MICHAEL Duff has played down the ‘needle’ between Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers who they visit today from 2pm in the first round of the FA Cup.
The two teams met in a bad-tempered 0-0 league draw in Bolton three weeks ago on October 15.
Trotters boss Ian Evatt appeared to accuse the Reds of time-wasting after he exchanged words with former Bolton man Luca Connell who drew the home fans’ ire for his slow exit from the pitch after being taken off late on.
Duff told the Chronicle: “I don’t know about the comments afterwards.
“The Luca incident was something and nothing. It happened three yards away from me and there were a couple of words said.
“I didn’t feel the need to get involved.
“The last five minutes of a football match is a really highly emotional state.
“It builds into a crescendo with both managers going mad.
“It was a player and manager coming together. I have no real interest.
“If it had been something of note, I am sure Ian would have said something to me afterwards.”
Since then, Bolton had won three games in a row but then lost 3-1 at home to lowly Oxford United on Saturday.
That ended a seven-match unbeaten home run, which featured six wins and the Barnsley draw.
Bolton are sixth in League One, three points and two places clear of Duff’s side.
The Trotters and the Reds have each conceded just 14 goals in 16 league matches this season, which gives them the joint best defensive records in League One. Duff said: “We know them quite well. It’s nearly as tough a draw as we could have got.
“I think they have one of the best home records in League One and that’s the highest league in this round.
“It was a very tight game last time with not a lot of threat.
“They have five or six centre forwards at a very good level
“We’re going there to win.
“We’re not going to say if we get beat: ‘it was a hard draw anyway.’”
Teams often make changes to their side for FA Cup games but the Reds do not have a league fixture for two weeks until the trip to Shrewsbury Town on November 12.
Jack Walton, who began his career in Bolton’s academy, could replace Brad Collins in goal while James Norwood and Devante Cole are the only senior strikers at the club, so could be rested.
“I don’t think the personnel will be massively different, for either side.
“It’s a really tough game so we have to keep the levels up. If it’s a smaller team, you might change the side more but then it’s a banana skin.
“We want to win and get through to the next round. We’re going to look at a couple of things in training then have a discussion as a staff.
“We have belief in the whole group. There were some good under 23s performances the other day.
“We have a group of about 20 to 22 who we class as first team players.”
On the FA Cup in general, Duff said: “I think a little bit of the magic has gone for the big boys, maybe even Championship clubs. But it’s still there for the lower clubs and non-league clubs.
“You want to play one of the big boys – for the club financially, the supporters get a day out when they don’t really care what the score is, and the players test themselves against world class players.
“But we can’t think too far down the line, we need to beat Bolton first.”
What are Duff’s favourite FA Cup memories?
“When I was a player with Cheltenham, we got to the third round as a non-league team then the fifth round when we were in League Two.
“My biggest memory is probably as a manager for Cheltenham against Manchester City (last year when the Robins led on 80 minutes but lost 3-1).
“Rugby is a big sport in Cheltenham and the joke was, if it was 80 minutes long like a rugby match, we would have won. But they brought £167million off the bench and beat us.”
Bolton’s Lloyd Isgrove, who won promotion with Barnsley in 2016, could come up against them after returning from injury. Bolton also have former Reds loanees Gethin Jones and Declan John.
The last time Barnsley visited Bolton in the FA Cup, they lifted the trophy later that season in 1912.
They won that game 2-1 then also triumphed in the FA Cup at home 3-1 in 1988 and 1-0 ten years later.
That 1998 victory, secured by a Darren Barnard free-kick, is the last time the Reds beat Bolton.
In the following quarter of a century they have lost seven and drawn seven of their 14 meetings.
They have not won in 11 trips to Bolton since 1994, including nine visits to their current ground.
They have only netted twice there in six games this century, with the last two being 0-0 draws.
If it is a draw, there will be a replay at Oakwell on the week commencing November 14.