Barnsley will aim to strengthen their grip on a play-off place at fellow top six contenders Bournemouth tomorrow and continue their ten-match unbeaten run.
The Reds are currently sixth in the Championship, two points clear in the play-off places, which is the highest they have been since the year 2000 other than in the first ten games of a season.
They have the joint most points at this level since that 1999/2000 season, with 11 games left. Valerien Ismael’s side now visit seventh-placed Bournemouth tomorrow then bottom club Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday.
Their seven-match winning run – a club record in the second tier and their second best such run ever– ended on Wednesday with a 0-0 draw at home to Derby County.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “We know this is the Championship and we can’t win every game. It was very important to take a point and a clean sheet from a very difficult game.”
Barnsley are currently unbeaten in ten games which is their best such run since a 12-game sequence in the 2001/02 relegation campaign. They have not been behind in ten games since their January loss at Watford, their longest run in the second tier since 1906/07 which will become a club record if they do not go behind in 23 minutes tomorrow.
The Reds are hunting a fourth successive away win in the same second tier season for the first time since 1925, although they did it across two seasons in both 1987 and 1996.
Bournemouth are a place and two points behind the Reds who replaced them in the play-off places at the weekend. Asked if the league position adds extra significance, Ismael said: “No.
“It is only the next game in the schedule. We have 11 games left and this is just the next one. Until the international break we have three games and we will give everything until then then embrace the international break and look at the table after that.”
Bournemouth won 4-0 at Oakwell in December, so have not lost in six meetings with the Reds since a 3-1 home defeat in 2004.
Ismael said: “We are a better team with another mindset now. It was at the beginning of a learning process with a lot of mistakes. This will be a completely different game.”
The Cherries have not played since a 1-1 draw on Saturday at Preston North End.
Ismael said: “They have the advantage but you can’t change it, we don’t complain. We accept the schedule and we have enough players.”
Most teams have recently changed their style of play to a direct approach against Barnsley. Ismael said: “This should be different. The pitch will be perfect. We know Bournemouth is a possession-based team. We expect that style but we never know now.”
The Cherries were relegated from the Premier League last year and made one of the promotion favourites for this season as their squad has been recruited for around £100million.
But the Dorset club sacked manager Jason Tindall last month after a run of four successive league losses then appointed former Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate who has won four of his eight league games, losing two.
On Wednesday from 7pm, Barnsley visit Wycombe who are bottom and 12 points off safety. The Chairboys have scored the fewest goals and conceded the most.
They have lost their last four games without scoring.
By the time they have visited Bournemouth and Wycombe, then hosted Sheffield Wednesday on March 20, the Reds will go into the international break having played 13 games in 37 days.
Ismael has been in charge of 31 fixtures in 18 weeks as head coach.
He said: “The reward goes first to the players because they are very professional between games to recover quickly.
“The second thing is our sports scientists Johnny (Northeast) and Jordan (Foster), they made an incredible job. They try to find new solutions all the time. And Sedge (Craig Sedgwick, physio) and Victoria (Stevens, physio) made an incredible job to give the guys all they need with massages and wellness. It is all the people behind the scenes.”