Valerien Ismael hails Michal Helik after defender’s goal sets up FA Cup win

Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael saluted centre-back Michal Helik’s attacking threat after the Polish defender’s fourth goal of the season paved the way for a 2-0 FA Cup win over Tranmere.

Helik made the breakthrough just before the hour before Cauley Woodrow’s penalty wrapped up matters in stoppage time of the third round FA Cup tie.

On the 25-year-old defender’s potency, Ismael said: “When the game is so close, you might need an opportunity from a set-piece and they are another good situation for us to use.

“But we have to work hard on scoring goals with the big opportunities we get as well.”

Ismael was referring specifically to a weak first-half Dominik Frieser opportunity that saw the Austrian forward allow George Ray to clear his shot off the line.

Frieser was subsequently replaced at half-time.

Ismael added: “We had to stay patient, but needed to be clinical with our first chance.

“Friesey had a big chance to score and, at half-time, I told the team that we had to stay focussed and be more clinical and ruthless.

“I then thought we controlled the second half and defended well. There was some good box defending and we pressed and forced the mistake at the end to finish the job.

“It was a fight and a tough game. If you look at the results in the cup, there are some big surprises, so I am delighted we are through with a clean sheet.

“It was a great afternoon for us, because (captain) Alex Mowatt came back into the team as well.”

Tranmere manager Keith Hill, meanwhile, questioned the EFL’s protocol to play ties when clubs, such as his team at Oakwell, are missing players following positive Covid-19 tests.

He said: “As a manager and a group of players, you feel exposed and almost thrown to the wolves.

“I also don’t agree with Derby County under-23s having to fulfil a fixture (at Chorley) in the competition, as it does not reflect well on them as a club or the FA.

“A sporting competition has to mean more than just fulfilling fixtures and finding a balance with the new variant of Covid needs to be looked at.

“Having said that, I thought the team we put out with a new back four represented the football club really well.

“All you want from players is 100 per cent commitment and effort because, with that, you can do wonderful things.

“We needed to do better in the first and second phases for their first goal but, overall, it was good to see that collective effort from our players and them all backing each other up.”