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Match Previews

BIRMINGHAM CITY PREVIEW

19 January 2022

All the relevant pre-match reading ahead of Saturday's latest Sky Bet Championship outing for Barnsley - a visit to the second city to take on Blues.

We have typed up match previews already this year, only to see fixtures fall by the wayside owing to the rising COVID19 cases throughout the EFL with the emergence of the Omicron variant. 

But here we are again. Fingers crossed this one isn't consigned to the digital trash bin with the rest of them. 

This coming Saturday, the Reds head a couple of hours down the road to take on Birmingham City in a 3pm kick-off. It will be our first league action of 2022, some 24 days after our last Sky Bet Championship encounter - a 2-1 defeat at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers.

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We remain on the hunt for a first league victory under head coach, Poya Asbaghi. The Swede managed success in what has been our only outing of the new year; a crazy 5-4 Emirates FA Cup win over Barrow at Oakwell a couple of weeks ago now. 

But that search for league wins needs to end, and soon. A point we've laboured on this page. Because - with 22 games remaining - the gap to safety is only going to grow. It's already stretched out to eight points, with Barnsley even slipping to the very foot of the table last weekend, finally overtaken by a club who've had 21 points deducted. 

Asbaghi's men couldn't have asked for a more ideal opponent, next up. In Birmingham City we are taking on a side who are in horrendous form. Blues have won just once - back in November - in their last 10 outings.

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They were well-beaten in midweek, going down 6-2 away from home at league leaders, Fulham. Their poor run has seen them drop down to 18th, and in any other season, they'd probably be in the mire that is a relegation battle. Sadly, the points totals of ourselves and others are so low, they are nine points above the side in 22nd, Peterborough United.

Interviews

POYA PRE-BLUES

21 January 2022

In terms of the type of opposition we are set to face, you could argue they're the opposite to Barnsley, in that they're a team full of experienced players. Whether it's defenders like Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean and George Friend, or in midfield with the likes of Gary Gardner and Ryan Woods, Blues have know-how galore. 

It's even more evident in their forward line which consists of Scott Hogan, Lukas Jutkiewicz and the evergreen Troy Deeney. Not that their boss, Lee Bowyer doesn't have some youthful talent at his disposal. But the loss through injury to on-loan star Tahith Chong in November has certainly impacted City. 

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They added Cuban forward Onel Hernández earlier this month in an effort to add more flair from wide positions, with the former Norwich City man joining on-loan from Championship rivals Middlesbrough.

The Reds themselves are yet to add to their ranks during the January window, and it's anyone's guess as to who will be available for selection following the COVID outbreak and lingering injury issues.

One man who definitely won't be seen in a Reds shirt in the near future is captain, Cauley Woodrow, following knee surgery. The top goalscorer, he looks likely to miss the next couple of months, a real blow to Asbaghi's plans.

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We've already met Blues at Oakwell earlier in the season, when a Callum Styles rocket was pegged back by a Jutkiewicz leveller before half-time in a 1-1 draw.

In terms of St. Andrew's clashes, we've got a fairly impressive record there, and won there last season when Woodrow and Styles were on target for a 2-1 victory.

Interviews

COLLINS PRE-BIRMINGHAM

21 January 2022

There were big wins in 2016 when under Paul Heckingbottom we turned Blues over 3-0, whilst a few years earlier we smashed the hosts 5-0 when Craig Davies ran riot, scoring four times. 

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And most famously, back in 2000 we won there 4-0 in a play-off semi-final first leg, taking a giant leap to our first ever Wembley appearance.

The man in the middle this weekend is Tony Harrington. It's the Cleveland referee's first Reds game this season. 

His last Barnsley match? Last season's win at St. Andrew's.

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In terms of domestic streaming, a reminder that the EFL returned to the position held pre-pandemic, where any games kicking off between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturday afternoons are prohibited. 

However, supporters in the UK are able to buy audio passes via iFollow Barnsley. 

For further information on iFollow for this season, and how to activate seasonal subscriptions, please click the link below. 

iFollow


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