Barnsley v Bristol City
Saturday 25th October, 2014
Danny Wilson’s men host league leaders Bristol City on Saturday afternoon, hoping to become the first side to defeat the Robins this season.
The Bristol-based outfit have not lost a League One game since March and their 1-1 draw against Bradford on Tuesday night set a new Club record for the number of games unbeaten at the beginning of a season.
Having won three of their last five outings, the Robins sit six points clear at the top of the table and with a fine record on the road this term – winning four and drawing three – Barnsley have a tough task ahead.
The Reds will be in determined mood however, as they look to respond following back-to-back defeats against both Peterborough and Notts County this week.
Those setbacks ended a two-match winning streak for Wilson’s side and after letting a 2-0 lead slip on Tuesday evening, the Tykes have now lost three of their last four matches at Oakwell, conceding 11 times in the process.
With the Reds positioned just two points above the relegation zone, a third league win of the season in front of their home crowd would be a timely boost ahead of next weekend’s South Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United.
The 90th meeting between the two Club’s will take place on Saturday afternoon, after a season apart following City’s relegation to League One in May 2013.
In that 2012-13 campaign two very different encounters took place, with the most recent coming in February 2013 at Ashton Gate.
Despite goals from Tomasz Cywka and Jason Scotland in the final 10 minutes, the Reds were powerless to prevent the Robins from netting five of their own as the home side narrowly edged an eight-goal thriller 5-3.
Earlier in the season it was a complete contrast in South Yorkshire, with a solo effort from Jacob Mellis proving enough to earn 10-man Barnsley all three points following the dismissal of Bobby Hassell just two minutes after taking the lead.
That tight contest was a rare occurrence, with some entertaining clashes between the two sides in recent times including a 4-2 triumph for the Reds at Oakwell back in April 2011 with Danny Haynes and Jacob Butterfield amongst the scorers.
Martin Cranie and Conor Hourihane are just one booking away from a suspension which would see them miss next Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United.
With four yellow cards a piece, further punishment this weekend would rule both regulars out of the clash at Bramall Lane, which will be the first time the two Clubs have met in over three years.
Dale Jennings featured for 50 minutes as the reserves drew 1-1 with Swansea on Monday afternoon and the winger will be desperate to return to the first-team fold this weekend after missing the last five matches because of an ankle knock.
Midfielder James Bailey is available for selection once again having sat out the midweek loss against Notts County following his dismissal against Peterborough last Saturday.
Meanwhile, former Barnsley loanee Korey Smith should return for Bristol City this weekend after missing the Club’s last two games with a hamstring strain.
The playmaker joined the Reds on loan from Norwich in January 2012, making 12 appearances and assisting two goals on his debut as the Tykes edged Derby County 3-2.
Further loan spells at Yeovil and Oldham led to a permanent move to the formerly known Boundary Park in June 2013, before the 23-year-old penned a three-year deal at Ashton Gate in the summer.
Man in the Middle
Darren Deadman takes charge of this fixture for a second time, having been the man in the middle for Bristol City’s 2-0 success against the Reds just over two years ago. On that occasion Deadman brandished three yellow cards and awarded the Robins a second half penalty which was dispatched by Jon Stead.
That clash was just one of five Barnsley games which the Cambridgeshire official has taken charge of, with the most recent coming in October 2012 when the Tykes suffered a 1-0 loss against Leeds United at Elland Road courtesy of a Luciano Becchio spot-kick. The experienced official has refereed 11 games so far this season, handing out two red cards and 48 yellows, including eight in Nottingham Forest’s victory against Fulham last month.
Their Star Man
Striker Aaron Wilbraham arrived at Ashton Gate from Crystal Palace in July with a wealth of experience to his name. So far this season the former Stockport, MK Dons and Bradford front man has used all his knowhow to become a huge hit in Bristol, netting eight goals in 15 appearances for the Robins.
The first of those came in an impressive debut, as the 35-year-old scored and then set up the winner as his new side defeated Sheffield United 2-1. A brace on his maiden home start adhered Wilbraham to the Bristol City supporters even more and despite failing to find the back of the net in the Robins’ last six games the forward has played a pivotal part in leading the line for Cotterill’s table-topping side.
Brian Howard is a name that Barnsley supporters – both young and old – will remember for a long time to come following an extremely successful period with the Club which began in the summer of 2005.
The current Oxford United midfielder penned a two-year deal after leaving Swindon Town and went onto spend three years with the Reds making 118 league starts and scoring 27 goals before departing for Sheffield United in October 2008, initially on loan before making the switch permanent three months later.
The 31-year-old also spent a brief part of his career with Saturday’s visitors Bristol City, joining them in February 2013 on a short-term deal from financially-stricken Portsmouth. Howard made just six substitute appearances for the Robins, including a late cameo against Barnsley as City ran out 5-3 winners. After failing to tie down a first-team place the energetic midfielder was released at the end of the 2012-13 campaign following the Club’s relegation to the third tier.
Poignantly Howard made his Barnsley debut in a 3-0 defeat at Ashton Gate but the utility man went on to enjoy an extremely successful first season in South Yorkshire, helping the Reds to promotion as they defeated Swansea on penalties in the League One play-off final at Wembley.
The ex-Southampton trainee hit the winner as Barnsley defeated Leeds United 3-2 in their first season back in the Championship but it was in Howard’s third and final campaign that he really flourished, notching 14 times, being appointed captain and scoring that famous winner as the Reds knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup at Anfield.
Further impressive displays against Chelsea and Cardiff made it a season to remember for Howard.