Barnsley will travel to Walsall on Thursday night hoping to hang onto their first leg lead in the play-off semi-final.
Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Oakwell put the Reds in control of the tie and edged them closer to a second Wembley appearance of the campaign.
With Paul Heckingbottom’s men eager to make that happen, they will arrive at the Banks’s Stadium full of confidence; unbeaten in their last eight matches away from Oakwell and having scored seven goals in their last two games.
Hosts Walsall meanwhile, will be desperate to build on their recent run of home form as they look to overturn the first leg deficit.
The Saddlers have won four of their last five games in front of their home faithful including their last two on the bounce against Shrewsbury and then Fleetwood.
The latter of those victories saw the West Midlands-based outfit score three goals at home in a game for just the second time this season but Jon Whitney’s side will have to make it a third time and maybe even more come Thursday evening.
The Reds will look to make it three wins on the bounce against Walsall in Thursday night’s play-off semi-final second leg.
Despite suffering a 2-0 home defeat against the Saddlers in October, the Tykes have gone onto record back-to-back victories against the West Midlands-based side.
In March goals from Ashley Fletcher, Josh Brownhill and Harry Chapman secured all three points for the Reds as they continued their search for a play-off spot, before Saturday’s 3-0 first-leg success made it two wins on the bounce against the Saddlers for Paul Heckingbottom’s men.
That triumph also saw Barnsley move onto 17 wins in this fixture but with Walsall narrowly behind on 16, they will be doing all they can to draw level on Thursday night as they hunt for a big turnaround at the Banks’s Stadium.
Paul Heckingbottom will name the same side for a fifth consecutive game on Thursday night.
An unchanged Reds XI picked up back-to-back draws against Sheffield United and Colchester, before securing victories against Wigan and the Saddlers in the Club’s last two games.
Ashley Fletcher will partner top goal scorer Sam Winnall in attack once again, while Josh Scowen will continue at full-back with James Bree and George Smith still absent.
Fellow defender Aidy White did play the final 13 minutes of Saturday’s 3-0 win but is unlikely to start at the Banks’s Stadium, while winger Harry Chapman will be hoping for more minutes off the bench after a brief cameo at the weekend.
Hosts Walsall may opt to make changes as they look to fight back following their first-leg defeat.
Midfielder Sam Mantom will be chomping at the bit for a return to the starting line-up after being named amongst the substitutes in the first leg, while forwards Jordan Cook and Jordy Hiwula wait in reserve if boss Jon Whitney decides to freshen up his attack.
Man in the Middle
Darren Deadman will take charge of his second Barnsley game of the season on Thursday night. The Cambridgeshire-based official was the man in the middle as the Reds secured a 2-0 victory at home to Gillingham in September. That was Deadman’s ninth game in charge of the Club; having watched over three Barnsley defeats, three draws and two other victories; which came in February 2015 against Crewe and all the way back in 2005 at Swindon.
Thursday’s game will be Deadman’s first of the campaign involving Walsall but he did take charge of their 2-2 draw at home to Shrewsbury in last season’s FA Cup; brandishing six yellow cards. So far this season the Cambridgeshire official has shown 99 yellows and three reds in 35 games.
Their Star Man
Welsh forward Tom Bradshaw may be Walsall’s top goal scorer this season with 20 goals but several other players have shone in a fine season for the Saddlers. One of those is Saint Kitts and Nevis international Romaine Sawyers, who has lit up League One this season.
The 24 year-old – who is out of contract in the summer – arrived at the Banks’s Stadium initially on loan in March 2013 from West Brom before making that move permanent four months later. In his first full campaign with the Club, Sawyers hit seven goals in 49 appearances, before adding another five to his Walsall tally last season in 51 outings.
With the former Port Vale and Shrewsbury loanee eager to step up his game this time out, the winger began the season with two goals in as many games against Oldham and Nottingham Forest. Sawyers continued his fine form with a brace against Blackpool at the end of August and after notching in the Club’s 1-1 draw at Peterborough in mid-September, interest in the attacker began to grow even further.
His sixth of the campaign in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Colchester would prove to be the beginning of a barren spell for the ex-West Brom man however, with the Birmingham-born wide man going 34 games without a goal. That run was ended just over two weeks ago when Sawyers netted the third in Walsall’s 3-1 success against Fleetwood but despite failing to find the back of the net regularly in the past few months, he has contributed consistently elsewhere.
The pacey winger has 11 assists to his name this term and with only Bradford’s Tony McMahon and Peterborough forward Marcus Maddison creating more this season, Sawyers is highly regarded as one of League One’s most feared attackers. That form saw the former Shrewsbury man named in the PFA League One Team of the Year and despite narrowly missing out on the Player of the Year award, Sawyers has continued to excel with two assists in his last five games.
Mark Robins may never have kicked a ball for the Reds but the former Manchester United striker was appointed as Barnsley manager in September 2009; replacing the outgoing Simon Davey.
The ex-England U21 international arrived at Oakwell from Rotherham with the Reds sitting bottom of the Championship. Despite losing his first game in charge against Watford, instant improvements were made and four wins from his first seven games in charge edged the Club away from the relegation zone.
With results continuing to go from strength-to-strength over the next few months, Barnsley moved nine points clear of the bottom three following an eight-match unbeaten run. An inconsistent spell then followed at the turn of the year and unfortunately for the Reds, a 10-game winless run at the end of the season saw them finish in 18thplace.
Despite that, the Club did finish seven points above the drop zone and after reaching the fourth round of the League Cup – where the Reds lost 2-0 against Manchester United – it proved to be an encouraging first season under Robins.
Following that campaign, Barnsley’s Oldham-born manager made several additions including Jim O’Brien and Jason Shackell but after losing Iain Hume to Preston and Adam Hammill to Wolves during the campaign, the Club struggled for consistency in the second-half of the season but did still manage to achieve their highest league finish for five years; ending it in 17th.
Despite that, boss Robins left his position as manager of the Reds at the end of the season and after a year out of the game he returned in September 2012 as manager of Coventry. Spells in charge of Huddersfield and Scunthorpe also came the 46-year-old’s way, with Robins most recently leaving Scunny in January.
Despite not playing for the Reds, the Club’s former manager did turn out for a whole host of Clubs including Manchester United, Leicester City, Rotherham and Thursday night’s hosts Walsall. Robins joined the Saddlers in July 1999 from Greek side Panionios and made 46 appearances in his one and only season at the Banks’s Stadium. The forward netted eight times in Walsall colours including winners against Sheffield United and Grimsby but in June 2000 he was on the move again; joining Rotherham, before spells with Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday and Burton Albion.
Walsall’s last five at home: (WWDWW)
Walsall 2-1 Colchester United
Walsall 1-0 Southend United
Walsall 1-1 Swindon Town
Walsall 2-1 Shrewsbury Town
Walsall 3-1 Fleetwood Town
Barnsley’s last five away from home: (WWDDW)
Fleetwood Town 0-2 Barnsley
Port Vale 0-1 Barnsley
Burton Albion 0-0 Barnsley
Sheffield United 0-0 Barnsley
Wigan Athletic 1-4 Barnsley
Going to the match?
Walsall plays at the Banks’s Stadium, its address is as follows:
How to get there
Leave the M6 at junction 9 and follow the A461 towards Walsall. At the traffic lights turn right onto the A4148 (Wallows Lane/Broadway West - sign-posted Banks's Stadium). At the next set of traffic lights (1/3 mile) turn right onto Bescot Crescent, the stadium is 1/4 mile along the road on the left hand side. From the M6:
From the Arboretum island take the Broadway North exit and follow the Ring Road to the traffic signals by the Fullbrook Pub. At the traffic lights go straight ahead. At the next set of traffic lights by Broadwalk Retail Park turn left, Banks's Stadium is 1/4 mile along the road on the left hand side. We are situated approximately 3.5km south of Walsall Town Centre.From Walsall town centre:
For Sat Navs please use postcode WS1 4SA
A car park is available at Banks's Stadium, the cost is £4 per vehicle. We recommend people wishing to park on the stadium site (Green Zone) arrive well in advance of the match kick-off time.
Parking is not permitted on the nearby retail park for people attending the match. The club ask that supporters are considerate when parking their vehicles, minimising inconvenience to local residents. We encourage supporters to travel to the game by car to share their journey with friends and family to reduce the number of vehicles arriving at the stadium, allowing everyone to have an easier journey home from the ground.
Banks's Stadium is a two-minute walk from Bescot Rail Station. Trains from Walsall take three minutes to the ground and on matchdays all services stop at the Banks's Stadium.
Banks's Stadium is well served by buses. All buses leave from the Bradford Place Bus Station. Service numbers 401E (operated by Diamond) and 45 run every 15 minutes and stop on Bescot Crescent outside the ground (the 45 now runs every hour after 9.00pm). The 4 service runs every eight minutes and stops on West Bromwich Road a short walk from the ground.