender, fired in with a shot that Luke Ayling was unable to keep out on the line.
It was no more than the visitors deserved with Ibehre having earlier headed over from a Josh Scowen cross and also bringing a save from Frank Fielding.
Clearly buoyed to have pegged back the hosts, Barnsley started strongly after the restart and Fielding had to twice claw a Ben Pearson corner to safety from under his own crossbar.
Then, on 53 minutes, came a quite brilliant passage of play that saw the Reds take the lead.
A punt forward from M’Voto took some controlling by Ibehre but the striker made it look easy before, in a nod to Gazza in Euro 96, flicking the ball over his marker.
The loanee from Colchester United then rolled a pass in for Scowen, who skipped past Fielding before firing into the roof of the net.
Bristol City’s response was to force a chance for Agard but he fired over and it was the visitors who continued to look the most likely to grab the game’s fourth goal.
Scowen volleyed over before Stewart shot wide but then the Robins finally rallied in the closing stages.
Wildsmith had two make two excellent saves to deny Bryan but then the equaliser came six minutes from time.
Bryan got the all-important strike from 15 yards to finally break Wildsmith’s resistance.
City almost snatched a stoppage time winner but Aden Flint headed over to ensure Barnsley returned home with deserved reward.