JOSH Earl believes Barnsley can profit from going into the second leg of the play-offs without the weight of high expectation.

Trailing 3-1 after the first game at Oakwell, the managerless Tykes have work on their hands if they are to salvage their hopes of Championship football next season.

The one-time Wanderers loanee felt defeat on Friday night was largely self-inflicted, describing the three Bolton goals as “rubbish”.

Despite the odds stacked against a comeback, the defender remains optimistic that all is not lost.

He told The Barnsley Chronicle: “They beat us by two goals. Who is to say we can’t beat them by two goals on Tuesday? We just have to rest and recover, train on Sunday, put work in and figure out how we’re going to do it.

“The pressure is off us in a sense. We can thrive off that. As soon as you get one back, you never know what can happen.

"We know we can score two goals, no problems.”

Wanderers sacrificed possession for large spells of the first game, winning a game with just 41 per cent of the ball – their lowest total all season.

The Whites did register more shots on goal and had more touches inside the penalty box than their hosts, however, as their gameplan ultimately proved successful.

Earl felt Barnsley were to blame for their own downfall.

“It was poor defending from everyone involved,” he said. “We can’t keep giving away goals like that. It looked like a foul on Robbo (goalkeeper Liam Roberts) but it’s a rubbish goal.

“All three were quite poor. It was a good bit of play for the first goal but we’re down to ten men and should have just stuck together as a team. It’s mistakes we make in the split seconds. You can’t do that in high level matches like this.

“We can be encouraged by the whole performance apart from the three goals.

“We played well, went long when we had to, fought for first and second balls, defended really well for most of the game and played good football towards the end.”

Barnsley’s late-season form dipped to the point that the club sacked manager Neil Collins on the penultimate weekend, putting Martin Devaney in temporary charge.

Reports of missed managerial targets have circulated over the past week but with the club winless in seven, Earl admits something drastic has got to happen at the Toughsheet for the Tykes to recover the situation.

“They haven’t been the results we wanted and we know we haven’t performed unbelievably,” he said. “Unfortunately that’s just football at times. Everyone has made mistakes that have led to goals. We’ve been unfortunate as well. Sometimes football just doesn’t go your way and a lot of the goals have been unlucky.”

The former Preston man insists, however, that the lack of a permanent manager has not been a major factor in under-performance.

“It’s not affected us,” he added. “At the time it was a bit of a shock but it’s our job to go out and play football.”