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Winnall: Focus Is Purely on Walsall

12 May 2016

Barnsley forward Sam Winnall feels the buzz of a second Wembley appearance will spur the players to victory this weekend in the Reds’ first leg play-off clash with Walsall.


The striker is the Reds’ top scorer this season with 22 goals and is feels the side are buoyed by their performance against Wigan Athletic last Sunday.


From a personal point of view, to reach Wembley again would be the pinnacle of his career but insists the focus is purely on the Saddlers this weekend.


He said: “It’s really exciting, everyone is in really good spirits after Wigan and for a lot of people in the squad it’s their first time in the play-offs and everyone is driven to make another Wembley appearance.


“To go to Wigan, who are probably the best team in league, and win convincingly shows the strength we have within the squad.


“It also showed when the pressure is on we could produce and that we couldn’t rely on favours from anyone else, we had to go get the win on our own.


“The way results have been going shows we’ve bought into the coaching staff’s ideas and now we’re in play-offs, the run we’ve had in the league should stand us in good stead.


“To get to Wembley again would be right up there in my career, hopefully, if all goes well, it would be great to be playing in the Championship next year but I don’t want to focus on that right now, the focus has to be on Walsall.”


This weekend’s clash has a big game mentality surrounding it but Winnall is adamant that this will have no bearing on this weekend’s clash.


He assessed that the play-offs is a clean slate for both sides with plenty at stake for both sides, but admits the Reds will have something of an upper hand.


He said: “It’ll be playing on their mind that we won the last game but it’s the play-offs now and it’s a different ball game and there is much more at stake.


“Psychologically who knows who is in front but all that matters is that we’re up for the fight.


“You look at every single game we’ve played there has always been something on the line. Early on, it was to get us away from the relegation zone but when we picked up a few wins, we started the think the play-offs were in sight.


“Every game since December and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy matches with Fleetwood have been massive, none more so than the game at Wigan.


“That was a massive game and we went there and did the business which is something as a group we can take a lot of pride from and when it’s mattered, we’ve got the results.”


After beating the league champions, Winnall insisted that looking at how the Saddlers had got on against Port Vale did not cross the side’s mind.


He feels that this mentality has helped the Reds become stronger as a unit and allowed them to enjoy the journey home much more.


Now the focus is on replicating the performance against Wigan this weekend and feels that spirits around Oakwell are high.


“We weren’t bothered how they’d got on and that’s how we’ve spent the whole season, not once have we looked at other teams.


“All we’ve ever done is focus on ourselves. We knew what our job was which was to go to Wigan and win, we did that and enjoyed the journey trip back.


“We’ve always kept it in house and we have kept improving and winning for ourselves.


“However, we’ve experienced this type of tie before and we’ve played so many big games that it can only hold us in good stead for the business end games.


“We’re all excited for it and we want it to kick off tonight. We want to go out and play and everyone is in really high spirits,” he added.



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