Barnsley will come up against an in form Walsall side when they travel to the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Saddlers are currently unbeaten in their last five league games including wins against Chesterfield, Notts County and Fleetwood, as well as respectable draws against both Peterborough and Coventry.
That form leaves the West Midlands outfit sitting one place above Barnsley in 13th in the League One table and following just one defeat in their last nine outings in all competitions as well as reaching the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy regional final on Tuesday night confidence is high in Dean Smith’s squad.
Barnsley however have been struggling for form of late and are without a win in their last four games in both league and cup.
Recent defeats against Chesterfield and Scunthorpe mean the Reds have failed to win in the league since mid-November, with victory against Colchester just the Club’s second success in their last eight league games.
Away from Oakwell the Reds have been inconsistent this season, winning two and losing three of their last five on the road but with the Saddlers set to play their first home fixture in a month on Saturday Wilson’s side will be hoping to end Walsall’s four game unbeaten run at the Banks’s Stadium.
Barnsley will face Walsall for the first time in nearly nine years when they travel to the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In that 2005-06 season the two Clubs met four times in league and cup with the most recent of those ending in delight for the Reds in the West Midlands.
Marc Richards gave Barnsley a first-half lead and despite Dean Keates’ equaliser from the spot Daniel Nardiello dispatched a penalty of his own seven minutes from time to claim a 14th success for the Reds in this fixture.
In the other meetings in that promotion-winning season for the Tykes, goals from Paul Hayes and Brian Howard earned a 2-1 win for Andy Ritchie’s side In League One, while in the FA Cup a 1-1 draw at Oakwell meant a replay in the West Midlands.
On that occasion it was a disappointing journey for the Barnsley faithful with goals from Michael Leary and Kevin James sending the Saddlers through, but despite that Walsall has been a happy hunting ground for the Reds; coming out on top in three of their last five visits there in the league.
Young striker Kane Hemmings will be eager for another opportunity to impress from the off after failing to score against Conference side Chester last Sunday.
With top goal scorer Sam Winnall out of action with a hamstring injury, the Reds are relying on Hemmings, Leroy Lita and on loan duo Devante Cole and Marcello Trotta to find the back of the net.
Another attacking option for boss Wilson is winger Dale Jennings who featured for just over half-an-hour against Chester in what was his first outing in nearly a month.
Walsall were boosted by the return of top goal scorer Tom Bradshaw for Tuesday night’s JP Trophy success against Tranmere and the forward is certain to start from the off as he looks to take his tally for the season into double figures.
Saddlers’ manager Smith will also be hoping to call upon two more of his regular starters once again following injury, with full-back Andy Taylor missing the Tranmere game due to a knock to his knee and midfielder Sam Mantom struggling with a persistent knee problem.
Man in the Middle
Trevor Kettle will make only his fifth appearance of the season when he takes charge of Barnsley’s trip to Walsall on Saturday.
The East Midlands-based official’s last outing came on Saturday as he oversaw Gillingham’s narrow Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory over Leyton Orient.
Kettle is no stranger to the Barnsley supporters; having officiated seven Reds games in the past, the last of which came two years ago as the Tykes defeated Millwall 2-1 at the Den courtesy of a 90th minute winner from Marcus Tudgay.
That success is the only time the Reds have picked up a win under the officiating of Kettle however; losing three and drawing three of the seven matches.
Back in December 2007 the official sent off Barnsley’s Stephen Foster in the Club’s entertaining 3-3 draw at home to Stoke which also saw two penalties awarded at Oakwell.
Their Star Man
Tom Bradshaw arrived at Walsall in the summer with a less than prolific goal scoring record from his time at Shrewsbury, where he notched only 17 times in 98 appearances.
If the Walsall supporters had any doubts about their new signing, they have immediately been quashed following a spectacular start to his Saddlers career, scoring nine times in 16 games.
The first of those strikes came on the former Aberystwyth Town forward’s Walsall debut as he found the back of the net in a 1-1 draw against Port Vale. Bradshaw – who has been capped at both U19 and U21 level for Wales as well as being on the standby list for the senior side this season – also netted in convincing wins against Preston and Doncaster, as well as scoring back-to-back winners against both Chesterfield and Notts County in late October.
Although the Saddlers’ top goal scorer has failed to find his scoring boots in his last two outings, Bradshaw does have four goals to his name in his last five appearances, making him one of the most dangerous forwards in the third tier.
Chris Shuker is a footballer who will always be fondly remembered by the Barnsley faithful following an inspired 2005-06 campaign.
In the Reds’ promotion winning season the winger struck 10 times in 57 appearances including braces against both Oldham and Swindon. The former Everton and Manchester City youth product acclaimed himself even more to the Barnsley fans when he scored in the shootout as the Reds beat Swansea on penalties in the 2006 League One play-off final.
The Liverpool-born midfielder first joined Barnsley in March 2004 after he failed to tie down a regular starting berth at Manchester City. Shuker made nine appearances at the back end of the 2003-04 campaign but quickly stamped down his place in the Reds starting XI in the following campaign; bagging a double during his first home game of the season against Bristol City and going onto play 48 times, scoring eight goals and being named as the Club’s player of the year.
His third season with the Club would end in great joy as the Reds were promoted to the Championship via the play-offs in a season in which the wide man hit double figures.
Despite that, an agreement over a new contract could not be reached at the end of that successful campaign and during the summer of 2006 Shuker departed Oakwell and instead signed for Tranmere Rovers. Following four seasons at Prenton Park the 32-year-old had spells with both Morecambe and Port Vale and after announcing his retirement in May he returned to Tranmere in October to take up a coaching role under his former boss Micky Adams.
Shuker also enjoyed a brief stay in Walsall during his well-travelled career; joining the Saddlers on loan from Manchester City during the 2002-03 campaign at the age of 21. As a youngster trying to make his way in the game, the old first division provided a tough learning curve for Shuker which saw him make five appearances, only one of which ended in a Walsall victory. After his temporary stay at the Banks’s Stadium came to an end, the playmaker also spent time at both Rochdale and Hartlepool prior to his switch to Oakwell.
Going to the match?
How to get there
From the M6: Leave the M6 at junction 9 and follow the A461 towards Walsall. At the traffic lights turn right onto the A4148 (Wallows Lane/Broadway West - sign-posted Banks's Stadium). At the next set of traffic lights (1/3 mile) turn right onto Bescot Crescent, the stadium is 1/4 mile along the road on the left hand side.
From Walsall town centre: From the Arboretum island take the Broadway North exit and follow the Ring Road to the traffic signals by the Fullbrook Pub. At the traffic lights go straight ahead. At the next set of traffic lights by Broadwalk Retail Park turn left, Banks's Stadium is 1/4 mile along the road on the left hand side. We are situated approximately 3.5km south of Walsall Town Centre.
For Sat Navs please use postcode WS1 4SA
A car park is available at Banks's Stadium, the cost is £4 per vehicle. We recommend people wishing to park on the stadium site (Green Zone) arrive well in advance of the match kick-off time.
Parking is not permitted on the nearby retail park for people attending the match. The club ask that supporters are considerate when parking their vehicles, minimising inconvenience to local residents. We encourage supporters to travel to the game by car to share their journey with friends and family to reduce the number of vehicles arriving at the stadium, allowing everyone to have an easier journey home from the ground.
Banks's Stadium is a two-minute walk from Bescot Rail Station. Trains from Walsall take three minutes to the ground and on matchdays all services stop at the Banks's Stadium.
Banks's Stadium is well served by buses. All buses leave from the Bradford Place Bus Station. Service numbers 401E (operated by Diamond) and 45 run every 15 minutes and stop on Bescot Crescent outside the ground (the 45 now runs every hour after 9.00pm). The 4 service runs every eight minutes and stops on West Bromwich Road a short walk from the ground.
Adult - £20.50
Seniors (Over 60s) - £14.50
Juvenile (Under 18) - £14.50
A family ticket consisting of one adult and one under 18 ticket is available from Walsall's ticket office on matchday priced at £24.50.
The official club coaches depart Oakwell at 11am on the day of the game, priced at £17 per seat.
Tickets will remain on sale from the Oakwell Box Office until 4pm on Friday 12th December, 2014.
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