A detailed look at today's relegation battle as third-bottom Barnsley host fourth-bottom Reading, hoping to cut the gap between them from five points.
Barnsley (4-2-3-1): Collins; Brittain, Helik, Andersen, Vita; Gomes, Wolfe; Styles, Bassi, Quina; Morris
Reading (4-2-3-1): Nyland; Yiadom, Morrison, Holmes, Rahman; Drinkwater, Laurent; Ejaria, Swift, Ince; Joao
Barnsley: Injury doubts: Victor Adeboyejo. Out injured: Jordan Williams, Cauley Woodrow, Aapo Halme.
Reading: Injury doubts: Femi Azeez, Dejan Tetek. Out injured: Felipe Araruna, Andy Rinomhota, Alen Halilovic, Yakou Meite.
CARLTON MORRIS V MICHAEL MORRISON
Morris has six league goals this season and, as the current main striker and goal threat, is likely to have to get into double figures to keep Barnsley in the Championship.
He may be joined by captain Cauley Woodrow in the coming weeks, who he has only started alongside six times this season. But, for the Reading game, much of the responsibility for goals is likely to rest of his shoulders. Morris has been on good form of late but the Reds must provide him with much better service than they did in the previous game albeit, at least in theory, against much less difficult opponents than Sheffield United. The onus to do that is on attacking midfielders Amine Bassi, Callum Styles and Domingos Quina.
Morris is likely to be marked by 34-year-old Morrison who recently played his 400th Championship game.
The centre-back made a massive error at Oakwell in December 2019, gifting Woodrow the ball in the penalty area for a goal in a 1-1 draw.
The pressure put by Morris on Morrison could be vital.
MATTY WOLFE V JOHN SWIFT
No player in the Championship this season has more assists than Swift, with 13. He is also the top-scoring midfielder in the division, with 11 goals including the winner against Barnsley in Berkshire in October when he was picked out by a long ball and able to run about 30 yards into the box.
The 26-year-old missed part of March through illness but came off the bench in the last game and is expected to start at Oakwell. He usually plays in the middle of an attacking midfield three so must be carefully tracked by Barnsley’s defensive midfielder Wolfe. The 21-year-old academy graduate has been one of the few success stories of the season, impressing individually in recent months.
He will need another strong game against Reading, alongside Claudio Gomes who has made some recent errors.
Swift is likely to be flanked by Ovie Ejaria – who netted at Oakwell last season – and Tom Ince, who has four goals against Barnsley, in a talented attacking midfield trio, with Reading the league’s most fouled side. These are the two teams have been dispossessed most in league but the one who gains control in midfield could be the winners.
MICHAL HELIK V LUCAS JOAO
Both these players will remember last season’s game for different reasons. Helik had rushed back to Barnsley for the Good Friday fixture which was less than 48 hours after he played for Poland against England at Wembley – conceding a penalty for a foul on Raheem Sterling which Harry Kane converted in a 2-1 win for the Three Lions. He could then just watch on in horror as Brad Collins lost the ball in the Barnsley area only for Joao to shoot wide of the open net, with the game finishing 1-1. Joao – who has been on international duty with Angola this week – has been hit by injuries this season but has scored six goals. Helik has the most interceptions, second most clearances and fourth most headers won of any Championship player.
DOMINGOS QUINA V ANDY YIADOM
After two former Barnsley captains were in Sheffield United’s squad for the last game, another is likely to play for Reading at Oakwell.
Andy Yiadom played 66 games for the Reds between 2016 and 2018 then moved to the Royals. He conceded a penalty in the fixture last season.
It is not 100 per cent certain that Yiadom will play in this game as he played in Ghana’s World Cup play-off win in Nigeria on Tuesday. But, if he does, he will probably come up against Quina who mainly plays on the left of Barnsley’s attacking midfield trio – although it is fluid. Quina has scored superb goals against QPR and Stoke, and will look to continue to add more unpredictable creatvity which Barnsley had lacked before his January loan arrival.
SOME PREVIOUS MEETINGS
Reds 1, Royals 1 – April 2, 2021
A Good Friday result that kept Barnsley above their visitors in the top six. Ovie Ejaria put Reading in front before the break from a long ball then Alex Mowatt levelled with a penalty after former Reds captain Andy Yiadom brought down Callum Styles. Home goalkeeper Brad Collins was then robbed of the ball by Yakou Meite, who crept up behind him, but Lucas Joao shot wide of the open goal.
Reds 1, Royals 3 – August 29, 2009
A fourth successive league loss under Simon Davey who left the club later that day. Andy Gray headed the hosts in front but Reading levelled then Luke Steele gave away a penalty before conceding again.
Reds 0, Royals 1 – April 13, 1996
The smallest crowd of the season, 5,488, watched Danny Wilson’s team produce one of their worst performances of the campaign – a year before they would reach the top flight. A controversial penalty was awarded late on against Adi Moses and converted by visiting player- manager Jimmy Quinn.
Reds 4, Royals 1 – December 3, 1977
Barnsley dominated this Division Four game, despite falling behind against the run of play. Alan Little’s brace put them into the lead then a flourish was added by late goals for Mick McCarthy and John Peachey.
Reds 1, Royals 0 – October 26, 1968
Eric Winstanley scrambled home the winner from a corner on 55 minutes. The hosts had enough chances to win by a far wider margin.