Defensive improvement the next step for free-scoring Barnsley FC, insists Cauley Woodrow

Treble star: Barnsley's Conor Chaplin celebrates his hat-trick. Picture: Dean Atkins
Treble star: Barnsley's Conor Chaplin celebrates his hat-trick. Picture: Dean Atkins
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Despite sitting at the bottom of the Championship table, Barnsley have found the net more times this season than 11 of their league rivals.

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But it is the goals against column that makes worrying reading for the Reds.

Gerhard Struber’s side have conceded 45 times in 22 games this term, only fellow strugglers Luton Town, on 46, have a worse record.

However, there was little time for negativity on Saturday afternoon as Barnsley revelled in their second win under Struber.

The Tykes never looked like losing their crunch encounter with QPR and led for over 75 minutes against a team who had boasted one of the best winning records away from home.

Barnsley have fixtures against Millwall, West Bromwich, Swansea City and Derby County over the festive period and if they are to maintain the momentum gained from their victory over the Rs, they must fix their defensive frailties.

It is a fact that top-scorer Cauley Woodrow is all too aware of.

“On another day we would have lost if we weren’t so clinical,” he admitted.

“But we will enjoy this moment now and move onto next week.”

Woodrow claimed Barnsley’s fourth goal on Saturday, from the penalty spot, and continued: “Throughout the season, scoring has not been the problem – it has been the conceding.

“That is not just the defenders’ fault, it is on us as a team.

“We concede from set plays, we concede from all different sorts of scenarios but here it was so important for us to get a win, especially going into the Christmas period.

“There are so many games coming up and, hopefully, we can get a bit of form going into that.”

Woodrow was deployed in an attacking midfield role, behind hat-trick hero Conor Chaplin and Jacob Brown, who provided the assists for Barnsley’s first and fifth goals.

The 25-year-old Woodrow is enjoying playing at the tip of the Tykes’ midfield diamond.

“It has been good, it is a little bit different,” he said.

“I played in that position in the academy but since I turned professional I have played up front more.

“But I think it suits me, I like getting the ball into my feet.

“The manager has obviously seen that in me and has put me there and I think it’s worked quite well.

“At times, he likes to put me up front if we change our shape but I enjoy playing the position he is putting me in.”

Barnsley had won just one of their opening 17 league games but have already bettered that record in recent times with two victories in their last five outings.

The gap between the Reds and Luton in 21st has now been cut to four points.

“A lot of the teams started off on a flyer but are dropping off,” added Woodrow.

“We are picking up a little bit now and we can catch the teams above us.”

With the January transfer window just around the corner, Woodrow, who has nine goals for Barnsley this campaign, insists his focus is firmly fixed on helping the Reds out of the relegation zone rather than any move.

He said: “January is not even here yet and we are all doing well so there might be interest.

“But my main focus is helping this team get out of the position we are in at the moment.

“I am enjoying playing here and I am playing most weeks and that is the main thing for me.

“The main thing for any player is playing consistently and enjoying your football.

“All I can see myself in at the moment is in a Barnsley shirt.”

Woodrow feels that Struber’s influence has been the key behind Barnsley’s improvement in performances and results.

Chaplin scored twice in the first half to give the hosts a 2-1 interval lead, with Ben Amos replying for QPR.

The Tykes’ scorer completed his hat-trick early in the second half, drilling the ball through a host of defenders on 51 minutes.

Amos hammered the ball into the top corner from a rebound to keep the hosts in check but the game’s decisive moment came just before the hour.

Woodrow got past Geoff Cameron before the Rs defender brought him down inside the area and the number five was lucky to escape without a card.

Woodrow fired the ball to the goalkeeper’s right and Bambo Diaby converted Brown’s cross late on after Barnsley had caught QPR unaware from a free-kick on the right-hand side.

Substitute Ilias Chair scored a consolation in the fourth minute of stoppage-time but it did little to dampen the mood inside Oakwell.

“I think the manager has come in and given us confidence and a way of playing,” said Woodrow.

“Conor is a really bright player, he is nippy.

“He is not the tallest of players but he gets into areas people don’t expect him to get into.

“He is really clever with his movement and that is a credit to the way he plays.

“He is a good finisher, we see it every day in training so I am not surprised that he is scoring goals.”

Bansley: Radlinger; Williams, Diaby, Andersen, Oduor (McGeehan 83); Dougall, Bahre (Thomas 31), Mowatt, Woodrow; Brown, Chaplin. Unused substitutes: Collins, Sibbick, Thiam, Mottley-Henry, Marsh.

Queens Park Rangers: Lumley; Manning, Wallace (Wells 56), Leistner, Hall, Kane; Eze, Cameron (Chair 67), Amos; Hugill, Osayi-Samuel. Unused substitutes: Barnes, Smith, Pugh, Ball, Mlakar, Wells.

Referee: K Stroud.