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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Blackburn At Home!

22 December 2016

The Reds will be targeting a fourth win in five games when they take on Blackburn Rovers in the Boxing Day clash at Oakwell.

Victories against Birmingham, Norwich and Cardiff have seen Paul Heckingbottom’s men move back up the Championship table following a dismal run which had seen them win just once in 11 outings.

Last weekend’s dramatic success at the Cardiff City Stadium showcased the unity and desire in this Barnsley squad however and with the chance to climb as high as eighth, they will be going all out to record back-to-back home victories for the first time since August.

Blackburn meanwhile will be looking to halt a run of three straight defeats; all of which have ended 3-2.

Those losses against Preston, Brighton and most recently Reading have seen Rovers drop into the relegation zone and with two points separating themselves and Burton, they will be desperate not to slip any further adrift.

Away from home Owen Coyle’s side have tasted victory on just two occasions in the league this term, but despite losing four of their last five on the road, the Lancashire outfit did secure an impressive 1-0 triumph at Newcastle last month.

Previous Meetings

Barnsley will be looking for a first win against Blackburn in nearly 17 years.

Since the Tykes’ 5-1 victory at Oakwell all the way back in January 2000, there has been three draws and five Blackburn wins in this fixture.

Although Rovers have dominated recent proceedings, the Reds did earn a 2-2 draw in the most recent meeting between the sides and that came in January 2014 when Chris O’Grady’s second-half penalty secured a 2-2 draw in South Yorkshire.

That stalemate was the 20th in total between the Clubs but with Blackburn winning 30 compared to Barnsley’s 11, the Reds will be eager to bridge that gap.

Team News

Ryan Williams will be hoping to make a first Reds start since January following his injury time winner against Cardiff last weekend.

The Australian winger – who was only introduced as a 90th minute substitute against the Bluebirds – fired in from close range, in what was just his fifth appearance of the campaign.

Elsewhere, Adam Hammill sits out the second game of his three-match ban, while Adam Armstrong is still struggling with a knee problem.

If Paul Heckingbottom opts to bring some fresh legs into his side, both Marley Watkins and Cole Kpekawa wait in the wings.

Blackburn will be without captain Jason Lowe after the midfielder received his 10th yellow card of the season last weekend.

On a positive note defender Gordon Greer returns from a one-match ban which could see Wes Brown drop to the bench despite his goal scoring exploits last weekend.

Charlie Mulgrew may also provide a timely return from a groin injury which has seen him miss the last two games against Brighton and Reading, but Rovers will have to check on the fitness of midfielder Corry Evans who was replaced by Hope Akpan last Saturday.

Man in the Middle

Barnsley will be looking to secure a third win on the bounce in the company of referee Andrew Madley.

The West Yorkshire-based official watched over the Club’s 1-0 victory against Doncaster in February as well as their 4-0 triumph at Wolves earlier this season.

In total Madley has overseen three Barnsley wins and just the one defeat, which came in April 2015 when the Reds went down 2-0 at Sheffield United.

Despite Barnsley’s good record with Madley as the man in the middle, Blackburn will be searching for their fourth win in a row in his company.

The most recent of those triumphs came in September when they secured a 2-1 success at Derby; with Rovers winning four, drawing one and losing three when the 33-year-old has been in charge.

So far this term Madley has overseen 22 games, dishing out 65 yellow cards and just the one red.

Their Star Man

After scoring seven goals for Rovers during a loan spell from Sunderland in the second half of last season, Blackburn completed the permanent signing of striker Danny Graham in June.

Despite only scoring once during his time at the Stadium of Light, the 31-year-old showcased enough in his short stay at Ewood Park that he could repeat the kind of form which he displayed while at Carlisle, Watford and Swansea earlier in his career.

Arriving on a free transfer it took Graham just four games to net his first goal of the campaign but despite that, he found the back of the net just twice in his first 13 outings.

What has happened since then however has proved Rovers were right to put their faith in the former England U20 international, with Graham hitting six goals in his last six games including braces against both Brentford and Preston, as well as one against Reading last weekend.

Although the Middlesbrough youth product’s goals have not always resulted in wins of late, his clinical finishing, strong hold-up play and blossoming partnership with Sam Gallagher means Rovers’ front line cannot be taken lightly on the day.

Mutual Man

Craig Hignett is a player Barnsley fans will never forget and how could they after a debut which has seen him named alongside the likes of Bobby Charlton, Zinedine Zidane and Romario as one of the greatest debutants of all time.

Arriving from Aberdeen, the Whiston-born playmaker made his Reds bow against local rivals Huddersfield Town; scoring twice in a remarkable 7-1 triumph for Barnsley at Oakwell.

The Liverpool youth product – who also missed a penalty in that game – ended the campaign with 14 goals to his name and after bagging another 21 in the following 1999-2000 season, the Tykes were unlucky not to win promotion to the Premier League after a play-off final defeat against Ipswich.

Hignett notched his 21st of the campaign in that loss to end a stunning first term with the Club which included another strike against Huddersfield and a hat-trick at home to Walsall.

Unfortunately for the Reds however that form did not go unnoticed and in July 2000 Hignett completed a transfer to Blackburn for a fee in the region of £2.2million.

After making his Rovers debut in a 2-1 loss at Fulham, the versatile midfielder would go onto appear 68 times for the Club over three seasons; scoring 14 in the process. 

The 46-year-old enjoyed some memorable times at Ewood Park; first clinching promotion back to the top flight in his first season, before helping Rovers win the League Cup against Tottenham a year later.

Despite appearing in the UEFA Cup for Rovers, the former Tyke appeared only four times during the 2002-03 season and in July 2003 he joined Leicester before spells with Crewe, Leeds, Darlington and Hartlepool; the latter of which Hignett has been manager of since February this year.

Form Guide

Barnsley’s last five at home: )WLDDL(

Barnsley 0-2 Newcastle United (18/10/2016)

Barnsley 2-2 Bristol City (5/11/2016)

Barnsley 0-0 Wigan Athletic (19/11/2016)

Barnsley 2-5 Nottingham Forest (25/11/2016)

Barnsley 2-1 Norwich City (10/12/2016)

Blackburn’s last five away from home: )LWLLL(

Birmingham City 1-0 Blackburn Rovers (1/10/2016)

Bristol City 1-0 Blackburn Rovers (22/10/2016)

Aston Villa 2-1 Blackburn Rovers (5/11/2016)

Newcastle United 0-1 Blackburn Rovers (26/11/2016)

Preston North End 3-2 Blackburn Rovers (10/12/2016)

Tickets are still available for the Reds' Boxing Day match against Blackburn!CLICK HERE to buy yours now! #COYR

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