Barnsley close in on SkyBet Championship playoffs but safety remains Valerien Ismael’s priority

Valerien Ismael was keeping his feet firmly on the ground after Barnsley’s third successive win put them within four points of the Championship play-off places.

Winner: Barnsley's Carlton Morris celebrates scoring the only goal.

Far from wanting to discuss promotion prospects, Ismael hailed the 67th-minute winner from Carlton Morris in the 1-0 victory at Bristol City as a step nearer safety.

Substitute Morris netted his third goal in as many games from close range after Alex Mowatt’s corner from the left had led to a desperate scramble in City’s six-yard box.

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It was no more than Barnsley deserved from a dominant display against managerless opponents who have lost their last seven matches in all competitions.

Ismael said: “We are now five points off reaching 50 and that remains the first target for us.

“I do not want to dream of anything more at this stage because there are a lot of games still to play.

“I don’t look beyond the next match and that is a very tough one against Stoke City.

“Today we dominated the first half. Michal Helik should have scored and Daryl Dike was also not far away.

“We should have been ahead at half-time. But we kept to our game-plan and the goal came.

“Our substitutes made an impact and Carlton scored for us again. Of course, he wants a starting place, but the important thing is that we have selection options in a lot of positions.

“We knew we were playing a team short on confidence and that they would try to regain some with long balls forward.

“The players dealt with that really well. It is three points and a clean sheet, so I am very happy.

“The team spirit in the dressing room is excellent and that is showing in our performances.

“Hopefully we can continue to move forward, but it is important we stay focused because the Championship is such a tough league.”

City managed just one shot on target in the entire game, a long-range effort from Famara Diedhiou in the first half.

Assistant head coaches Paul Simpson and Keith Downing, placed in caretaker charge following Dean Holden’s sacking on Tuesday night, could do nothing to prevent another loss.

Bristol City: Bentley, Mariappa, Kalas, Moore, Hunt; Vyner (Paterson 69), Lansbury (Bakinson 58), Palmer; Sessegnon (Nagy 76), Semenyo (Wells 69), Diedhiou. Unused substitutes: O’Leary, Pearson, Bell, Towler, Massengo.

Barnsley: Collins, Sollbauer (Sibbick 75), Helik, Andersen; Brittain, Palmer, Mowatt, Styles (Jordan Williams 57); Chaplin (Morris 57), Dike (Frieser 82), Woodrow (Adeboyejo 57). Unused substitutes: Walton, Kane, Oduor, Halme.

Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).

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