A club-by-club look at all Barnsley's opponents for the 2023/24 League One season.
READING. Last season: 22ND in Championship. Miles from Oakwell: 190. Reds record against them: P:80 W:26. D:22. L:32.
Barnsley and the Royals battled for a place in the Championship’s top six in 2020/21 then for survival the next campaign. The Reds won the first fight but lost the second, with a 1-1 draw over Easter last year against the Berkshire club at Oakwell proving one of the final nails in their League One-bound coffin.
They could well be competing against each other again at the top end of the third tier this coming season.
The Royals have reportedly been in talks with former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.
They have players such as Andy Carroll, Scott Dann, Ovie Ejaria and former Barnsley captain Andy Yiadom in their very experienced squad. The Berkshire club are back in the third tier for the first time since 2002.
BLACKPOOL. 23RD in Championship. 88 miles. P:104. W:46. D:25. L:34.
When the Seasiders visited Oakwell in April last year, they looked to be the model of a club Barnsley should aspire to as they cantered to a 2-0 win over the relegated Reds. But Blackpool too have discovered the harsh realities of competing in the Championship on a limited budget, and could not survive a second season.
Manager Neil Critchley – who left last summer for Aston Villa before a disastrous stint as QPR boss – has returned, after Michael Appleton then Mick McCarthy could not keep them up. Ben Mansford, the former Barnsley chief executive, has left the club.
They have triggered options in the contracts of ex-Reds Callum Connolly and Kenny Dougall.
WIGAN. 22ND in Championship. 62 miles. P:16. W:4. D:6. L:6
The Latics will start the new season on minus eight points after again lurching into financial problems.
They were docked four points for failing to pay players, with a suspended four-point deduction also activated.
Soft drinks entrepreneur Sarbjot Johal, 21, is reportedly in talks to become the club’s latest owner, but there are also thought to be other candidates.
They are now under a transfer embargo.
A strange rivalry has developed between Wigan and the Reds in recent years, with fans of each mocking the other as they regularly swap places in League One and the Championship. It was fuelled partly by Wigan’s points deduction two years ago which kept Barnsley up.
They have only met 16 times, nine in the last decade.
Wigan are currently managed by their former player Shaun Maloney.
BOLTON WANDERERS. 5TH in League One. 55 miles. P:47. W:14. D:15. L:18
The Trotters’ season ended at Oakwell with defeat in the play-off semi-finals – a famous night for the Reds and their fans before the Wembley drama.
Bolton have progressed each season under Ian Evatt, winning promotion from League Two before finishing ninth and fifth in League One.
A tilt at the top two is surely the next aim, although they are now without star loanees from last season such as goalkeeper James Trafford and wing-back Conor Bradley.
They released ex-Red Lloyd Isgrove but still have Victor Adeboyejo, Gethin Jones and Declan John.
PETERBOROUGH UNITED. 6TH. 100 miles. P:42. W:17. D:6. L:19.
Posh looked likely to be Barnsley’s Wembley opponents in the play-off final when they thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 in the first leg.
But an extraordinary comeback at Hillsborough saw them concede a 98th minute leveller, lose another lead in extra-time then go out on penalties.
That seems like an even harder defeat to recover from than the one suffered by Barnsley, who also lost to Wednesday in an agonising way but will have far fewer regrets over their performance.
Darren Ferguson will stay on as manager but 29-goal striker Jonson Clarke-Harris has been transfer-listed.
One of Ferguson’s coaching staff is Dale Tonge, who is from Goldthorpe and won promotion with Barnsley as a player and coach.
DERBY COUNTY. 7TH. 57 miles. P:77. W:23. D:17. L:37.
County, like Barnsley, saw their promotion dreams end against Sheffield Wednesday due to some controversial officiating. Curtis Davies was shown a hotly-disputed red card for the winning penalty incident in a 1-0 loss on the final day which allowed Peterborough to snatch the last play-off place with a win at Oakwell.
The Rams have been installed as the early favourites for the title by bookmakers, with the Reds just behind them. It will be a first full season in charge for Paul Warne, who will be looking for a fourth promotion to the Championship of his career with what is thought to be the division’s biggest budget at his disposal.
Top-scorer David McGoldrick is yet to sign a new contract but they still have a very experienced squad including former Barnsley captain Conor Hourihane.
PORTSMOUTH, 8TH, 234 miles. P:56. W:19. D:15. L:22.
Pompey have finished eighth, tenth and eighth in the last three seasons after missing out in the play-offs twice.
They changed their structure behind the scenes early in 2023 when they sacked Danny Cowley as manager and brought in John Mousinho as head coach with Michael Duff’s former Burnley colleague Richard Hughes now sporting director. Barnsley saw a goal controversially ruled out on the South Coast in February after the referee gave them advantage. This fixture very rarely produces an away win. The Reds’ only success in 22 visits to Fratton Park since 1980 was in 1999 while Portsmouth’s only victory in 15 attempts at Oakwell since 1989 was in 2001.
Pompey have released ex-Red Ryan Tunnicliffe.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS, 9TH, 171 miles. P:10. W:5. D:3. L:2.
Barnsley ended the Chairboys’ realistic chances of finishing in the top six with a 1-0 win in Buckinghamshire on March 17. Slobodan Tedic headed home in the 85th minute to send the away end wild. That was just after long-serving manager Gareth Ainsworth left for Championship Queens Park Rangers, with legendary player Matt Bloomfield brought in from Colchester to replace him.
It will be a new era at Adams Park for a club who were generally in League Two or lower League One until 2020 then they reached the Championship, were relegated a year later and lost last year’s play-off League One final.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC, 10TH, 190 miles. P:54. W:18. D:15. L:21.
The Addicks are one of several traditionally big clubs marooned in mid-table in the third division but capable of a promotion push if they click on and off the pitch.
Former Sunderland director Charlie Methven agreed a deal to buy the club this week, subject to EFL approval.
Top-scorer Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has returned to parent club Crystal Palace while 12-goal teenager Miles Leaburn is likely to attract interest.
They are now managed by former Bristol City boss Dean Holden.
The Valley was the only London ground in League One last season but has now been joined by Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road.
LINCOLN CITY, 11TH, 55 miles. P:73. W:33. D:15. L:25
Sincil Bank is one of the closest stadiums to Oakwell in this new League One line-up.
Lincoln, Derby County and Bolton Wanderers are all roughly 44 miles from Barnsley’s ground as the crow flies and about 55 miles on the roads, although Lincoln would take slightly longer to drive to than the others.
City proved difficult opponents for Barnsley in 2022/23 – winning at Oakwell in October to spark a season-changing alteration in the formation, then battling to a point in a dull April 0-0 which all-but ended the Reds’ top two hopes. The Imps will look to kick on in Mark Kennedy’s second season in charge. They were the only younger squad than Barnsley’s in 2022/23.
SHREWSBURY, 12TH, 120 miles. P:44. W:22. D:9. L:13.
Steve Cotterill left his post as manager this week, with confusion surrounding whose decision that was and the reasons for it.
The veteran manager – who was Michael Duff’s mentor at Cheltenham – may now be looking for a tenth EFL club to manage while the Shrews search for a new boss.
The Shropshire outfit are the second-longest serving club in League One currently, having been at that level since 2015.
After they finished third in 2018 and lost the play-off final to Rotherham, they had four seasons of finishing 15th to 18th before flirting briefly with the play-offs this year then falling away.
FLEETWOOD TOWN, 13TH, 93 miles. P:10. W:6. D:2. L:2.
This season will mark ten years in League One for the Cod Army – the longest of any current club at that level.
They have lost in the play-offs for the Championship twice but, a year ago, had only narrowly survived relegation to League Two.
Celtic legend Scott Brown stabilised the club with a solid mid-table finish in his first season.
They are now one of several clubs looking to take the next step towards competing for the top six.
Their Highbury ground is the smallest in League One and seventh smallest in the EFL. They made the most tackles in the division and had the most yellow cards.
EXETER CITY, 14TH. 260 miles. P:22. W:7. D:4. L:11
The Grecians had a positive first season after promotion, including outplaying Barnsley home and away while doing the double.
They are a talented young team but may struggle to hold onto some of their stars such as top-scorer Sam Nombe, loanee Jay Stansfield – who netted three times against the Reds – and their many talented academy products. They released star attacker Jevani Brown who had been suspended since being charged with assault in February.
The trip to Devon remains the longest for the Reds and they will hope to only do it once after Exeter called a game off with three hours notice in January.
CHELTENHAM TOWN. 16TH. 144 miles. P:4. W:3. D:1.
The Robins finished one place and two points below where Michael Duff took them the previous campaign before moving to Barnsley.
Under his former assistant Wade Elliott, they were in relegation trouble for much of the season but lost just two of their last 13 games.
They have already been installed as favourites for relegation but have defied such odds fairly comfortably in the previous two seasons.
A lot may depend on whether they can keep star striker Alfie May who has scored 48 goals across the last two seasons at this level – with clubs already reportedly submitting bids.
BRISTOL ROVERS. 17TH. 185 miles. P:34. W:12. D:10. L:12.
The Gas had a solid season following promotion from League Two.
Joey Barton’s side were in top six contention for the first half of the campaign but fell away after Christmas and collected just two points from their last seven games. They may face a battle to keep hold of forward Aaron Collins who finished last season with 16 goals and 11 assists.
Loan spells with Rovers in 2022 proved good preparation for Barnsley’s Luke Thomas and Bobby Thomas.
The Reds beat them 3-0 at Oakwell in August but were held to a frustrating 0-0 in March.
PORT VALE, 18TH. 66 miles. P:114. W:47: D:20: L:47
David Flitcroft, the former Barnsley manager who is now Vale’s director of football, made a big decision in April to sack manager Darrell Clarke who had led them to promotion the previous season.
They were sliding down the table on a poor run but stayed up under interim manager Andy Crosby whose position has been made permanent.
Vale are the current League One club Barnsley have played the most.
They were the only side to score an equaliser at Oakwell last season, including the Reds, when Ellis Harrison netted late on to make it 1-1 in September.
OXFORD UNITED. 19TH. 155 miles. P:27. W:14. D:6. L:7.
The Us had competed for promotion to the Championship in their previous three seasons – losing a play-off final and semi-final.
But they were in real relegation trouble this year, with long-serving manager Karl Robinson sacked, before staying up by two points under Liam Manning, who narrowly avoided relegating two clubs in a season having started it with MK Dons.
They will now face a battle to keep hold of star players such as Cameron Brannagan.
Oxford made the most fouls in League One in 2022/23.
CAMBRIDGE UNITED, 20TH, 135 miles. P:23. W:11. D:7. L:5
Mark Bonner is the longest-serving manager in League One, having taken over in January 2020. He took the Us up the following year, alongside Duff’s Cheltenham, then stabilised them for a season before completing an unlikely survival last month. They were six points and three places from safety after 37 games but won five of their last nine to stay up on the final day at the expense of MK Dons.
They released former top-scorer Joe Ironside – whose father and grandfather were on Barnsley’s books as goalkeepers – as well as ex-Red George Williams.
Barnsley had men sent off in both meetings with Cambridge last season when 1-0 up, Liam Kitching away and Max Watters at home. But the Reds won 3-0 and 2-0.
LEYTON ORIENT, 1ST in League Two. 183 miles. P:55. W:23. D:10. L:22
The Os won the fourth division under manager Richie Wellens in 2022/23. They finished 12 points clear in the automatic promotion places with 91.
Former Barnsley midfielder George Moncur was one of their star players with nine goals.
Their only meetings with the Reds since 1982 were in the 2014/15 League One season when they lost 2-0 at Oakwell and drew 0-0 at Brisbane Road.
They were relegated that season, having missed out on promotion to the Championship on a penalty shoot-out a year earlier, then dropped into non-league and had to cope with the tragic death of manager Justin Edinburgh just after returning to the EFL.
STEVENAGE. 2ND in L2. 149 miles.
Barnsley have never faced the Hertfordshire club before.
Their manager is lower league veteran Steve Evans whose only meetings with the Reds were in the 2018/19 season when they did the double over his Peterborough side.
He achieved the ninth promotion of his career this year, securing a second spell in League One for Stevenage who almost reached the Championship in 2012 but lost the play-off semi-finals late on to Sheffield United.
They had former Barnsley striker Danny Rose who scored six league goals in 2022/23 but he moved to Grimsby Town this week.
They were the first League One club to make a senior signing this summer, bringing in Nick Freeman who scored a fine goal at Oakwell for Wycombe last season.
NORTHAMPTON TOWN, 3RD in L2. 110 miles. P:24. W:6. D:4. L:14
Michael Duff’s previous play-off heartbreak was against Northampton in 2020 when his Cheltenham side won 2-0 there in the League Two semi-finals but lost 3-0 at home.
He has not faced them since as Town were relegated the next season then returned last month – claiming automatic promotion on the final day.
They have Will Hondermarck who joined from Barnsley in January.
The Reds have a poor record against the Cobblers, losing more than half the meetings, only winning once at Sixfields and being beaten in all four meetings since 1979. They have not been in the same division since 2002/03 but Town won at Oakwell in the EFL Cup in 2016 and Barnsley visited Sixfields to face tenants Coventry City in 2014.
CARLISLE UNITED, 5TH in L2. 145 miles. P:28. W:11. D:6. L:11
A day before Barnsley lost their play-off final, Carlisle won at Wembley on penalties against Stockport County in the League Two final. They netted a late equaliser in normal time through Omari Patrick who spent the 2016/17 season at Barnsley but never made a first team appearance.
That followed another player the Reds released, Jordan Clark, netting in a win for Luton Town in the Championship final the previous day.
The clubs have not met in the league since 1986, but the Cumbrians won 3-0 at Oakwell in the EFL Cup in 2019. The Reds have won just two of the last 15 meetings and have not won at Brunton Park in eight attempts since 1954. Kristian Dennis, their 20-goal top-scorer, turned down a new deal due join League Two Tranmere.