EFL pundit Dean Ashton has suggested that the pressure got to Barnsley’s players during their play-off semi-final first leg defeat against Swansea City, and he bemoaned the quality on show in the match.
Swansea managed to take a crucial advantage with them back to the Liberty Stadium for the second leg, with Steve Cooper’s side delivering a very solid performance and also finding the game’s one moment of real quality. Andre Ayew outlined his class and experience by producing an excellent curling finish into the bottom corner to fire in the only goal of the game at Oakwell.
For Barnsley, it was a disappointing first-half performance where they were not able to stamp their authority on the match as they normally do. The Tykes, thanks largely down to the introduction of Carlton Morris at the break, were improved in the second period and did carve out one or two good chances to put the tie back on level terms. However, ultimately they did not do enough.
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Speaking to EFL on Quest, Ashton bemoaned the lack of quality and composure that was on show for most of the game. While he also believes that the pressure of the occasion and playing in front of an expectant crowd might have got to Barnsley.
He said: “Every ball felt like a clearance tonight, the fans and the pressure in the stadium got to the Barnsley tonight.
“There was plenty of effort from Barnsley tonight, but just lacked quality.”
Ashton is right that the game felt as though it was devoid of many moments of real quality, especially in the first half barring Ayew’s winning goal. The Tykes were at times just hitting the ball forwards in hope rather than in expectation, and Swansea’s defenders managed to read that very well and dealt with Daryl Dike as he attempted to impose himself on the match.
You can understand why Barnsley’s players might have been a little overawed by the occasion, with most players in their side very inexperienced and having not been involved in a game of such importance as of yet in their careers. Swansea had the experience of players like Ayew to call upon and also were in the play-offs last term as well.
Barnsley will have to deliver a performance more like they did in the second half of the first leg for the entire game at the Liberty Stadium. If they can do that and show a little more composure at times then they will still have a good chance of pulling the tie back around. However, they will be the underdogs now for sure heading into the game at Swansea.