Why Barnsley can be filled with confidence in their Play Off quest
If the head-to-head stats are anything to go by, Barnsley have little to fear in their unlikely quest for promotion to the Championship.
Barnsley will welcome Walsal to the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final at Oakwell on Saturday.
Should the Tykes progress, they will meet either Millwall or Bradford City in the final on Sunday, May 29th.
All of the teams contesting the final promotion spot head into the play-offs in good form - each side occupies a place in the top six in the form table over their final six league fixtures.
Despite their impressive end to the season, including a six match unbeaten run, Paul Heckingbottom’s men finished below all of the other promotion contenders in the league’s form table. Each of their rivals won their last 3 matches.
However, The Tykes can take heart from their impressive head-to-head record against their play-off rivals, having beaten all of them at least once this season, losing just one of the six clashes.
The Reds have a stronger record against all of the other teams across their last 10 meetings, too.
History is not entirely on the side of Barnsley, however. The last team finishing in sixth position to gain promotion to the Championship was Scunthorpe United back in the 2008/09 season.
Head-to-head (last 10 fixtures): Barnsley – 6, Walsall – 3, Draws - 1
Biggest victory: 2001/02 season, 4-1 victory in Football League Division 1
Current form (last 6 fixtures): W-D-L-W-W-W (4th place)
The Saddlers might be banking on their away form to see them through. They boast the best away record in the division with 13 wins, 6 draws and 4 defeats. Coupled with Barnsley’s modest home form, the division’s 12th best, this could be important in determining the outcome of the first leg.
However, Walsall’s form at the Bescot Stadium sees them just two places and points higher in the league’s home table than Barnsley, while The Tykes have the division’s 5th best away record. This could present a real opportunity for Paul Heckingbottom’s men.
Head-to-head (last 10 fixtures): Barnsley – 6, Milwall – 3, Draws - 1
Biggest victory: 1992/3 season, 4-0 victory in Football League Division 1
Current form (last 6 fixtures): W-L-W-W-W-W
Meeting Milwall in the final would perhaps be the most favourable option for Barnsley, given that The Tykes have beaten them twice already this season. This represents their best head-to-head record this season against all of the teams.
The Lions have the 9th strongest home record, with 13 wins, 3 draws and 7 defeats, while their away form is the division’s 3rd best. They have won 11 and drawn 6 of their 23 fixtures.
Head-to-head (last 10 fixtures): Barnsley – 4, Bradford – 1, Draws 5
Biggest victory: 1938/9 season, 5-2 victory in English Division 3 (North)
Current form (last 6 fixtures): W-D-L-W-W-W (3rd place)
A meeting in the play-off final would be the 4th time both sides have met this year, given their Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash earlier in the season. The Tykes will be boosted by the 2 victories and a draw they previously secured, should the sides meet.
Phil Parkinson and Co. have made Valley Parade something of a fortress this season. With 14 victories and 5 draws, Bradford have the best home record of all the play-off sides. Their away form is more modest, the 6th best in the division with 9 wins, 6 draws and 5 defeats on the road.