WANDERERS must dare to be different if they are going to survive in the Championship.

A point at Oakwell may have felt slightly unsatisfying for Phil Parkinson’s players, having come so close to all three, yet the manner of their second-half performance has provided a much-needed dose of hope to those on the terraces.

The very antithesis of nervy home defeats against Birmingham City and Millwall, which had dragged the Whites back into the thick of the relegation mix, the adventure shown later on Saturday is exactly what fans have been craving for the last few weeks.

But for Wanderers to continue that momentum against already-promoted Wolves this weekend and beyond, it may first require a bold move from the dugout.

The right battle cries were sounded off the pitch in the last few games but there had been a shortage of evidence to suggest Wanderers could reverse their worrying dip in form. And that was certainly the case in a stagnant first half.

The massed ranks of 2,500 travelling fans left the players, and the manager in little doubt as to the fact the first 45 minutes had not been good enough.

“What I would say to all our supporters in the first half, we didn’t set out to give the ball away,” the manager said. “We didn’t set out to hit aimless balls but sometimes the pressure and the tension of the situation creates that and we said to the lads at half time ‘come on, we’ve got to show the courage to play’ – and we did.”

A turning point may have been the half-time substitution of Will Buckley for Reece Burke. The wide threat was also backed up by Mark Little and Antonee Robinson, both of whom had been used sparingly when the Whites played with a back four.

The results speak for themselves. Possession went up from 45.3 per cent to 51.3 per cent in the second half, while pass success also spiked from 58 per cent to 71.

A more confident Wanderers had 11 shots on goal after half time, compared to four before it. And perhaps the most striking change was the way they used the ball – playing just 24 long passes in the second 45 minutes, compared with 48 in the first.

The manager has taken flak for the perceived ‘long ball’ approach, particularly in the previous two home defeats. There is little disputing that direct style has brought him the majority of his success at Bolton and Bradford, yet without a recognised target man in the team since January he has tried to find an alternate plan of attack, placing extra emphasis on getting the ball to wide men like Sammy Ameobi, Will Buckley, Fil Morais and Craig Noone.

In pressurised circumstances, that supply line has slowed to a trickle. Quality on the ball, particularly from the back into midfield, has been lacking. There has been a general decrease in the number of long balls played by Wanderers but that has not improved the team’s attacking threat, as, to put it bluntly, there has not been enough possession in areas which matter.

Parkinson had mentioned the need for bravery on the ball in the build-up to the game, and in the second half he got it with a big improvement on the number of forward passes played. Buckley, Ameobi and second-half sub Noone also carried the ball more in the last 25 minutes than at any other stage of the game.

Whether that changed against because of a shift in formation, a more positive outlook on the pitch, or tiring hosts, is debatable.

Wanderers will do well to take notes for their trip to Burton a week on Saturday, where a similar type of game is expected. Before that, the visit of Premier League-bound Wolves will be a test of just how effective they can be with the limited amount of possession they can expect.

Parkinson’s quest to find the right balance continues.