This Saturday sees the Reds head to the West Midlands in what is our final Sky Bet Championship assignment of the 2021/22 season.
A challenging season is coming to a close. Despite a brief upturn in both performances and results through February and into March, the last eight fixtures resembled far too many others in this most testing of campaigns.
This current long run without a win is the third of its kind. Eight without success now, going into our final game this weekend. That’s after two separate 13-game winless runs earlier in the season, which were only disrupted by the one win, against fellow-strugglers Derby County.
Just five other victories to speak of, sadly, and a real lack of goals. The Reds have only scored more than the one goal in a match, once, in the last 12 games. Whilst there have been weaknesses elsewhere, it’s clear that an inability to create and take chances has been the key issue throughout the entire campaign.
And so, it’s 24th, bottom of the division where we will rest at the conclusion of the season, following our final clash of the campaign away at The Hawthorns on Saturday, as we take on West Bromwich Albion in a 12.30pm kick-off.
In our most recent fixture, our last of the season on home soil against Preston North End last weekend, Barnsley took an early lead when homegrown youngster Aiden Marsh bagged on his full Sky Bet Championship debut.
The Monk Bretton-born forward was first to a Victor Adeboyejo pull back to crash home a goal that he celebrated wildly, but that’s where the joy ended on Saturday afternoon just gone. As North End, backed by a noisy away end were the latest side to take all three points at Oakwell.
Goals from Daniel Johnson (x2) and Emil Riis Jakobsen sealed our third straight home defeat, and the second of interim head coach, Martin Devaney’s short-term tenure.
To The Hawthorns then, and an encounter with a side who’ve underachieved themselves this season. That’s despite them snapping up Valérien Ismaël, some of our backroom staff and captain at the time, Alex Mowatt last summer.
Big Val didn’t last long, leaving the Baggies in a pretty healthy-looking 5th position upon his dismissal. He was replaced by veteran manager Steve Bruce who hasn’t managed to add another promotion tilt to his CV. But he has settled them down somewhat, and they obviously come into this fixture as huge favourites.
They head into Saturday’s season finale in 10th position. At least four places lower than they’d have liked, which adds further questions to the change in management.
Albion are unbeaten in their last six home fixtures. In fact, their home record this season could belong to one of the promotion-chasers. Only three defeats at The Hawthorns all season. It’s their form on the road that’s cost them following last term’s relegation from the Premier League.
Only Sheffield United have a better defensive record at home this season, so for a Reds side struggling to find the net generally, Saturday could well be a long afternoon.
But it has been 15 years since Barnsley lost at this particular venue. We’ve drawn on our most recent couple of visits. Our last trip here saw us race into a 2-0 lead thanks to a delightful Cauley Woodrow brace. But Albion pegged us back to claim a point late on.
The referee this weekend is Leigh Doughty. This will be his third Reds fixture of the season having overseen the two draws with Stoke City earlier in the campaign.
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