Barnsley will be hunting for their eighth league victory in a row when they take on Gillingham at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium this weekend.
Last Sunday’s 3-0 home success against Bury extended the Reds’ winning run to seven games, which has seen them climb into 10thplace and just five points outside the play-off places.
The win also saw Barnsley pick up their third consecutive clean sheet in League One and with the Tykes searching for their fifth away league triumph on the bounce they go to Kent brimming with confidence.
Hosts Gillingham meanwhile go into the clash on the back of some inconsistent form of late.
Last weekend’s 0-0 draw at home to Swindon means Justin Edinburgh’s side have now won just one of their last five league games; drawing two and losing two.
Before that mini dip however and the Gills had won four in a row meaning they still occupy the lofty position of fourth; with only a point separating them and an automatic promotion spot.
The Gills are also unbeaten in their last four home games including wins against Colchester, Bradford and Peterborough; and with Barnsley on a fine run of their own it has the potential to be an entertaining affair.
The Reds will travel to Gillingham this weekend looking to make it seven wins on the bounce in this fixture.
September’s 2-0 triumph at Oakwell was the Club’s sixth consecutive victory against the Gills, with Gillingham’s most recent triumph against the Reds coming all the way back in 2001.
Since then Barnsley have picked up two wins at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium, as well as four at Oakwell; making it 14 in total against the Gills.
The Kent-based side – who have won only six of the 29 games between the two Clubs so far – also go into the game short of goals in this fixture; netting just twice in the last six meetings.
Barnsley could name an unchanged line-up following Sunday’s 3-0 triumph at home to Bury.
Adam Hammill and Aidy White returned from hamstring and groin problems respectively to face the Shakers and should start from the off once again on Saturday.
At the heart of the Reds defence Kevin Long plays the last game of his loan spell from Burnley, while Lewin Nyatanga could be named amongst the substitutes with the Welshman set to make a timely return from injury.
If Barnsley do opt to make changes Josh Scowen is still searching for his first start since November, while on-loan Manchester United forward Ashley Fletcher is chomping at the bit for a starting berth after making several substitute appearances of late.
Hosts Gillingham could recall striker Luke Norris following the Club’s goalless draw against Swindon on Saturday.
The former Brentford man has been suffering with a foot injury but is fit enough to compete with Rory Donnelly and Dominic Samuel for a starting spot in Justin Edinburgh’s side.
One man who will not be available to face the Reds is fellow forward Cody McDonald, but on a highly positive note the 29-year-old is set to return before the end of the campaign despite suffering a broken foot earlier this season.
Man in the Middle
Darren Bond will take charge of a Barnsley game for the second time this season when the Reds face Gillingham on Saturday. The Lancashire-based official was the man in the middle back in September as the Reds defeated Swindon Town 4-1 at Oakwell; making it three matches unbeaten for the Club in his company following two draws in 2014.
The game will see Bond run the rule over a Gillingham game for a third time, with the Gills beating Port Vale 2-0 in September 2012, before losing to the same opposition a year later at Vale Park.
No cards were issued by the official in that match but Bond – who will be assisted by linesmen Robert Dabbs and Andrew Aylott for Saturday’s game – has handed out 70 yellow cards this term in 23 games. The Lancastrian has also brandished two red cards so far this season, with Chesterfield’s Emmanuel Dieseruvwe and Middlesbrough striker David Nugent both seeing Bond reach for his back pocket.
Their Star Man
Nobody will have been more relieved to see the winter transfer window slam shut than Gillingham manager Justin Edinburgh. For a month, Gills’ star man Bradley Dack was linked with a move to several Clubs higher up the football pyramid, with Bristol City the most serious contender for his signature.
Numerous bids were turned down for the Greenwich-born midfielder and with the recently turned 22-year-old more than happy to stay at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium, Dack is now aiming to complete the Club’s quest for promotion.
The Gills currently occupy a play-off spot after a highly successful first six months to the campaign and despite strong performances throughout their squad; Dack has stood out with 14 goals in 34 appearances.
(Dack, right of Barnsley's Mawson)
That tally has already beaten his previous best of 10 which came last season, with the midfielder – who has been with Gillingham since the age of 14 – hitting five goals in his first five games this term including a brace against Wigan.
Despite only scoring three in his next 16 outings, the longest Dack has gone without a goal this season is four games and with six strikes in his last 13 appearances he is showing no sign of letting up.
Five of those six goals have come in vital wins for the Gills including a winner against play-off chasers Peterborough last month but with nine assists to his name as well this term, Gillingham have more than trumped any new signing by keeping hold of their sparkling midfield dynamo.
In May 2004 at the age of 23, Tom Williams completed a move to Barnsley, joining on a free transfer from Peterborough United. The Reds became the versatile left-sided player’s fifth Club despite his young age following spells with West Ham, the Posh, Birmingham and Queens Park Rangers.
The London-born utility man made his Barnsley debut in a 1-1 draw at the MK Dons, before making his Oakwell bow three days later in a 2-1 win against Bristol City. Those were two of 43 appearances that Williams would go onto make for the Reds in the 2004-05 campaign as they finished 13thand 10 points behind the play-off places.
The defender-turned-midfielder started all but one of his games at Oakwell; helping the Reds clinch a double over bitter rivals Huddersfield, as well as two comprehensive wins against former employers Peterborough.
Williams – who also helped the Reds keep 12 clean sheets – spent only a year in South Yorkshire however and in July 2005 he signed for Saturday’s hosts Gillingham. After making his Gills debut in a 3-2 League Cup victory against Portsmouth, he quickly became a first team regular at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Despite some fine form, financial woes meant his stay in Kent was cut short just six months later and after making only 18 appearances for the Gills he was gone.
The 35-year-old – who has one cap for Cyprus after qualifying to represent them through his mother – moved to Swansea after his brief spell with Gillingham, before a seven-year period which saw him play for 11 different Clubs including Wycombe, Preston, Notts County and most recently Amicale in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
Gillingham’s last five at home: (LWWWD)
Gillingham 0-3 Burton Albion
Gillingham 1-0 Colchester United
Gillingham 3-0 Bradford City
Gillingham 2-1 Peterborough United
Gillingham 0-0 Swindon Town
Barnsley’s last five away from home: (WWWWW)
Colchester United 2-3 Barnsley
Shrewsbury Town 0-3 Barnsley
Bradford City 0-1 Barnsley
Swindon Town 0-1 Barnsley
Fleetwood Town 1-1 Barnsley (Barnsley won on penalties; JPT)
Going to the match?
Gillingham plays at the MEMS Priestfield stadium, its address is as follows:
Gillingham Football Club
MEMS Priestfield Stadium
How to get there
Exit the M2 at junction 4 onto the A278. Follow signs for Gillingham driving over two roundabouts before taking the first exit off the third roundabout onto the A2. Continue until you come to the next roundabout (Premier Inn to your left) and take the third exit onto the A289. At the first roundabout take the first exit onto Cornwallis Avenue. Continue along Cornwallis Avenue over the traffic lights before turning right into Toronto Road. Take the second left off Toronto into Redfern Avenue, where you will see the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on your left.From the South:
Exit A2 at junction 1 (M2) onto the A289. Follow signs for Medway Tunnel. After about three miles take the second exit off the roundabout, again following signs towards Medway Tunnel. At the next roundabout take the first exit. At the next roundabout take the first exit into the Tunnel. On exit follow the A289 over two sets of traffic lights before coming to the Strand roundabout. Take the third exit onto Church Street. Drive up the hill and continue over the level crossing. Take the second left after the crossing and follow Linden Drive to the end. Turn right into Redfern Avenue, where you will see the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on your right.From the North:
This is restricted to roads surrounding the Stadium but visiting supporters should note that the following roads are restricted to permit holders only. A list of roads to avoid are as follows: Balmoral Road, Windsor Road, Ferndale Road, Linden Avenue, Priestfield Road, Gordon Road, Livingstone Road, Coulman Street, Beaconsfield Avenue, Harold Avenue, School Lane, Toronto Road, Redfern Avenue and parts of Sunnymead Avenue.
Traffic Wardens can be found in numbers on match days so it is strongly recommended you choose alternative parking areas. Suggested alternatives include: Furthest part of Sunnymead Avenue, Chicago Avenue, Canadian Avenue, Valley Road, Sturdee Avenue, Woodlands Road, Carlton Avenue, Alexandra Avenue, Larkfield Avenue, Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue.
Woodlands Primary School has offered the use of its car parks for supporters' use.
Its 100-plus spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at £3 each from 1.30pm for every Saturday match until the end of the season. Please note that the car park is not available outside of the football season and anyone parking there over the summer is liable to find their car locked inside the school.
Visiting supporters can take advantage of four trains per hour, all departing from Victoria Station (London). There are two fast trains, which complete the journey in 50 minutes departing at five past the hour and 25 minutes to the hour. Two slower trains leave Victoria at 10 past the hour and 20 to the hour - these taking the slightly longer time of one hour and 10 minutes to complete the journey to Gillingham.
From Charing Cross supporters will find two trains per hour departing at 27 minutes past the hour and three minutes to the hour, trains from Charing Cross complete the journey to Gillingham in one hour and 10 minutes.
Times are approximate and may vary from weekdays to weekend days.
On leaving Gillingham station turn left on to Balmoral Road. Walk for about five minutes down Balmoral Road until you come to the end. Straight opposite Balmoral Road you will see Priestfield Road. The away turnstiles are located at the top of Priestfield Road. The walk from the station should take no longer than 10 minutes.