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Match Previews

FIRST LEG PREVIEW

13 May 2021

The Reds' Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs campaign begins with a home clash against Swansea City.

This is it then. We're in the play-offs. Just three games away from a return to the top flight. 

On Monday 17 May we take on Swansea City in an 8.15pm kick-off at Oakwell, in the first leg of our Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final. 

Televised live across the nation on Sky Sports, it's an Anglo-Welsh affair in South Yorkshire, when Steve Cooper brings his Swans up Grove Street to face Valérien Ismaël's 'underdogs'. 

Beaten twice in this particular fixture across the regular season, Barnsley are about to square off with a side who are making their second successive appearance in the end-of-season play-offs. 

The Jacks were eliminated at this same stage last term. After a 1-0 home win in the first leg, they were defeated 3-1 by Brentford in the second leg at Griffin Park. 

It was a differeny story in the 2010/11 campaign, however. After finishing 3rd in the regular season, they went on to knock out Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals of the play-offs before a Scott Sinclair hat-trick helped them to a 4-2 win over Reading in the final at Wembley, securing them a first season in the Premier League.

That, though, is their only success story in play-off history. 

In 2005/06, at League One level, they were - of course - beaten on penalties by the Reds. There were two unsuccessful play-off campaigns in the fourth tier also - defeated in both 1996/97 and 1998/99. 

And in 1992/93, they were eliminated by West Brom in the semi-finals of the the Division Two play-offs. 

The Reds have had only three play-off campaigns. As well as the glory of 2006 against the Swans, Barnsley also came up from the third tier in 2016 when defeating Millwall 3-1 at Wembley. 

But our only previous play-off experience at this level ended in defeat. Back in the 1999/00 season, after comfortably seeing off the challenge of Birmingham City over two legs, Dave Bassett's men were then beaten 4-2 in the Wembley final by Ipswich Town. 

Looking for any kind of lucky omen? The Reds have won the two play-off campaigns in which they played their semi-final first leg at Oakwell. 

But back to the here and now, and whilst neither side ended the season in blistering fashion, it is without refute that the side from South Wales are the most 'out-of-form' side heading into the play-offs. 

Five defeats in their last 10 outings, they limped to the finish line after previously looking a real favourite for an automatic promotion spot. 

But they did beat the Reds both home and away, and 2-0 on both occasions. 

The players they have at their disposal are certainly some of the best available at this level. Former England U21 'keeper Freddie Woodman, colossus at the back, Marc Guéhi, flying full-backs in Connor Roberts and Jake Bidwell, talented midfielders such as Jay Fulton and Matt Grimes and of course, up front they can rely on the outstanding André Ayew.

Not to forget, in midfield since January they've had the services of Conor Hourihane. He joined on-loan from Aston Villa and needs little introduction. A modern day Reds legend, he was captain in our joyous play-off journey of 2016. 

It's going to be another huge test for Ismaël's men, but they'll have the added bonus of around 4,500 Reds supporters cheering them on inside Oakwell. 

After 14 months without fans, what a time to return! But it's accompanied by sadness too, in the knowledge that thousands of others weren't able to join them. 

Due to broadcast restrictions, there will be no live stream on iFollow Barnsley, with Sky Sports the place to go for all TV coverage. 

Audio commentary with Matt Bailey will be available as usual, however. Click here to get your audio pass for just £2.50. 


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