BARNSLEY’S last two weekend home games have been disastrous defeats to fellow Yorkshire sides.
Sheffield United cruised into a 3-0 lead over Markus Schopp’s Reds in October before surviving a late comeback to win 3-2. Then, under caretaker Jo Laumann last month, Barnsley produced probably their worst performance of a miserable season in a 2-0 defeat to Hull City.
Today, Huddersfield Town will look to make it a hat-trick of Yorkshire derby defeats for the Reds, under three different managers, in the first fixture of a potentially decisive December.
The Reds are likely to continue their safety-first approach under Poya Asbaghi but, after extra training time, must find the end product to conjure up the first goal and win under him.
A victory at Oakwell in a Yorkshire derby could be the confidence boost they desperately need as they look to claw back a worrying eight-point gap to safety.
Barnsley’s visit to relegation rivals Peterborough on Saturday was billed a ‘massive game’ but that is the case of every match for a side who are so far adrift.
This fixture is, on paper at least, much harder.
The Terriers narrowly stayed up last season after winning just three of the last 24 games, surviving with a game to spare, but have done far better so far this time.
They are eighth in the table, five points outside the top six with 28 from 20 games.
Carlos Corberan’s side have won just two of their last eight, with defeats in their last two. They lost 2-1 at home to Middlesbrough on Saturday.
They have not won any of their last six away games, with two points and two goals.
Steve Chicken, of the Huddersfield Examiner, said: “This season has been better than anyone expected.
“The bookies had Huddersfield as one of the favourites for relegation.
“November was a difficult month, though, and an impressive victory over West Brom two weeks ago was followed up with a defeat at QPR and then their worst performance of the season at home to Middlesbrough, with the 2-1 final scoreline deeply flattering Town after an abject first-half display. That has left some fans fearful that a repeat of last season may be on the horizon.
“In the bigger picture a mid-table finish would represent progress after three miserable years for the club. But despite taking just one win in their last five games they remain eighth, so for the time being all eyes are on whether they can break back into the top six and maintain an unlikely promotion push.
“At Oakwell, they need a response after that awful display against Boro. Their defending overall has been much better this season but it was shambolic in that game.”
Matty Pearson, who spent the 2017/18 season with Barnsley, joined Huddersfield from Luton in the summer and has started all but one league game so far. He came off on Saturday feeling unwell and has a back problem.
Scott High, from Hoylandswaine, is also in the first team squad after starting at Penistone Church.
Barnsley defender Jordan Williams is from Huddersfield and came through the Terriers’ youth system before moving to Oakwell.
Huddersfield have several players injured including captain Jonathan Hogg and star right wing-back Pipa.
Jordan Rhodes, the former Barnsley academy player, has been out for three months with a back injury but played for the B team this week.
The two clubs have met 76 times, with Barnsley winning 32 and losing 29. The Reds have won the last three. They won at Oakwell in January last year then did the double last season thanks to a Michal Helik brace on Boxing Day in a 2-1 win and a Daryl Dike overhead kick at the John Smith’s Stadium in April.
JOSH BENSON V SCOTT HIGH
Midfielder High, 20, is from Hoylandswaine and began his career with Penistone Church before being snapped up by the Terriers youth system. His brother Reece still plays for Penistone.
Scott had a successful loan spell with Shrewsbury last season and has broken into the Huddersfield midfield this campaign. He is a neat and tidy player who has impressed with his pressing and passing. He has been playing alongside Lewis O’Brien, 23, another talented youngster who scored a fine goal at Oakwell in January last year.
O’Brien is expected to move to the Premier League in the near future, with Leeds very interested last summer.
Benson – who turns 23 on Sunday – has struggled for form of late but has the ability to be a match-winner.
It is not clear who will start as none of Barnsley’s young midfielders have done enough recently to be guaranteed a place tomorrow, while Poya Asbaghi has played both a two-man and three-man midfield in his short tenure.
CAULEY WOODROW V MATTY PEARSON
Centre-back Pearson left Oakwell weeks before Woodrow arrived in the summer of 2018. He has then made himself a regular in the Championship with Luton Town and now the Terriers who he joined in the summer. He has added grit to a back three also including Tom Lees – their best player so far this season – and Chelsea loanee Levi Colwill, 18. Pearson has three goals this season, just one behind top-scorer Danny Ward. He is a slight doubt with a bad back.
Woodrow – who turned 27 yesterday – has not scored in ten games but is still joint top-scorer on three with Aaron Leya Iseka. He is clearly low on confidence like most of his team-mates, and the Reds desperately need him to provide some end product. He will hope to score past goalkeeper Lee Nicholls who had a difficult day with several errors when Barnsley won 4-1 at promoted Wigan Athletic to reach the play-offs on the final day of the 2015/16 League One season.
CALLUM STYLES V SORBA THOMAS
Thomas signed from non-league Boreham Wood in January and has impressed this season with eight assists, the third most in the division. Huddersfield have struggled for goals from open play but are the top-scorers from set plays with Thomas and Luxembourg international Daniel Sinani’s delivery a big threat. Right winger Thomas – whose form has earned him two caps for Wales – will be a test for whoever plays on the left for Barnsley. That is most likely to be Styles if they stick to a 3-4-3 or former Huddersfield academy graduate Jordan Williams if a back four. Styles has been one of the Reds’ better players in recent weeks but overall, with a goal and an assist, has not been the same threat as last season.