Analysis of Barnsley's final pre-season game – a 2-1 win over League Two Crewe Alexandra. James Norwood and Kacper Lopata netted early in each half before the visitors pulled one back.


The last time Barnsley played at Oakwell, they booked their place at Wembley with a play-off semi-final win over Bolton Wanderers and fans poured onto the pitch.

Ten weeks later, after the final defeat and a busy summer of change, a far smaller crowd witnessed a generally good performance in which their side dominated, played good football and should have won by more.

It was a first taste for Neill Collins of managing Oakwell where he is likely to go through the full gamut of emotions in the dugout this season.

They were more expansive in their passing out from the back and slightly more aggressive in their press than last season.

But it is difficult to tell if that is because they were playing a side from the division below who were second best for the majority of the game.


Callum Styles played at number ten as he continues his pre-season with Barnsley following a loan at Millwall last season and with his future uncertain.

Playing in attacking midfield, he regularly opened Crewe up with good touches, passes and pieces of skill.

He looked a class above as you would expect from an international footballer and Championship regular – also making some good tackles tracking back and looking like a leader.

By all accounts his attitude since returning to training this summer has been excellent and he is expected to start the season in the Barnsley team.

He clearly has ambitions above League One but so far no club has come close to hitting the £2million release clause.

He is a perfect replacement in at least the first three games, for the suspended Adam Phillips. But, once Phillips is back, midfield is a packed area while Nicky Cadden appears to have Styles’ other position of left wing-back locked down.

Another loan like last season is possible near the end of the window, with Styles thought to be one of the better earners at the club.

You can never have enough good players while Styles, Phillips, Luca Connell and Herbie Kane would be excellent midfield options in the third tier.

Jon Russell is another talent but is yet to show his full potential. He had only just returned for pre-season after international duty and looked behind on match fitness despite winning numerous free-kick.

Theo Chapman, 18, came on for Russell at half-time and looked tidy at times but also lost the ball in a key area.

Left wing-back Cadden also stood out – opening Crewe up with clever passing and running past players. He was involved in both goals and several other chances.


James Norwood again looked a real handful for the opposing defence, running powerfully onto long balls, playing deft passes and finishing well for the opener.

He has scored four goals in pre-season, while looking lean and sharp.

He adds leadership, experience and energy up front as well as quality.

Norwood’s future is unclear with reports of a possible move away and uncertainty about how he, who turns 33 in September, fits into the club’s policy of developing talent when there are younger strikers on long deals.


Barnsley’s back three was, from right to left, Jordan Williams, usually a right wing-back, new signing Kacper Lopata and captain Liam Kitching.

They were untested for long spells but conceded a poor goal midway through the second half.

After risky passes by goalkeeper Liam Roberts and Herbie Kane, Williams lost the ball and Shilow Tracey was played clean through to score.

There were other scares too and it remains to be seen how ready that back three is to keep out League One attacks week in, week out.

There are players to come back from injury and at least one new signing on the horizon, but the back three is clearly the least proven area of the team.

Lopata was dominant in the air, including heading in Cadden free-kick for 2-0 early in the second half, and is likely to make his EFL debut against Port Vale on Saturday.


It has been an usual pre-season.

The Reds have pulled out of two games, choosing to give head coach Neill Collins extra time with his squad on the training pitch.

Three friendlies have been played behind-closed-doors, including the rained-off visit to Fylde and the home match with Blackburn which was moved from Oakwell’s main pitch to one of the Lancashire club’s training grounds.

They were beaten 9-1 by Leeds then also defeated by Championship clubs Hull and Blackburn, before beating Crewe.

None of it gives us much of clue of how they will fair in League One but, with the manager and key players leaving, it has been far from a settled summer – the impact of which will have to be assessed in the coming comings.