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Match Previews

Barnsley v Walsall: Match Preview

5 March 2015

The Reds will aim to continue their excellent run of form when they host Walsall at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday night’s home triumph against Coventry was both the Club’s fourth win and fourth clean sheet in a row which has seen them climb up to 10th place in League One and just two points outside the play-offs.

New Head Coach Lee Johnson has overseen two of the Club’s recent victories; with Tuesday’s success against the Sky Blues earning Barnsley a sixth win in their last seven Oakwell outings.

In complete contrast, Saturday’s visitors Walsall have been struggling for form of late but the Saddlers did end their four match winless run with a 1-0 win at Yeovil on Tuesday night.

Three defeats and a draw had seen Dean Smith’s side slump towards the bottom of the table but a solo strike from on-loan forward Jordan Hiwula against the Glovers leaves them 16th and three points behind the Reds.

Following that victory the Saddlers will now be keen to rediscover some of their early season form which saw them win eight out of 15 games going into February, while the Reds will need to be well aware of Walsall’s away form; with the West Midlands-based Club winning six of their last 10 league matches on the road.

Previous Meetings

Barnsley will be looking to draw level on wins in this fixture when they host Dean Smith’s side at Oakwell this weekend.

The Reds have recorded 14 victories, while the Saddlers have 15 triumphs in the 42 clashes between the two Clubs; with the most recent of those coming in mid-December.

In the first meeting between the two sides since the 2005-06 season, a brace from Jordan Cook and one from star man Tom Bradshaw earned a 3-1 success for the Saddlers, who had fallen behind early on to Lewin Nyatanga’s opener.

Barnsley’s previous trip to the Banks’s Stadium came back in May 2006 and it was a much more enjoyable afternoon for the Reds, after Daniel Nardiello’s 83rd minute penalty secured a 2-1 success for the Club.
In the Oakwell league meeting between the sides, the Reds also came out on top with Paul Hayes and Brian Howard bagging for the home side but in the FA Cup that season, the Clubs played out a 1-1 draw in South Yorkshire before the Saddlers won the replay 2-0. 

Team News

Lee Johnson could be tempted to name an unchanged XI for the third game in a row when the Saddlers travel to South Yorkshire.

The Reds have fielded the same side for both of Johnson’s games at the helm and with forward Sam Winnall not fit enough to start; it could be the case of same again.

Striker Winnall – who last started for the Club back in late November – was introduced as an 89th minute substitute against Coventry on Tuesday but with George Waring netting two in his last two games, the on-loan Stoke City man should get the nod once again.

Dale Jennings returned to the substitute’s bench against the Sky Blues after recovering from illness and could play some part at Oakwell on Saturday, while teenager Mason Holgate looks set to continue in defence after further fine performances.

For Walsall, defender Paul Downing returned from a thigh injury on Tuesday night and played the full 90 minutes as the Saddlers defeated Yeovil 1-0 at Huish Park.

Midfield pair Sam Mantom and Anthony Forde - who have suffered with knee and groin problems respectively in recent weeks - did not feature in that victory but could be set for a return at Oakwell.

Man in the Middle

Controversial referee Stuart Attwell will be the man in the middle for Barnsley’s home clash with Walsall on Saturday afternoon. The official – who came to prominence when he awarded Reading a “ghost goal” against Watford despite the ball going four yards wide of the net – will be assisted by fourth official Ken Haycock as well as linesmen Paul Cook and Akil Howson at Oakwell. The game will not be Attwell’s first visit to the Club, with the Premier League referee overseeing three Barnsley games in the past. Unfortunately for the Reds, he has been an unlucky omen, with the Club suffering a 2-1 home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday in December 2012, a 4-2 reverse against Swansea in January 2012, as well as a 3-1 loss against Hull City at Oakwell all the way back in April 2008.

Attwell – who became the youngest top flight official in 2008 at the age of 25 despite only arriving on the Football League scene in 2007 – has been in charge of 28 games this season; handing out 70 yellow cards and three reds. The first of those dismissals came on the opening day of the season as Scunthorpe’s Marcus Williams was given his marching orders following an altercation with Swindon captain Nathan Thompson, while Attwell also brandished red to Gary Jones in November after the Notts County midfielder was deemed to have committed a two-footed challenge. The Warwickshire-based referee’s most recent red card came on Boxing Day when he sent Sheffield United’s Chris Basham for an early bath after the defender committed a professional foul in the Blades’ 2-1 defeat at Port Vale, while Saturday’s official Attwell has taken charge of just one Premier League game this time out, as he ran the rule over West Brom’s narrow 1-0 success at Leicester.

Their Star Man

The Barnsley defence will have to be on their toes this weekend when they come face-to-face with one of League One’s best strikers. Welsh youth international Tom Bradshaw has netted 15 times in 28 appearances so far this season including one against the Reds back in December as the Saddlers ran out 3-1 winners at the Banks’s Stadium.

Despite only scoring five goals in 11 games since that clash, Bradshaw – who has also failed to register in his last six appearances - remains a dangerous threat for Saturday’s visitors, with the former Shrewsbury man bagging his first of the season on the opening day of the campaign against Port Vale. Although the goals failed to flow after that, the forward netted 13 times in 16 games between September and January as the Saddlers flirted with the League One play-off places. 

Two of the 22-year-old’s strikes came against hometown and former Club Shrewsbury including a 90th minute equaliser, while the forward also hit the back of the net as the Saddlers beat Preston 2-0 on aggregate in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area final which booked Walsall a visit to Wembley for the first time in their 127-year history. That goal was Bradshaw’s most recent in Walsall colours but after missing out on several games during February because of a hamstring strain, the striker returned at the weekend and also missed a penalty on Tuesday night as the Saddlers edged past Yeovil in Somerset. 

Mutual Man

Powerful winger Kevin Betsy may be plying his trade in the Vanarama Conference with hometown Club Woking, but 14 years ago the 36-year-old was a Premier League player with Fulham. Signed from Woking in September 1998 by Kevin Keegan, the midfielder made his top flight bow at Old Trafford but after failing to earn a regular starting berth by the Thames, Betsy joined Barnsley on loan in March 2002 after similar spells at both Bournemouth and Hull.

Betsy – who turns 37 later this month – made his Reds debut in a 1-1 draw against Millwall at Oakwell and made another four appearances before his move to South Yorkshire was made permanent at the end of the month. Unfortunately for the Seychelles international, the Reds suffered relegation to the old division two as the 2001-02 campaign ended in huge disappointment. With the Club eager to bounce straight back, Betsy featured 42 times in the following season and scored six goals, including a brace against Brentford as the Reds finished 19th. 

In his second full campaign with the Club, the Woking man enjoyed his best year with the Reds; scoring 11 goals from midfield and making 53 appearances in the red of Barnsley as they enjoyed a much improved season in 12th. Despite bagging in wins against the likes of Brighton, Peterborough Rushden, the midfielder opted to move on during the summer of 2004; completing a deal to join League One rivals Hartlepool. Two months later however and Betsy was on the move again; this time signing for another third tier Club in the shape of Oldham; for whom he would spend the season.

Spells with Wycombe and Bristol City followed, with the latter allowing the pacey wide man to go out on loan twice to Yeovil and then to Saturday’s visitors Walsall in January 2008. The winger made an instant impression after scoring on his home debut in a 2-0 success against former Club Yeovil, but despite that he managed just one more goal during his time at the Banks’s Stadium and that came in a disappointing 3-1 home loss against Bournemouth. Betsy made 16 appearances in total for the Saddlers with his last appearance coming against former employers Hartlepool as Walsall completed the season with a draw and ultimately a 12th placed finish.

Southend and then a return to Wycombe would be Betsy’s next point of calls before a transfer to hometown Club Woking was agreed in July 2012. The former Barnsley man has netted 22 times in over 100 appearances for the Club and is currently helping the Cardinals push for a play-off spot in the Conference.

Form Guide

Barnsley’s last five at home: (WWLWW)
Barnsley 2-1 Port Vale
Barnsley 1-0 Oldham Athletic
Barnsley 1-2 Fleetwood Town
Barnsley 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Barnsley 1-0 Coventry City

Walsall’s last five away: (WWDLW)
Colchester United 0-2 Walsall
Doncaster Rovers 0-2 Walsall
Bradford City 1-1 Walsall
Preston North End 1-0 Walsall
Yeovil Town 0-1 Walsall


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