JOSH SCOWEN is the first to admit that he was not envisaging swapping one promotion crusade for another when he left Wycombe Wanderers for Barnsley in mid-January.
The delicious quirks of football are such that the Londoner may be cracking open the bubbly after all at the end of Spring and not merely ringing up his former Chairboys team-mates with messages of congratulations either.
The workaholic midfielder has been an integral cog of the Reds’ headturning past month, which has seen them metamorphose from League One relegation candidates to play-off contenders in the space of four bewildering, but captivating weeks.
The Reds will be backed by a sizeable travelling army at Oldham Athletic today, having been allocated the entire 3,000-strong Rochdale Road end – as they chase a sixth straight league win which could potentially propel them into the top six of League One.
It’s a far cry from the Valentine’s Day massacre at Crawley a month ago today when a few hundred visiting supporters witnessed a humiliating 5-1 reverse, which left Barnsley four points above the drop zone in 19th spot.
That was the buffer the Reds were afforded above the relegation positions when Scowen arrived on January 15 from Wycombe, who were leading League Two at the time of his exit.
The third-tier table looks far rosier for seventh-placed Barnsley this morning and small wonder diminutive grafter Scowen alludes to confidence being sky-high.
Scowen, who joined the Reds for a six-figure fee, said: “When I first came I didn’t expect this from where we were in the league.
“But it is nice to be there now and we can hopefully carry on pushing up the league.
“That’s football. Things can change and within three weeks, we have gone from near the relegation zone to almost in the play-offs.
“Hopefully, we can carry on doing what we have been.
“If we can keep on our run, we will be in with a shout come the end of the season.
“It has been very good and since I have come into the side, I feel like I have done well and winning five on the bounce can only make things better. I’ve done alright.
“It’s just confidence really. Crawley wasn’t nice, but we managed to pick up the win in the following game and from then, our confidence has just grown and grown.
“You can see that with players like George Waring, who has now got four goals in his last four games and hopefully he can keep on scoring the goals and winning the games for us.
“It is always nice to have a goalscorer up top as they are the ones who will more or less win the games for you.
“Defensively, we have cut out the little mistakes and that’s really good. We have held strong and worked as a unit as a whole team.
“Everyone wants to get promoted and we will keep driving as much as we can to push in and get into the play-offs and hope that we stay there.
“If we keep winning games, our confidence is only going to get better and better.”
Having worked with the man who bought him to Barnsley in Danny Wilson for just four weeks before he parted company with the Reds, Scowen would have been forgiven for thinking just where he stood when Lee Johnson joined the club on February 25.
He need not have worried with the Reds head coach having kept him in the side and in the loop and provided firm reassurance to him and his team-mates that his door is always open for a chat if needs be.
Not that Scowen has had to bother, with a testing start to his Reds career having got a whole load better and he is endearing himself to Barnsley supporters by the week with his combative displays and he is currently one of the first names on the team-sheet.
He said: “At first, I wasn’t sure what would happen and whether I’d still be playing or not.
“But the gaffer kept me in the side and I think I’ve done well and hopefully I can carry on showing him what I can do and stay in the side.
“He (Johnson) is always out of the training ground and taking sessions and talking to players individually or as a group.
“It is always nice because he said that if we need to go and talk to him, his door is always open to anyone that needs to go and talk to him.
“That can only make the boys feel better about themselves as they know if they need to talk to him, they can.
“A lot of it is down to confidence and he has made us believe in ourselves and he tries to make us not worry about the opposition too much and make us play the way we can.
“Everyone is training with a smile on their face and the tempo has obviously gone up after winning the five in a row.”
Johnson says making it six wins will provide the sternest examination of his tenure so far at former club Oldham this afternoon, just two-and-a-half weeks since he crossed the Roses divide.
The Reds head coach does not need to be told twice that the Latics will be hell-bent on ensuring his return to Boundary Park is a chastening one,.
Although Scowen, like his gaffer, believes the visitors will have an advantage when they stride out onto the pitch today.
Given the fact that the meticulous Johnson knows everything about his ex-Oldham charges chapter and verse after almost two years working with them, knowledge will be power according to Scowen.
He said: “It always interesting going back to old clubs. Hopefully, we can go there and win the game for him.
“Old players want to always get one over their old boss. But I think the gaffer wants to get one over on his old team and I think we will have the advantage because he knows their players very well after being there a few years.”