Are Newcastle the hardest-working team in the Championship?

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom

It wasn’t Dwight Gayle’s goals that impressed Paul Heckingbottom the most, as good as they were.

Instead, it was Newcastle United’s willingness to work as hard as his Barnsley team at Oakwell that really caught his eye.

I’ve been impressed with the way in which this Newcastle team has proved it’s prepared to dig in and work in order to get a result.

Paul Heckingbottom

In his words, the visitors gave his side “nothing”.

And Gayle’s quality in front of goal made all the difference.

“They gave us absolutely nothing during the game – even though we worked our socks off,” said Barnsley head coach Heckingbottom.

“We went toe to toe with them, even though they’re at the top of the league, and we were grafting and working for everything we could. But they gave us nothing.

“They were having to graft and work as hard as us to get anything, but the two goals were lapses in concentration on our part.

“I’ve been impressed with the way in which this Newcastle team has proved it’s prepared to dig in and work in order to get a result.

“It was a similar story at Rotherham (where Newcastle won 1-0), although I watched that game and, with respect to Rotherham, I thought we had a right go at them, even more than they did.

“They gave us nothing. They matched our effort and endeavour, and ultimately they’ll be over the moon with their result.

“We’re disappointed with the goals we conceded because we would have loved to have given them nothing, like they gave us nothing.”

Heckingbottom knows first-hand how clinical Gayle can be, having faced the striker when he was at non-league Bishop’s Stortford.

“I remember playing against Dwight when he was at Bishop’s Stortford, and he was a hard player to contain,” said Heckingbottom.

“I can’t remember whether I played centre-half or left-back against him, but I can remember he was quiet for most of that game and still ended up scoring two goals too.

“He was good (on Tuesday), but that’s what you pay for isn’t it? His goals. We were prepared for that, so from our point of view, it’s disappointing that two lapses of concentration cost us the game.”