What do February's fixtures have in store for Barnsley?
HUDDERSFIELD, A, TOMORROW
Barnsley’s last away win was in Huddersfield on April 24 last year, 289 days ago, when Daryl Dike scored the only goal with an overhead kick.
Since then, the Reds have not won in 17 games on the road in all competitions.
Huddersfield will be favourites for this FA Cup fourth round clash as they are competing at the top end of the table but it may depend on which club fields their strongest team and takes it the most seriously.
Reaching the last 16 of the FA Cup, and potentially drawing a big Premier League team like last season with Chelsea, would provide Barnsley with extra revenue as well as positivity and something to take minds off the league form.
The Reds’ last FA Cup game, a 5-4 extra-time win at home to League Two strugglers Barrow, did more harm than good as they lost the lead three times and defended disastrously, further denting confidence
LUTON, A, TUESDAY
The last time Barnsley travelled to Kenilworth Road they gained a club record sixth straight away victory which kept them in the play-off places.
It is mind-boggling that – just ten months later – they will visit as the only EFL side yet to win away this season.
Next week will be like a sad tour of venues rocked by Dike last April as, after going to Huddersfield where he scored a stunning winner, they return to Bedfordshire where he netted twice in a 2-1 Easter Monday success.
In-form Luton are one of a few teams who have a comparable budget to Barnsley and are putting the Reds to shame this season.
They have treble Barnsley’s points and look set for at least a second season of mid-table comfort, if not a tilt at the play-offs.
This could be the day Poya Asbaghi breaks the club record for the longest wait for a first league victory by any Reds manager or head coach.
QPR, H, FEBRUARY 12
During the first half at Loftus Road in August, you would never have believed that, by February, the Hoops would be fourth and Barnsley last.
Markus Schopp’s side produced by far the best 45 minutes of the season, playing wonderful football and surging into a 2-0 lead.
But they missed big chances and drew 2-2, then have only won one of the 24 games since.
In contrast, QPR are two points off the automatic promotion places and have won six of their last seven.
They will arrive at Oakwell hoping for a fifth straight away league win.
This game was originally moved to an 8pm kick-off on Sky TV but QPR had it changed back to 3pm as there were no trains back to London for their fans.
COVENTRY CITY, A, FEBRUARY 19
There is no midweek match scheduled between the QPR game and this fixture so the Reds will unusually have a full week to prepare in the middle of a gruelling schedule.
Coventry slipped out of the top six towards the end of 2021 but are still in contention for a play-off place.
Mark Robins’ side are one of only two teams to have lost to Barnsley this season and may want revenge after they missed a host of chances at Oakwell in a 1-0 August defeat including a 96th-minute penalty.
It is 99 years since Barnsley won an away game over the Sky Blues.
Their 26 visits since then have brought 19 defeats and seven draws – with only two points from the last 14 since 1961. Two of the last four visits have been to Northampton’s Sixfields and Birmingham’s St Andrew’s as Coventry groundshared amid a bitter dispute between the club owners and the owners of the Ricoh Arena, where they have returned for this season.
HULL CITY, A, FEBRUARY 22
The last time Barnsley fans were at a stadium to watch their club win away was at Hull almost two years to the day of this fixture.
Cauley Woodrow got the only goal as Gerhard Struber’s side made it three wins in a row, weeks before Covid-19 closed football down.
That season, Hull were in contention for the Premier League in January but had a woeful second half of the campaign and went down rather than Barnsley.
The Reds might have been hoping for a similar implosion after Hull’s new owner sacked former Barnsley midfielder Grant McCann last week despite back-to-back wins over top four sides Blackburn and Bournemouth.
But they appointed former Rangers striker Shota Arveladze who won his first game 2-0 over Swansea to put them 12 points clear of the bottom three.
All the other teams Barnsley are due to face in February are currently in the top ten pushing for promotion, which makes this fixture stand out as a must-win.
But it could be too late if they do not get a couple of victories before then.
If Asbaghi still has not won by this point, he could break the club record for the longest winless league streak under one manager which was set by Markus Schopp earlier in the season.
MIDDLESBROUGH, H, FEBRUARY 26
Chris Wilder replaced Neil Warnock in November and has turned Boro into promotion contenders, winning eight of their last ten games to move to the edge of the play-off places.
After this game, Barnsley are due to visit Derby County on March 5 in what could be a huge relegation scrap if the Reds are still in realistic survival contention. They then host current leaders Fulham – who are on course for about 100 goals this season – and Bristol City, whose last five matches at Oakwell have been 2-2 draws.
The final game before the last international break of the season is a derby at Sheffield United, now managed by former Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom who has two former Reds captains in Adam Davies and Conor Hourihane in his squad.
There are home matches with Blackpool and Stoke still to fit into the schedule.