Cauley Woodrow bullish over Barnsley's top-two ambitions

BARNSLEY entered the game against League One leaders Portsmouth positioned outside the play-off places, but finished it confident that they could still make the top two this season.

Predatory instinct: Cauley Woodrow wheels away in celebration after scoring his sixth goal for Barnsley in just eight league and cup appearances. (Picture: Simon Hulme)

Supporters, however, will trust that head coach Daniel Stendel is not being complacent as the January transfer window looms into view.

The German believes the Reds already have a squad capable of maintaining a promotion push if they continue to play like they did against Pompey.

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However, although they kept their unbeaten home record intact the feeling was that this draw was two points dropped after Barnsley had fallen out of the top six by virtue of Doncaster Rovers’ derby victory over Scunthorpe in the early kick-off.

Icy rain failed to dampen either side’s spirits, but Barnsley created by far the better chances in the first half without beating Craig MacGillivray.

They were made to pay when a blunder of a defensive clearance by Alex Mowatt allowed Pompey captain Gareth Evans to drill the ball inside Adam Davies’s left-hand post shortly before the break.

It was not only part of the floodlights that had blown a fuse and a lesser side than Barnsley could have trooped off feeling sorry for themselves.

One player not given the chance to atone was right-back Dimitri Cavare, returning from suspension, whose place at the break was taken by striker-turned-defender Jacob Brown.

Cauley Woodrow scores his equalising goal against Portsmouth. (Picture: Simon Hulme)

Barnsley went about repairing the damage and the equaliser came in the 62nd minute when Cauley Woodrow slid in to convert Brad Potts’s cross from the right at the near post.

Woodrow has certainly helped Barnsley offset the loss of striker Tom Bradshaw shortly before the summer transfer window closed even though he is still making up for lost time.

The Fulham loanee signed on deadline day, but muscle injuries delayed his debut until November, since when he has scored six goals in six league and two FA Cup appearances.

Emerging with an ice pack strapped to his troublesome right calf, Woodrow was in bullish mood.

Cauley Woodrow celebrates

“Of course we can still get into the top two by the end of the season,” said the 24-year-old.

“In a season before I came here Barnsley were at the bottom of the league just before Christmas and managed to go up through the play-offs, so it shows that if you get a run going with some good performances you can climb up the table.

“There are not that many points in it and if we can keep producing performances like [Saturday] then I am sure we will be winning games and will be up there at the end of the season.

“On paper, Portsmouth are the best team we have played, but I think we struggled more against Wycombe (in a 1-0 defeat the previous week). Portsmouth are a good team who we have managed to nullify and not let play.

“We were poor last week so we bounced back against a team who are top of the league. We battered them overall and we looked like the team who were the top of the league and that will give us confidence and belief that we can get some good results.”

Of his own form, Woodrow said: “It is always nice to score, but more especially after having had a couple of chances in the first half. The ’keeper made good saves, but I am just happy to be getting the chances because if I do I like to think that I will score goals.

“I am pleased to be amongst them as I am still finding my fitness. That was only my 10th appearance so I am a bit behind the other lads in terms of game time, but I am happy to be scoring and getting my fitness back.

“I hope to get into double figures, but I’m not going to say exactly how many because I don’t want to jinx anything.”

Woodrow was not the only one to be denied by McGillivray in the first period – George Moncur and Cameron McGeehan also being thwarted – but despite their failure to convert by getting their shots too close to the goalkeeper, Stendel too remained optimistic.

He had made four changes after the Wycombe defeat – Cavare, Adam Jackson, Brad Potts and Daniel Pinillos coming back in – while Pompey chief Kenny Jackett stuck by the same players who had lost at home to Charlton Athletic in midweek and it was the Reds’ shake-up that had the biggest effect even though the visitors were always a threat on the break.

Stendel said: “The performance and our plan against Portsmouth was good for most of the time.

“Only the result was not what we wanted. I think we deserved to win this game and I am not satisfied with only one point.”

Barnsley remain 12 points behind Pompey and eight adrift of second-placed Luton, but the seventh-placed club have a game in hand on both.

Stendel added: “It is not the best that we are not in the top six in the table, but if we can only play with the same attitude and passion like we did I think sure we will be back in the top six.

“We have good players and a good squad and if we put on similar performances to [Saturday] then we have every chance.

Barnsley: Davies, Cavare (Brown 46), Jackson, Pinnock, Pinillos; Potts (Thiam 80), McGeehan, Mowatt, Moncur (Isgrove 63); Moore, Woodrow. Unused substitues: Greatorex, Lindsay, Bahre, Adebboyejo.

Portsmouth: MacGillivray, N Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, B Thompson; Lowe, Evans, Curtis (Walkes 75); Hawkins. Unused substitutes: Bass, Burgess, Pitman, Donohue, Close, Green.

Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire).