Barnsley will need to see a real up turn in results if they are to secure their safety in the Sky Bet Championship this season.
The Tykes are in the thick of a relegation battle that could see them return to Sky Bet League One just a year after winning promotion. Gerhard Struber’s side sit in 23rd place, five points adrift of Stoke City who linger just outside the relegation zone.
The Tykes have had numerous problems this season including the sacking of a popular manager amongst the supporters. Daniel Stendel was relieved of his duties as Tykes boss back in October and replaced by Struber, with the Austrian slowly putting his imprint on the squad and the club.
Here’s three factors that will decide on which division Barnsley will be playing their football in next season…
It is no secret that Barnsley are poor defensively with the Tykes possessing the third leakiest defence in the division with no fewer than 60 goals conceded this term. However, there are signs that this may be getting better in recent weeks with three clean sheets in their last four games. One of those games being against Fulham, a side that boasts the division’s top goalscorer in the form of Aleksander Mitrovic.
The main thing that will please Struber will be their ability to not lose the games to the teams around them. Hull and Middlesbrough have fallen victim to the Tykes in recent weeks and with the likes of Stoke, Luton and Wigan all to come, their ability to keep these sides out coming in clutch for them.
Keeping Woodrow firing
Cauley Woodrow is enjoying an exceptional campaign for the Tykes with 14 goals. The striker has shown everything he has in his locker to consistently put the ball in the back of the net to give Barnsley just a fighting chance of staying in the division. The former England youth-international will play a key part in the story if the Tykes are to avoid an instant return to the third tier.
The striker has three goals in his last four games including a brace against former club Fulham and an all-important winner at the KCOM as Barnsley completed a double over the Tigers. Following a goalmouth scramble, the ball fell loose with Woodrow reacting first to prod the ball in just before the half-time whistle.
In a side that don’t create a huge amount of chances, Barnsley fans will be hoping that Woodrow can continue to show the instincts of a top striker at this level.
Barnsley’s run between now and the end of the season is not an easy one on paper. The Tykes can not only make a difference to the bottom end of the table, but they could dictate what clubs finish in the automatic and play-off spots. Barnsley will face Leeds United at Elland Road before hosting play-off chasing Nottingham Forest and will conclude the season in the capital at Brentford, who could well have something to play for.
What might work best for Barnsley is for them to take a different approach to these games against the promotion chasers. With their defence appearing to improve in recent weeks and Woodrow being a constant threat up front, a counter attacking mentality may suit Struber’s men. They won’t be expected to get anything from these three encounters and that could certainly help them pick up an extra couple of points.