Barnsley v Rochdale
Sunday 3rd May, 2015
The Reds will look to end the season on a high when they welcome former boss Keith Hill and his Rochdale side to Oakwell on Sunday afternoon.
Following Saturday’s derby defeat at Bradford Lee Johnson’s men are without a win in their last nine games, which has seen the Club drop down to 13th place in League One.
Six draws and three defeats during that winless period means the Reds have failed to taste victory since mid-March but with the chance to finish as high as 10th, Johnson’s side will be going all out for their 11th Oakwell league success of the campaign this weekend.
Sunday's visitors Rochdale will also be eager to end their season strongly after narrowly missing out on a play-off spot.
Dale sit seventh and five points behind Chesterfield in the final play-off place, with the Club’s poor recent form costing them dear in their quest for a top six finish.
Three defeats in their last four games against Swindon, Gillingham and the MK Dons has seen Hill’s outfit slip away from contention but with the Club only promoted from the fourth tier last season it has been a successful first campaign back in League One for the Greater Manchester Club.
Performances in front of their own faithful have been a particular highlight of late for Dale but with their away form a complete contrast, the Reds will take confidence; with Sunday's visitors losing seven of their last nine matches on the road.
Barnsley will be looking to earn their first Oakwell success against Rochdale since September 1996 when they host the Greater Manchester Club this weekend.
On that occasion goals from Neil Redfearn and Paul Wilkinson secured a 2-0 win for the Reds in South Yorkshire but with the two Clubs meeting just twice between then and this season, the opportunity for further home success has been limited.
The Clubs did meet at Oakwell during the 2010-11 campaign but after a tight affair, Anthony Elding’s second-half strike ensured Dale progressed into the next round of the League Cup at Barnsley’s expense.
The only other meeting between the sides in the past 19 years came in August 2012 and it was some game; with a late double from Chris Dagnall earning the Reds a 4-3 triumph at Spotland in the League Cup.
When the two Clubs met earlier this season the Reds made it two wins on the bounce against Dale, with Peter Ramage’s 10th minute effort enough to earn Barnsley a 22nd success in this fixture.
The Reds may welcome back striker Sam Winnall for the final game of the season following a leg strain.
The forward has endured a difficult campaign following a number of hamstring injuries but despite missing last weekend’s defeat at Bradford due to a strain picked up in training, the front man will be desperate to return and end the season on a high.
If head coach Lee Johnson decides not to risk the former Scunthorpe man once again, youngsters Rhys Oates and George Maris will be pushing for starting berths alongside Jabo Ibehre, with the on-loan Colchester man set to make his final appearance for the Reds before returning to his parent Club.
Fellow loanees Declan John, Ben Pearson, Peter Ramage, Cameron Stewart, Joe Wildsmith and George Waring will also be hoping for a place in Johnson’s starting XI with their loan deals due to expire at the end of the season, meanwhile in midfield Paul Digby could start his third consecutive game for the
Reds against Dale.
For Rochdale, they will be without Matthew Lund through suspension, while fellow midfielder and former Barnsley man Stephen Dawson is ruled out with a knee injury.
Keith Hill does have number one ‘keeper Jamie Jones back in his side after returning last weekend from suspension and with the play-offs now out of reach, ex-Barnsley boss Hill may opt to experiment; with young forwards Joe Bunney and former Tyke Reuben Noble-Lazarus itching for starts.
Man in the Middle
Lancashire-based referee David Webb will visit Oakwell for the second time this season when the Reds host Rochdale on Saturday. The official was in charge of the Club’s 5-0 FA Cup triumph against Burton Albion back in November and did not have to produce a single card on what was an easy afternoon for the referee who will be assisted by linesmen Ken Haycock and Jason Tyas this weekend. That game was the sixth Barnsley clash to be officiated by Webb, with the Reds winning two, drawing three and losing just once in his company.
Barnsley’s FA Cup success against the Brewers was one of just 30 games officiated by Webb this season, with the Lancastrian dishing out 67 yellow cards and four reds. Three of those dismissals have come in his last nine games; with Webb sending off Northampton’s Ryan Cresswell in late January, Fleetwood’s Stephen Crainey a month later and then more recently Webb sent York City goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik for an early bath after he handled outside the box during York’s 4-1 win at Mansfield at the end of March.
Their Star Man
Despite Saturday’s game bringing the curtain down on an eventful 2014-15 campaign, the Barnsley defence will be given no let off this weekend when they come toe-to-toe with in-form striker Ian Henderson. The front man has achieved his best return for Dale this season; bagging 22 goals in 49 appearances, compared to the 12 he struck in his first full campaign with the Club last time out. The 30-year-old – who joined Dale initially on a short-term deal in January 2013 ahead of penning a permanent two-year contract six months later – also has seven assists to his name this year in what has been a remarkable campaign.
Three strikes in his first five games including one against eventual champions Bristol City was a sign of things to come from the ex-England youth international this season and after an extremely consistent campaign – in which his worst goal draught has been only five games – the attacker leads the Rochdale goal scoring charts and trails only Preston’s Joe Garner in the League One scoring stakes.
In March the Norwich City academy graduate netted a second-half winner as Dale beat Henderson’s former employers Colchester 2-1 at Spotland, which was one of five goals scored by the ex-Luton man during that month. Despite the campaign coming to an end, Henderson – who spent time with Turkish Club Ankaragucu in 2009 – has continued to find the back of the net of late; netting four times in his last five appearances including a late consolation on Saturday as Dale’s fading play-off hopes were ended with a 3-2 home defeat against the MK Dons.
Despite being born over 50 miles away from Barnsley in North Ferriby, it was at Oakwell that defender Rob Atkinson made his breakthrough as a professional footballer. At the age of just 16 he made his first team bow for the Reds; replacing Robbie Williams for the final eight minutes of a goalless draw at home to Luton. In the following 2004-05 campaign, Atkinson made another appearance in Barnsley colours but this time he featured in a 5-0 defeat at Port Vale.
With the utility man getting a brief taste of first-team action, he spent the 2005-06 season on loan at Scarborough in order to enhance his development even further. After making 22 appearances, accompanied by another four during a brief stay at Halifax at the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign, Atkinson made his first start for the Reds on Boxing Day 2006. It was a day to remember for the former Tyke, as he picked up the man-of-the-match award in a 1-0 home triumph against Burnley. That match began a run of eight straight starts for the defender but victory over the Clarets was as good as it would get, with the Reds losing six and drawing one with Atkinson in the side.
Despite becoming a regular at the end of that season they would prove to be the 28-year-old’s final appearances in Barnsley colours, with loan spells at Rochdale and Grimsby to follow. Atkinson joined Dale in October 2007 but featured just twice for them; making substitute appearances in a 1-1 home draw against Bradford and then a 1-0 Spotland success against Dagenham & Redbridge. Following that extremely brief spell in Greater Manchester, the defender joined Grimsby on loan before sealing a permanent move there in January 2009.
Atkinson went onto make 86 starts during a two-and-a-half year stay at Blundell Park which came to an end in June 2011 when he joined fellow Conference outfit Fleetwood Town. The Cod Army secured promotion in his first season with the Club but the former England C international was on the move once again in the following campaign; joining League Two rivals Accrington Stanley on loan, for whom he made 13 appearances. The versatile defender spent the second half of the season back at parent Club Fleetwood but in July 2013 he completed a transfer back to Stanley, where he remains today after making over 50 starts for the Lancashire Club.
Barnsley’s last five at home: (WDLDD)
Barnsley 3-0 Walsall
Barnsley 1-1 Preston North End
Barnsley 0-2 Sheffield United
Barnsley 1-1 Chesterfield
Barnsley 1-1 Peterborough United
Rochdale’s last five away from home: (WLLDL)
Notts County 1-2 Rochdale
Oldham Athletic 3-0 Rochdale
Preston North End 1-0 Rochdale
Doncaster Rovers 1-1 Rochdale
Gillingham 1-0 Rochdale