The Reds will face a real test of their play-off credentials when they travel to League One leaders Bristol City on Saturday afternoon.
Lee Johnson’s side are unbeaten in eight games following six wins and two draws which leaves them sitting just one place and one point behind the play-off places.
Having only conceded two goals during that spell and with the Club winning three of their last four games on the road, the Reds will go to Ashton Gate in confident mood despite the Robins’ position at the top of the table.
Steve Cotterill’s men are also on an eight-match unbeaten streak; which has seen them pick up 19 points from the last 21 available in the league, as well as securing their third Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success with a 2-0 victory against Walsall at Wembley last weekend.
A stunning 25 wins from 38 games this season leaves the Robins 10 points clear at the top of the third tier and with 14 home triumphs already this term, Barnsley will have to be at their best if they want to keep up the heat on the division’s top seven come Saturday afternoon.
Barnsley will be looking to improve on their recent form in this fixture when they travel to South West England on Saturday.
Three defeats, a draw and just one win have come the Reds way in the past few seasons, with the most recent of those clashes arriving in October.
At Oakwell goals from Sam Winnall and Conor Hourihane put the hosts ahead but Aaron Wilbraham’s strike 11 minutes from time earned a share of the spoils for the Robins.
Despite not meeting last season, the Clubs crossed paths twice in the 2012-13 campaign, with a cracker at Ashton Gate which saw the Robins edge an eight-goal thriller, 5-3, while back in South Yorkshire Jacob Mellis settled a much cagier affair; securing a 1-0 success for the Reds.
Barnsley would not taste joy in the previous campaign however, as Bristol City completed the double over the Reds after claiming a 2-0 home success and a 2-1 triumph at Oakwell.
Teenage goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith will make his Barnsley debut this weekend, with Adam Davies ruled out through injury.
A groin tear will see in-form Davies miss several weeks of action, with 19-year-old Wildsmith signed on loan from South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Thursday as cover.
Despite that, the Club did receive some positive news from the treatment room this week, as Ben Pearson and Josh Scowen were declared fit after illness and hamstring problems respectively.
Experienced defender Peter Ramage may also return to the Reds squad after playing 45 minutes for the Club’s second string against parent Club Crystal Palace on Monday; having missed the last six weeks with a thigh injury.
For hosts Bristol City, manager Steve Cotterill has no new injury or suspension worries following the Club’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success last weekend.
With the Robins utilising a much smaller squad however, Cotterill may be tempted to hand a recall to striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who has notched 10 times this season, while Club Captain Wade Elliott will be hoping for some involvement at Ashton Gate.
Man in the Middle
East-Yorkshire based referee Mark Brown will be involved with Barnsley for the fourth time on Saturday afternoon. The first of those clashes came back in August 2011 when Brown ran the rule over Barnsley’s League Cup elimination at home to League Two side Morecambe. More recently the official has brought the Reds more luck however; taking charge of the Club’s 1-0 win against Millwall in February last year, as well as their 2-0 home success against Leyton Orient in December this season.
On that occasion Conor Hourihane and Devante Cole bagged for Barnsley, but referee Brown also showed red to Ross Turnbull after the Reds ‘keeper handled outside the box. That dismissal was one of six red cards issued by Brown this season – who will be assisted by Alf Greenwood and Andrew Turner at Ashton Gate, as well as fourth official Justin Amey. The referee sent off two players in the same game back in October, after sending both Chesterfield’s Tommy Lee and Sheffield United’s Michael Higdon for early baths. More recently, Brown brandished red to Peterborough’s Marcus Maddison as the Posh beat Leyton Orient 1-0.
Their Star Man
The Barnsley defence will have to be switched on this weekend when they come up against the ingenious of Aaron Wilbraham. The former MK Dons and Norwich forward joined the Club in the summer after leaving Crystal Palace and made an instant impression after scoring one and setting up the other as the Robins secured a 2-1 success at Sheffield United on the front man’s debut. On his second home appearance for Steve Cotterill’s side, Wilbraham netted his first double of the campaign as the three-time Football League Trophy winners defeated Colchester 2-1.
Eight goals in his first 10 games signalled a fine start to life in South West England for Wilbraham but a spell of just five strikes in his next 20 games – including a thunderous effort at Oakwell to earn his new side a 2-2 draw back in October – steadied the praise surrounding the striker. The forward – who began his career in Lancashire with Stockport County – did return to form at the end of February however; netting in three consecutive wins against Doncaster, Rochdale and Leyton Orient to take his tally up to 16 for the season. Unfortunately for the former Hull City man, that run did not progress and just one strike in his last five games – which came last week in the Club’s 3-0 win against Crewe – leaves Wilbraham on 17 goals and four assists so far this campaign.
Powerful striker Marlon Harewood will be remembered by most football fans for his time in the Premier League with Aston Villa, Newcastle and Blackpool but both Barnsley and Bristol City have also played host to the Hampstead-born forward during his career.
In February 2011, the striker joined Barnsley on loan from Blackpool, after netting five times in the top flight for the Seasiders. After making his Reds bow in a 2-0 home defeat against Norwich and failing to score in a goalless draw at Derby, Harewood did bag in his third appearance for the Club as he struck twice in a 2-1 Oakwell success against Scunthorpe. Further strikes against Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough came the front man’s way during his brief stay in South Yorkshire, as the Reds ended the season in 17th place; winning two, drawing three and losing five during Harewood’s spell with the Club.
Following his release by parent Club Blackpool, Harewood spent half-a-season with Chinese side Guangzhou R&F, before a move to former Club Nottingham Forest but after six goalless appearances he agreed a one-year deal to return to Oakwell in August 2012 after Mido was ruled out through injury. The imposing figure enjoyed an improved second debut for the Reds, as the Club beat Middlesbrough 1-0 at Oakwell, before the experienced forward went on to feature a further 36 times; becoming a regular in a Barnsley shirt. Despite that, Harewood only found himself on the score sheet three times; with the opener against Nottingham Forest in a 4-1 defeat, an equaliser on New Year’s Day 2013 against Peterborough, before his final strike for the Club came in a 3-1 triumph against the MK Dons in the FA Cup. In that 2012-13 campaign the Reds survived relegation narrowly by one point, as Harewood helped the Club pick up 13 wins in his second spell at Oakwell.
Despite being a firm member of the Barnsley squad, the forward was released at the end of the season and in July 2013 he joined Bristol City. The 35-year-old made his Robins’ debut in a 2-0 League Cup victory at Gillingham but managed just one goal during his time at Ashton Gate; which came in a 2-1 defeat against Brentford in October 2013. With years of top flight experience to his name it came as a surprise that Harewood would make just 15 substitute appearances and two starts for the Robins before his release in January last year. The former Villa man immediately signed a deal with League Two side Hartlepool, for whom he has scored five goals in 49 outings.
Bristol City’s last five at home: (LWWDW)
Bristol City 1-3 Sheffield United
Bristol City 2-0 Peterborough United
Bristol City 1-0 Rochdale
Bristol City 0-0 Gillingham
Bristol City 3-0 Crewe Alexandra
Barnsley’s last five away: (LWWWD)
Crawley Town 5-1 Barnsley
Scunthorpe United 0-1 Barnsley
Gillingham 0-1 Barnsley
Oldham Athletic 1-3 Barnsley
Leyton Orient 0-0 Barnsley
Going to the match?
Bristol City plays at Ashton Gate, and the address is as follows:
Ashton Gate Stadium
How to get there
From M5: Leave the M5 motorway at junction 18, travel along the Portway (A4) following the signs for Bristol Airport/Taunton (A38). Over the swing bridge (Brunel Way), branching left into Winterstoke Road, and left again at the traffic lights for Ashton Gate. Street parking is limited so please arrive early and adhere to parking restrictions.
From M4: At junction 19, exit onto M32 towards Bristol. Continue on A4032. Turn left at A4044/Bond Street. Continue to follow A4044. At Temple Circus Gyratory, take the 2nd exit onto A4/Templegate. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto A370/York Road. Continue to follow A370. Go through one roundabout. Slight left to merge onto Brunel Way. Take the next left at traffic lights for Ashton Gate.
Due to the redevelopment at Ashton Gate there is no availability on site for parking for the 2014/15 season.
For ABus fairsaver call 0117 977 6126. It runs from Brislington approximately one hour before kick-off. Stops include: Bath Road, Temple Gate, Temple Way, Haymarket, St Augustine's Parade, Hotwell Road. Service 'A' costs £1. For more information visit abus.co.uk.
Bus service numbers 24 and 25 operate from Horfield, Bristol city centre and through to Ashton Vale. The closest stops to Ashton Gate stadium are Frayne Road, Bath Street and Durnford Street, all less than five minutes’ walk from the stadium.
The closest mainline stations are Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway.
From Bristol Temple Meads, a line runs to Weston-super-Mare where the closest stop to Ashton Gate along that route is Parsons Street, a 15 minute walk from the stadium.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE WILL BE NO AWAY TICKET SALES ON THE DAY OF THE GAME.