Barnsley manager Gerhard Struber is looking forward to a “bonus game” at Stamford Bridge after his side set up a Carabao Cup third-round trip to Chelsea following a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough.
First-half goals from Patrick Schmidt and Jordan Williams enabled the Tykes to triumph at the Riverside, and dampen the disappointment of a home defeat to Luton on the opening weekend of the Sky Bet Championship.
Their reward for their efforts is a trip to London to take on Premier League big guns Chelsea next week and – while Struber insists his immediate priority is this weekend’s league game against Reading – the Barnsley boss is looking forward to locking horns with Frank Lampard’s side.
Struber said: “It’s a bonus game for us. We have Reading first, and that is a very important game for everyone.
“But after that, we can focus on having a match against Chelsea. We have to work professionally before that because Reading are in very good shape. But once we have played that game, we can look forward to going to Chelsea.”
Struber felt his side fully deserved their victory over Middlesbrough and was delighted to see some of his fringe players come in to stake a claim for an extended run in the team.
The Barnsley manager made five changes from the side that started against Luton and his players had the upper hand from the off.
He said: “I think it was a good performance, especially in the first half. We played on the ball with good control and always had a good solution to things.
“The set-up was very good and we had a good handling of the aggression of Middlesbrough.
“The second half was a fight – a set-piece fight, a free-kick fight – and my boys showed me they are ready against a good, physical team.
“They handled the long balls very well and had a good structure for the second balls too. I thought we deserved the win.”
With Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock watching on from the stands, first-team coach Ronnie Jepson ran things from the technical area alongside Kevin Blackwell and was not too disheartened by his players’ efforts.
Jepson said: “Quite a few players were playing together for the first time so it was a good opportunity for our gaffer to see the lads and try and get one or two up to speed.
“Sam Morsy came in and he’s only played 70 minutes in the last couple of weeks so it was good to get him in.
“Overall, it was positive and I thought in the second half we grew into it a little bit and got on the front foot. The main aim was to give people minutes and give everyone a chance.”