Barnsley Match Preview
by, 12-04-2011 at 12:22 AM (474 Views)
Tuesday 12th April 2011
Npower Football League Championship
Referee: A Bates
Barnsley (16th) V Queens Park Rangers (1st)
By The Godfather
Let's hope that Saturday's 4-1 defeat at S****horpe was just a 'bad day at the office'. By all accounts, apart from the first 20 minutes, QPR were absolutely dreadful at Glanford Park, producing their worst performance since Watford's 3-1 win at Loftus Road in December. It is crucial that Warnock's men respond against Barnsley on Tuesday night - a victory would put them within touching distance of promotion. Even without Adel Taarabt, who could miss this match, the Rs should have enough quality to beat the Tykes (although I said the same thing in my S****horpe match preview). Our players must not become complacent.
Manager: Mark Robins
Since their promotion to the Championship in 2006, Barnsley have often found themselves in relegation battles. This season, however, Mark Robins has done well to guide his team to a respectable mid-table position. The Tykes currently lie in 16th position, thirteen points ahead of the drop zone.
A play-off challenge is out of the question, as Barnsley are simply too far behind. Therefore, some might argue that the Tykes don't really have much to play for. However, I believe that Robins will be keen to improve his side's league position - and will no doubt sense an opportunity to shock the league leaders after Saturday's humiliation at S****horpe. Oakwell can be an intimidating venue and I'm sure that Warnock will be expecting a tough battle on Tuesday night.
Men to watch
Barnsley's top scorer this season is the experienced Andy Gray, who has achieved a lot of success in the Championship. He first earned a reputation as a prolific striker during a spell at Sheffield United, scoring 25 goals in 58 appearances, a total which attracted the interest of Sunderland. The Black Cats purchased him in 2005 for £1.1 million, but he didn't make an impact at Premiership level and moved on to Burnley in the summer of 2006. Despite a series of injuries, he managed to net 25 times in 60 appearances for the Clarets, an impressive record. A brief period at Charlton followed, before he signed for the Tykes in 2009. The 33 year-old, who has been capped by Scotland, will pose a threat on Tuesday night.
Robins also has the talented Danny Haynes, a player who has caused QPR problems in recent years. The 23 year-old, who is both pacey and skilful, began his career with Ipswich, making 115 starts for the Tractor Boys between 2005 and 2009. Bristol City signed him for an undisclosed fee two seasons ago, but he struggled to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up. The forward joined the Tykes in January and has since become popular with the supporters. Having scored against his former club on Saturday (Bristol City), Haynes is likely to be full of confidence for this encounter.
Marlon Harewood could also feature for Barnsley. The 31 year-old striker is currently on loan at Oakwell from Blackpool, after failing to break into Ian Holloway's first team. Of course, Harewood's most successful spell came at West Ham United, netting 47 times in 142 appearances and helping the club to re-establish itself in the Premiership. He lists Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Wolves and Newcastle among his former clubs.
In midfield, expect to see the talented Jacob Butterfield start, a 20 year-old who was described as "a hot prospect for the future" by previous manager, Simon Davey. A product of the Tykes' youth academy, Butterfield has already made 59 appearances for the Tykes and could have a very bright future ahead of him. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the formidable partnership of Derry and Faurlin on Tuesday night.
In the full-back position, Barnsley are likely to start with Matt Hill. Hill, of course, spent the latter half of last season with QPR and was absolutely woeful. What particularly annoyed me was the fact that he seemed to show very little interest in proceedings, half-heartedly jogging around the pitch. The former Wolves man seems to have impressed Barnsley, however, who signed him on a permanent deal during the January transfer window. Wouldn't it be typical to see him suddenly produce a Roberto Carlos-esque performance against QPR?
In goal, Luke Steele is likely to retain his position. The 26 year-old joined Barnsley on an emergency loan deal from West Brom in February 2008 and produced a man-of-the-match-winning display against Liverpool in the FA Cup, a match which Barnsley went on to win. Unsurprisingly, Barnsley subsequently signed him on a permanent basis and he has since made 89 appearances for the Tykes.
(Extract from my match report): On Saturday I left Loftus Road feeling very excited about the season ahead. This was by no means a tremendous performance as the 4-0 scoreline might suggest, but there were some really promising signs in almost every department. I noticed that there was a real sense of belief and determination amongst the players, evidence of the impact that Neil Warnock has made. Of course, there are areas for improvement, an example being the lack of a quality goalscorer, but it is clear that there has been so much progress. Let us hope that it continues.
Barnsley, on the other hand, have clearly not progressed since the end of the previous campaign. I mentioned in my WATRB Championship Preview that the Tykes had one of the worst defensive records in the division last season, having conceded 69 goals. On the basis of this performance, it seems that Mark Robins hasn't addressed the issue properly. In truth, the away side looked quite vulnerable at the back, gifting Rangers two of their goals. Unless the manager utilises what remains of the transfer window, there is no doubt that they will struggle. It is a shame because they actually looked very threatening in attack at times, hitting the woodwork on three occasions.
Queens Park Rangers 4-0 Barnsley
Norwich will face Watford at Vicarage Road. The Hornets are a very good side who are capable of beating the top sides in the division, but they have been too inconsistent to mount a challenge for the play-offs. Meanwhile, Swansea face Hull City at home, whilst Cardiff travel to face an abysmal Sheffield United team at Bramall Lane.
Heidar Helguson and Kaspars Gorkss are both likely to return to the starting line-up after disappointing performances from Rob Hulse and the central defenders on Saturday afternoon. Taarabt may miss this encounter. According to the BBC, he has been suffering with abdominal pain.
Queens Park Rangers actually have a very strong record against Barnsley. They have won the last three encounters between the two sides, beating them 5-2 and 0-1 last season. As I've mentioned, although Barnsley have several talented players, QPR should be too strong for them. Nevertheless, I am a little nervous, especially after that embarrassing result against S****horpe on Saturday. Hopefully Warnock will have given the players a kick up the backside. I'm going to be optimistic and predict a narrow away victory.
Barnsley 0-1 Queens Park Rangers