BARNSLEY will focus on playing significantly better than last weekend when they complete their League One season at home to play-off chasers Peterborough United from 12pm on Sunday.
Whereas the Reds are certain to finish fourth, the Posh are seventh, two points outside the top six. To finish in the final play-off place, Darren Ferguson’s side need to win at Oakwell and hope Derby County lose at Sheffield Wednesday.
Posh could finish sixth if Derby draw but would have to beat the Reds by at least three goals. The game will be shown live on Sky.
Duff – whose side came from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 at MK Dons on Saturday – told the Chronicle: “We are going to finish fourth, win, lose or draw. It won’t affect us. But it’s on Sky and it’s our last home game of the (league) season so we want to put out a better performance than on Saturday. Whether we play a friendly or the play-offs, there are certain things we expect.”
He added: “I think it’s a really good game for us to have. They (Posh) know they have to win. Darren said it’s the biggest game of his career and he has not had a bad career. We have to be better than on Saturday in key moments. It’s probably the first time I lost my temper for a long long time. It wasn’t acceptable.
“I don’t worry too much about playing like that when the real whistle blows because, without being arrogant, we’ve proved over a long time that that doesn’t normally happen to us.
“The performance is more important than the result. The results count the week after. The players know we’re in the play-offs and this isn’t the play-offs.”
Duff will be cautious with any players who have injury doubts, saying: “If there is a 50/50, I am not taking the risk. People will talk about momentum but we’ve had it for six months. We want to win but it’s not a game that will define our season.”
Approaching the last league game, Duff is pleased with the improvement in the mood around Oakwell on matchdays.
“It’s definitely better. I wasn’t here last season but I think the atmosphere from that crept into this season. That was one of the key things we wanted to work on. The supporters have bought into the team’s work ethic and the way they go about their business. Sometimes they make mistakes but, in this part of the world, the fans forgive a mistake as long as the application and effort is there.
“The supporters have seen us evolve over the year and come with us which has been great.”
Posh sacked former Barnsley midfielder Grant McCann on January 4 when they were eighth, having won one in seven. They brought back Ferguson for a fourth spell in charge. He has won 12 of his 21 games.
Ferguson, who first managed Posh in 2007, has taken charge of 535 games for them. He promoted them to the Championship three times including for last season then resigned in February last year before returning 11 months later. He has faced Barnsley ten times, losing six and winning three but has never come up against Duff.
Posh have ten wins, a draw and 11 losses on the road this season while only Ipswich have more goals on their travels.
They lost eight of 11 away games under McCann this season but have won seven out of 11 under Ferguson.
Their five draws are the fewest in English football this season.
They are the top-scorers outside the top four but have not netted in their last two. Posh drew 0-0 at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday having lost 3-0 at home to Ipswich in the previous match.
Duff said: “They are really expansive and dynamic in the front part of the pitch.
“They have one of the top-scorers in the league in (Jonson) Clarke-Harris but the three behind him are dangerous too. The wingers get chalk on their boots like in the old days.
“They rotate and play football but they can go back to front with Clarke-Harris’ physicality
“They are a good team with an experienced manager who I am pretty confident won’t panic and will have a plan. They know what they need to do.
“We will prepare for the best version of them and get out of the game what we need to get out of it.”
Barnsley won 2-1 at London Road on December 2 thanks to long-range strikes by Luca Connell and Adam Phillips.
The two clubs were relegated to League One last season.
Peterborough had won 2-0 at Oakwell on Easter Monday last year, their only win in the last six meetings.
The clubs have met 41 times, with Barnsley winning 17 and losing 18.
The club issued a statement reminding fans that entering the field of play is illegal and anyone who does so could face a ban and police action.