Barnsley have had a mixed week in their pursuit to stay in the Championship as they experienced the manic highs and lows of a relegation battle, ending on a huge high at the weekend.
The Tykes have been on a poor run of form that has seen them threatened to be cut adrift at the bottom of the league under Gerhard Struber, with new signings doing little to stop the rot.
They had another three chances to get some valuable points on the board with home clashes against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City, before making the trip down South to face an in-form Fulham side.
A South Yorkshire derby against the Owls was first on the agenda and Barnsley were eager to get revenge for a limp 2-0 defeat to them on the second week of the season at Hillsborough. They didn’t start too well and were behind thanks to a first-half Josh Windass strike, but hit back quickly through a long-range effort from Cauley Woodrow, taking advantage of some poor goalkeeping. They settled for a point and looked to build on it against Birmingham City, but poor defending and a lack of creativity meant they were beaten 1-0 by Pep Clotet’s side.
Up next was a very tough trip to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham side looking to break into the top two, but the Tykes played them off the park and recorded a very surprising 3-0 win to boost their survival hopes.
Here are four talking points from a very hectic week for Barnsley…
Mads Andersen was right to be dropped
In the first two games this week, more of the same was evident for Barnsley at the back as defensive lapses caused them to concede cheap goals that essentially cost them points, which has been the case all season.
In the games where Barnsley have managed to win comfortably, it’s been when they’ve been assured at the back, allowing for the talented attackers to do what they do best.
In the Sheffield Wednesday clash, Mads Andersen was partly at fault for a defensive mixup that gifted Windass a clear-cut chance, to which he made no mistake, and was one of only a few chances in the game.
Following that up, his lack of reaction to a hopeful long ball out wide saw him beaten by Jude Bellingham against Birmingham, leading to the game’s only goal when Scott Hogan fired in.
No surprises then when Andersen was replaced by Aapo Halme for the Fulham clash and that change was justified as Barnsley kept the most prolific striker in the league quiet, and keeping a clean sheet.
The importance of Cauley Woodrow
A brace against his former club on Saturday helped Woodrow to five goals in his last five league games, along with an assist to show just how vital he is to this Barnsley side. While strong defences help you pick up points here and there, a formidable strike force gives you a chance in any game you play, which Woodrow is helping with massively.
There aren’t many teams that will go to Craven Cottage and put in a dominant attacking performance and Woodrow showed his value, continuing his run from scoring some very high-class goals already this season.
Tucking away a penalty and adding the gloss to a perfect away performance aside, he showed the other side to his game when he released Jacob Brown out wide for him to score Barnsley’s second against Fulham.
If they are to stay up and build for next season, Woodrow will be vital.
Jacob Brown is chipping in
It’s been a quiet season up to the weekend for Brown in front of goal, as his strike against Fulham being just his second of the season, but he has been slowly plugging away in recent weeks and proving a real menace up front.
His work in behind the defence and out wide is paying dividends, with his pressure on Marek Rodak against Fulham seeing him brought down and registering an assist, his eighth for the season.
While Conor Chaplin and Woodrow have much more burden on their shoulders when it comes to scoring goals, the influence of Brown cannot go unnoticed as Barnsley’s attack hopes to fire them to safety.
Can you get 16/16 in this Barnsley quiz?
The Fulham win could be a turning point
Heading into the weekend, the Tykes’ fate looked all but sealed in League One next season as they sat nine points adrift of safety. However, a shock win has massively boosted their spirits and could leave them with a chance of survival yet.
In April, Barnsley play the three teams currently above them all within the space of nine days, which could go a long way in deciding their fate for the end of the season.
In terms of a confidence booster, winning away to one of the top promotion contenders is right up there with the best ways to do so, especially putting in an immaculate performance too.
Barnsley have 13 games to cut the gap down and up next is a home clash against Middlesbrough where they should fancy their chances of getting another win, which could see them just three points from safety.