BARNSLEY visit the only club in English professional football who are yet to win a home league game this season when they make their first ever trip to Morecambe today.
The Shrimps are last in League One with one win from 13 games, and eight points which puts them six from safety.
The sixth-placed Reds are unbeaten in six away games in all competitions since losing in the EFL Cup at Leeds United in August while they have not conceded in four league games on the road – winning three then drawing 0-0 at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
The last goals they conceded on the road in the league were at Ipswich Town in a 2-2 draw on August 27, nearly two months ago.
If they keep another clean sheet today, it will equal a club record set in late 1980/81 of five shut-outs away from home in league matches.
Morecambe’s only league victory of the season so far was a 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Forest Green Rovers last month. After that the Lancashire club lost three in a row then drew 1-1 at second-bottom Burton Albion on Saturday. They then lost 2-1 at League Two Harrogate Town in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday, conceding in injury-time after making several changes.
Derek Adams’ side are the lowest scorers in the division with ten goals.
The Shrimps’ six home league games have brought just two points – the lowest total in the top four leagues – and three goals, the fewest in League One.
Duff said: “We respect the opposition as always. I am pretty certain we were heavy favourites at home against Exeter last week and didn’t look like winning.
“It’s a new game, new challenges, it’s hard to win a game of football. We will do all the things we do to try to win. There are no guarantees in football.
“Derek’s teams are hard to beat.
“When they got promoted, they averaged something like 36 per cent possession so they are not bothered about having the ball. They are very compact and, when Cole Stockton is in the team, they have a chance. He hasn’t caught fire yet but he has quality.
“They always seem to have really good team spirit and togetherness.
“The fact they are in this league is an incredible achievement. They know they are the underdogs in every game and will be in a scrap. They will enjoy that and will have lived with that. They are a tough nut to crack and ran Ipswich really close in their last home game.”
Asked what the secret was to Barnsley’s excellent away form, Duff said: “Being hard to beat, not giving many goals away. We look like a compact unit. You sometimes need luck on the road which we have probably had that. It doesn’t mean we’ll win on Saturday but it gives us an understanding of how we can have success away.”
Morecambe are in their second ever season in the third tier after narrowly staying up last season.
The Shrimps have made the most fouls in the division and have the lowest possession percentage with 37.
Adams is in charge for a second time having moved to Bradford City after promotion last year then returning in February after being sacked by the League Two Bantams. His only meetings with Barnsley were as Plymouth manager in 2019/20 when the Reds drew 1-1 at home then won 3-0 in Devon.
The two clubs’ only previous meetings were both at Oakwell in the EFL Cup, with the Shrimps winning 2-0 in 2011 then losing 4-3 in 2017.
Liam Kitching will make his 50th appearance for the Reds if he plays.
Barnsley then go from Shrimps to Imps as they host Lincoln City from 7.45pm on Tuesday. Lincoln are 14th with 17 points from 12 games, jumping up from 18th with a shock 1-0 win at second-placed Ipswich Town on Saturday.
Most of their nine away goals came in a 6-3 win at Bristol Rovers last month.
This will be Barnsley’s first home game since losing 2-0 at home to Exeter City last week, followed by three away fixtures. The game could be a return to Oakwell for centre-back Adam Jackson who played 44 games for Barnsley between 2016 and 2019.
This will be the 72nd meeting of the clubs but the first in the league since 1976. The Reds have since won three League Cup ties but were humbled by the Imps 3-0 in the EFL Trophy in August with James Norwood sent off midway through the first half for an elbow. Lincoln have won their last three league games at Oakwell without conceding. The Imps, managed by Mark Kennedy, are due to host Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.