BARNSLEY are set to host their biggest game of the season so far when Derby County visit Oakwell on Saturday.

The Reds are two places and six points behind the Rams who occupy the second automatic promotion place and have played an extra game.

While Barnsley have lost two in 22 league games, with 12 wins and eight draws – for 44 points at two per game – Derby’s last 19 matches have brought 45 points with 14 wins, three draws and two losses.

County have conceded just three goals in the last seven and have the best defensive record in the division with 29 let in in 33 games. In attack, they have a series of injuries but brought in veteran striker Dwight Gayle this week. They won 1-0 at home to fellow promotion-challengers Stevenage on Saturday with a 90th-minute goal.

The Rams have the best away record in League One with 35 points from 17 games – a tally only bettered in English professional football by their neighbours Leicester City who top the Championship – and the most away goals in the division with 30.

Barnsley are not far behind with 33 from 16 away games but their total of 27 points from 16 home games so far is the tenth most in the division. Their next two home games against Derby then Bolton Wanderers – six points above from the same number of games – may decide if they are still in the top two hunt. So far they have not beaten any of the current top four this season.


The Reds were humbled 3-0 at Pride Park on November 11. It is Barnsley’s only away defeat in the league this season and the only time they have not scored on the road in all competitions under Neill Collins who has said it is the one time his players didn’t keep going until the end.

Since then, the Reds have scored in 19 consecutive games in all competitions.

Derby crosses and long balls into the box caused chaos with Jordan Williams conceding a penalty before two free-kicks by ex-Red goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith created scrambles which led to goals. That was the last of five defeats from five meetings with the teams who were in the top eight for most of the season but, since then, they have beaten Stevenage and Oxford and gained impressive draws at Peterborough and Bolton.

Derby’s opener was in the fourth minute and no club has conceded more in the first 15 minutes than Barnsley with ten – something they will be desperately hoping to avoid this time.


This weekend’s game will be one day shy of a year since Derby were thrashed 4-1 at Oakwell.

It was a huge match for Michael Duff’s Reds who would beat a series of other top teams on a magical run to cement a place in the top six which Derby dropped out of on the last day.

The Reds were excellent, pressing their overwhelmed visitors into errors as they netted three times in the first half.

It will be interesting to see if Derby try to play out like that again or go more direct.

There have been glimpses of that sort of performance from Collins’ team in away games at high-flying duo Peterborough and Bolton post-Christmas, delivering two good performances but losing leads in draws.

The Reds made a big effort for the fixture last season to drive up the attendance and atmosphere with many of the 17,145 crowd responding to the call to wear Barnsley scarves.

Adam Phillips won a sliding tackle after 15 seconds then Liam Kitching sent Jason Knight pirouetting into the air with a tackle that went viral, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

The home supporters had plenty to cheer and the large away end was soon silenced – a recipe the Reds will hope to repeat this time.

Oakwell seemed more positive and noisy in the previous game against Leyton Orient, even before the incredible late turnaround, and it could go up another level for this promotion showdown.

Rams boss Paul Warne – who is looking for a fourth promotion out of League One after three with Rotherham – has lost his only two games at Oakwell as a manager, a 1-0 defeat with the Millers in 2021 and last year’s thrashing.


Derby have several former Barnsley players.

Conor Hourihane, the legendary Reds captain, had been a regular in their midfield and, like most of their squad, has spent much of his career in the Championship and Premier League. But he was an unused substitute at the weekend.

They also have former Reds loanees Joe Wildsmith – who has been the first choice goalkeeper – as well as left-back Callum Elder and midfielder Korey Smith.

This will be the 79th meeting of the two clubs with Barnsley winning 23 and losing 38.

Derby have won four of the last five meetings but have not won at Oakwell in their last four visits since 2017, losing the last two. They have won three of their last 17 games in Barnsley.