New Nottingham Forest head coach Steve Cooper travels to Oakwell with a Reds squad, searching for their first taste of victory in four matches against the Tykes.
When Nottingham Forest arrive at Oakwell, they arrive with the start of a team overlooked by new CEO Dane Murphy – a man formerly of the Reds opponents on Wednesday evening, Barnsley.
Under the American’s stewardship, the South Yorkshire side played football with a style and identity built patiently over seasons, and impressed to reach in the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship play-offs. Barnsley boasted the youngest average squad in the division, and played eye-catching football despite falling just short.
The Reds fell under a different observation last season, with only Millwall accumulating a higher average age of squad. This is a blueprint that Murphy is looking to change, with Forest wanting to cut costs on wages and recruitment, whilst making savvy young signings that help build for future seasons.
Just one season before that Forest were condemned to a play-off damaging defeat late into the 2019/20 season at Oakwell, as they fell to a stoppage time defeat. A fifth game winless that conceded yet more points to seventh as the season went into the final day, and eventually concluded in an embarrassing fall to seventh in the final minutes of the campaign.
Both sides have looked to the lights at the upper reaches of the division in recent seasons, but are now marooned at the bottom looking up the table, as we head into game week 10 of the 2021/22 Championship term.
Forest’s torrid start to the campaign has seen them occupy a place in the relegation spaces for the entirety, resulting in the departure of Chris Hughton.
His successor, Cooper, prepares the squad for the road for the first time as new head coach. An opening result of 1-1 at home to Millwall was a steady performance, but Cooper will eye his first win against a misfiring Barnsley side, who’ve netted on six occasions this season.
Forest are likely to favour a 3-4-3 formation, as they have against Huddersfield Town and Millwall in their past two outings. It’s given licence for summer loan arrivals, Max Lowe and Djed Spence to venture forward and offer extra legs in the final third.
The Tykes will be desperate to end a seven-game winless run of their own, after a second game without a goal against Blackpool on Saturday afternoon.
Forest will hope the tide swings against the recent head-to-head form book, with the Reds failing to score in any of the last four meetings between the two clubs.