NEILL Collins knows League One’s form side Leyton Orient will be coming to Oakwell today to draw Barnsley back into a fight for the play-off places, but is only looking up the table.
The Reds drew 1-1 at fellow promotion-chasers Bolton Wanderers on Saturday so are fifth in League One, two points clear in the top six, ten off leaders Portsmouth who have played two extra games and six off second-placed Derby County who have played one more.
Despite yesterday’s snow, the club were hopeful the game would be on.
Orient, last year’s League Two champions, are seven points off the top six in ninth. They are unbeaten in eight with six wins, including a 3-0 success at leaders Portsmouth and a 1-0 home win over Bolton. This week they won 3-2 at home to lowly Carlisle United on Saturday then won 1-0 at another relegation-battler Port Vale on Tuesday.
They have won four of their last six away games and only lost one of ten since September.
Richie Wellens’ side have collected more points away than at home this season while 20 of their 34 goals have been away from Brisbane Road.
They are the only team in League One who have not lost after taking the lead this season, winning 12 and drawing four of their 16 matches in which they have gone ahead.
Collins told the Chronicle: “Everyone right now, especially Orient on the run they are on, has something to play for.
“I am sure they are full of confidence and see it as a big one to draw us back in but we’re not looking behind us, we’re looking ahead of us.
“We’re looking at winning the next game to try to catch the teams above us.”
Collins added: “They are a very good side on very good form. They are really consistent and play good football, creating a lot of chances.
“Every game is tough – but this is exceptionally tough.
“We generally get people’s best at Oakwell. If we follow up our performance against Bolton, it will be a good game.”
Barnsley’s nine-game unbeaten home run ended in their last game there – a 2-1 home loss to Exeter City two weeks ago.
They have the tenth best home record in the division while only the bottom three and Charlton Athletic have conceded more home goals than Barnsley’s 19.
Their first half performances in their last two home games, against Exeter and Carlisle, have been extremely poor but they were impressive in a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
“We had a period where we were starting games excellently.
“But it’s spun on its head. I will just address it with the players, do all the right things and prepare them.
“Every team says they want to start games well, we need to see what we need to do to make sure that happens and prepare for Saturday.”
He added: “I would like to have the players’ attitude and mentality from Bolton every week, there was a lot of quality in there too.
“Peterborough (a 2-2 away draw on December 29) wasn’t too dissimilar. I thought that was as good as Bolton.
“We’ve started showing that more regularly. The challenge is to do it again and again. We want to give our home fans a performance like that.
“I am sure they will be behind us, especially if we play like we did on Saturday.
“The 1,500 at Bolton were fantastic.
“If we can bring that out more often than not here, it will be a really difficult place for teams to come from now until the end of the season.”
The reverse fixture was a 1-1 draw in October with Joe Pigott scoring a first half penalty after a controversial handball decision against Jamie McCart who had spent part of last season on loan at Orient. Herbie Kane scored a fine long-range leveller then Sam Cosgrove was sent off late on.
Ex-Red George Moncur has been in and out of the Orient team this season, making 28 league appearances and scoring one goal.
The two clubs have met 56 times, with Barnsley losing 22 and winning 23.
The Reds are unbeaten in the last five while Orient have not scored from open play in any of the three meetings this century.
The Os’ last win at Barnsley was in 1969 but they have only visited twice since, losing in 1981 and 2014 – with the latter seeing Devante Cole and Conor Hourihane net first half goals for Danny Wilson’s Reds.