Gareth Ainsworth was left to congratulate an in-form promotion contender for the second week running after seeing his side just fall short against Barnsley on Saturday, and says the visit of Gillingham to Adams Park next weekend represents an opportunity to put things right.
Wanderers worked hard to keep themselves in contention for a result at Oakwell but the second goal – which came shortly after a lengthy stoppage due to an injury to Luke Bolton – left them with too big a hurdle to overcome.
“Luke’s fine, and that’s the most important thing to come out of the day, because it looked a lot worse than it could have been,” said Ainsworth. “I think the momentum of the game changed after that point, because we’d had a really good spell before that and I always believe in us to score and create something, but the second goal is a killer.
“That left us with an uphill battle and it was tough to take, but you have to credit Barnsley. They’re a good side and on the whole they edged it and the result shows that. They’ve had some decent chances on our goal and ours were few and far between, but we gave a real good account of ourselves and I just felt it was sloppy to concede in the way we did.”
Two penalty awards, a flash point leading to Adam El-Abd’s red card and a series of debated free-kick and yellow card decisions drew attention from fans to the performance of first-year EFL referee Matthew Donohue, but Ainsworth refused to point a finger of blame at the man in the middle.
“Luke’s adamant that he got a toe to the ball (for Barnsley’s penalty) and their player has gone over his foot, and I felt we could have had another penalty or two, but the referee has done a good job overall and he’s in a tough position,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to do the job myself. There were a few yellow cards that maybe shouldn’t have been, and that heightens things.”
And so on to Gillingham, a side embroiled like many teams in a relegation battle and Ainsworth says his side need to focus their energies on putting in a strong performance to return to winning ways.
“We want a good reaction against Gillingham, and it’s a game I feel we can win. We don’t want to be looking down the table; we want to build this team, and keep developing it so that we can progress towards something exciting in the future.”