After making a significant impact for Barnsley at Derby County on Thursday night, Elliot Simoes hopes that his promising performance will prove the catalyst for his Tykes career.
The Portugese was introduced as a first-half substitute and instantly provided the Reds with more attacking threat after a sluggish first half hour.
It was only the 20-year-old’s third appearance in a Barnsley shirt, having joined the club last January from non-league side, FC United of Manchester.
Simoes was one of the Reds’ stand-out players as they were beaten 2-1 at Pride Park.
He had been handed only 20 minutes of game time prior to his introduction in the East Midlands, coming off the bench in the Tykes’ draws with Swansea City and Bristol City.
“I hope it’s the first of many opportunities, every game is a new opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve been at the club a little while but, as a footballer, you have to be patient and wait for your opportunity.
“The standard is very, very different, the Championship is a high level. It’s one of the best leagues. It’s a big thing for me.
“It’s a big step up for me but this is where I want to play, if not higher, so I want to make sure I’m sharp every single game.”
Barnsley had gone on a five-game unbeaten run prior to Thursday night’s defeat but Simoes feels the momentum is still with the Reds as they seek a return to winning ways at Crewe Alexandra tomorrow.
The Tykes haven’t got past the third round of the FA Cup since 2013, when they reached the quarter finals before being knocked out by Manchester City.
“We’re getting a lot of momentum, over the last six games especially. We haven’t been losing but unfortunately we did at Derby,” Simoes continued.
“Now is the start of something. As you can see in the last six games we were able to pull some good results. Unfortunately we lost today but I think we can come back in the next game and just keep going.”
Barnsley manager Gerhard Struber feels that Simoes’ hour-long cameo in Derby provided enough evidence to suggest that the youngster deserves a regular place in the first-team squad. The 20-year-old has been in the match-day 17 only eight times this campaign but feels he is improving under Struber.
He said: “The environment is good. He [Struber] makes sure to speak to me and give me a lot of confidence in training and, since he’s joined, I always feel like I will come on the pitch.
“He gives me that boost, the confidence I need.
Simoes poked home in the 50th minute for Barnsley, scoring his first senior goal after Derby goalkeeper Ben Hamer had failed to gather Conor Chaplin’s shot.
The forward was finding plenty of joy in and around the Derby penalty area prior to the equaliser, causing the Rams numerous problems in the latter stages of the first half.
He was constantly looking to progress the Reds forward when receiving the ball into feet and could prove an ample understudy to Cauley Woodrow, who is expected to miss the next three weeks of action with a hamstring strain.
Simoes added: “I felt good first of all, having not played a full game for a while.
“It felt good coming off the bench. I’m really disappointed of course with the result, the end result was not what we expected, but obviously it was nice get my first goal. It’s a long season to go, a lot of games, so we need to get going to get as many points as we can so we can stay up in the league.
“It’s very rare for that [early sub] to happen but I’m always ready to come on every single game. I wasn’t expecting it to come that early, but once I got the call up I was ready.
“In the first minutes I try to act like I’m comfortable, but you always get a bit nervous coming on. Once I started to get a few touches of the ball I started to feel more comfortable.”
Much of the talk prior to kick off was dominated by the debut of Wayne Rooney but Simoes was the one who almost stole the headlines with his equaliser.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” said Simoes of his goal.
“Especially for a player like me who was playing in non-league last year, and now I’m scoring in the Championship. Of course it’s a big thing.”
Last six games: Crewe WWLWDW; Barnsley LDDWWD.
Referee: James Linington (Newport).
Last time: Crewe 1 Barnsley 2, February 27, 2016; League One.