We give you the lowdown on our next opponents in our big match preview.
Jose Morais’ Barnsley side are back in action following the international break as we invite Bristol City to Oakwell in a Good Friday clash.
The Reds return to the field just under a fortnight after losing 2-0 to an in-form Millwall side, with eight games left in the Sky Bet Championship to move clear of the relegation places.
Friday afternoon’s fixture sees a return to South Yorkshire for former Reds boss Lee Johnson, who brings his Bristol City side to Oakwell sitting just one point outside the Play-Offs, having beaten Ipswich Town 1-0 before the recent internationals.
Bristol City competed in the Championship from 2007 – when they won promotion as runners-up from League One, until finishing bottom of the division in 2013, returning to the tier where they have spent much of their history. The West Country club have since looked to re-establish themselves as a Championship outfit, after winning the League One title in 2015. The Robins’ first season in the newly-formed Championship in 2007/08 could have turned out very differently, reaching the Wembley Play-Off final only to be beaten by Dean Windass’ volley for Hull City.
Johnson’s team have had a great season this time around, reaching the Carabao Cup semi-finals where they were eventually edged out over two legs by winners Manchester City, with the side also spending a large part of the season challenging for automatic promotion. Whilst the Robins have dropped off slightly, they are still very much in the hunt for promotion.
Bristol City finished runners-up in England’s top flight in 1907, a year after winning their solitary second tier title. The third level of the English pyramid has been won by the Robins on four occasions – most recently in 2015 – and City reached the FA Cup final in 1909.
The Squad – Ones to Watch
Frank Fielding has been Bristol City’s main man between the sticks this season. The goalkeeper, who turns 30 next Wednesday, has established himself as a reliable Championship stopper having also spent time with Derby County before moving to Ashton Gate. Fielding’s backup this campaign is former Barnsley hero, Luke Steele.
Joe Bryan is in line to return from suspension on Friday, with Aden Flint still serving a ban. The full-back, 24, is a local lad and has become a regular in a red shirt in the past few years. Bryan can operate anywhere out wide and scored a crucial goal in the side’s Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Manchester United this season.
Josh Brownhill is a familiar name to Reds fans, following his loan spell at Oakwell in 2016. The midfielder began his career at Preston North End, joining Bristol City after his Barnsley stint ended. Still just 22, Brownhill has a bright future in the game and has been lauded for some top displays this term.
Bobby Reid has raised many eyebrows this season. Currently on 17 Championship goals, Reid is the leading marksman at Ashton Gate and a lively threat going forward. Another who came through the ranks with the club, Reid’s loan spells down the years with the likes of Oldham and Plymouth have proved beneficial with the forward now one of the most feared players in the league.
In The Dugout
Lee Johnson is a coach fresh in the minds of many of the Barnsley faithful, having been in charge at Oakwell for a year between 2015 and 2016. The former midfielder is a cult figure at Ashton Gate, having played for the club for six years along with his managerial successes in the South West. Johnson spent five years with Yeovil Town, and featured for the England ‘C’ side.
Johnson’s first Head Coach role was at Oldham Athletic, taking the reins in 2013 before departing for Oakwell in February 2015 and Bristol City a year later. The 36-year-old is the son of Cheltenham Town manager Gary Johnson, playing under his father at both Bristol City and Yeovil. Gary has also managed Northampton Town, Peterborough United and the Latvia national team.
This Friday’s match will be the 95th contested between the two sides. Barnsley have won 30 previous meetings, with City taking 43 victories – including this season’s opener back in August, when Johnson’s men ran out 3-1 winners. The Reds’ last win over their opponents came in 2012, with Jacob Mellis netting the solitary goal. With the final furlong of the campaign approaching, the stakes are at their highest for the first part of the EFL’s Easter weekend.