At look at next season’s third tier after the play-off finals which the Reds just missed out on

BIRMINGHAM CITY. Last season: 22nd in Championship. Miles from Oakwell: 96. Reds record: P:87. W:26. D:21. L:40.

The Blues have been installed as favourites by many bookmakers to win League One next season.

They finished 16th or below in eight successive Championship seasons and finally went down this month, so are in the third tier for the first time since 1994/95.

They had sacked John Eustace in October when sixth, and replaced him with Wayne Rooney who won two of 15 games and was sacked in January. Tony Mowbray took over but had to take time off for medical treatment and interim boss Gary Rowett could not keep them up.

Mowbray has confirmed he will not be returning.

Their squad last season contained ten full internationals and plenty of experience in the top two divisions.

They released several of them this week including former Barnsley players Marc Roberts and Gary Gardner.

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HUDDERSFIELD TOWN. 23rd in Championship. 18 miles. P:79. W:29. D:16. L:34.

The Terriers dropped back into League One after 12 years away, including two in the Premier League.

They have appointed Michael Duff who took Barnsley to the play-off final a year ago and will be expected to reach the Championship this time.

He has been reunited with Michal Helik but, like when at Oakwell with him in the summer of 2022, the Poland defender is expected to attract bids this summer having scored nine goals and been named Player of the Year.

It will be a short trip to West Yorkshire for the Reds, and a return to the ground where they were relegated from the Championship two years ago.

Barnsley have not played a Yorkshire rival since losing to Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley.

ROTHERHAM UNITED. 24th in Championship. 12 miles. P:54. W:23: D:14. L:17.

Rotherham finished 24 points off safety at the bottom of the Championship, winning five of 46 games.

They will now look for a fourth promotion in as many League One seasons but, instead of Paul Warne who achieved the previous three, they have Steve Evans in charge once again. They have also brought back Jonson Clarke-Harris from Peterborough who has 107 League One goals, as well as Joe Rafferty from Portsmouth, Reece James from Wednesday and Shaun McWilliams from Northampton.

Goalkeeper Viktor Johansson has joined Stoke City.

Despite both bouncing between the second and third tiers across most of the last two decades, Barnsley and their neighbours Rotherham have only been in the same division twice since 2005. Going back further, it has only happened in four campaigns since 1983.

The Millers have not beaten the Reds in 11 meetings since 1982, losing eight including the last four, while they have not won in 14 visits to Oakwell since 1970.

BOLTON WANDERERS. 3rd in League One. 55 miles. P:51. W:15. D:17. L:19.

The Trotters remain in the third tier after a 2-0 loss to Oxford United in Saturday’s play-off final.

They had beaten the Us 5-0 two months earlier but did not have a shot on target at Wembley, with manager Ian Evatt saying they needed to do ‘a lot of soul searching’.

For the second season in a row, Bolton, Barnsley and Peterborough all lost in the play-offs.

Wanderers – who almost blew a 5-2 lead against Barnsley in the semi-final – will be one of the favourites again if they can shake off the disappointment quickly.

The Reds and Bolton will have met at least 11 times in less than three years by the end of next season.

PETERBOROUGH UNITED. 4th. 100 miles. P:44. W:17. D:7. L:20.

Like Barnsley, the Posh suffered a second successive play-off defeat earlier this month.

Although not as shocking as Sheffield Wednesday’s comeback from 4-0 down last year, the 2-1 loss to Oxford United will have been deeply disappointing.

Darren Ferguson’s side had a very clear identity.

They had the most shots in League One, made the most passes, had the best pass completion rate and the most possession.

The veteran manager is in his fourth spell as Posh boss and has taken charge of them in more than 600 games.

They have already lost captain Ephron Mason-Clark to Coventry City while players such as Ronnie Edwards and Harrison Burrows are thought to be of interest to clubs in higher leagues.

LINCOLN CITY. 7TH. 55 miles. P:75. W:33. D:16. L:26

Michael Skubala’s side enjoyed a superb 2024, going unbeaten in 16 to charge into the play-off picture.

But they lost their final two home games, slipping out of the top six on the final day having missed a penalty to take the lead against Portsmouth who won 2-0.

If they can keep the majority of their talented young squad – including the highly-rated former Barnsley loanee Ethan Erhahon – they could be in contention for promotion again next season.

The Reds were humiliated 5-1 at home to the Imps in March, their biggest ever third tier defeat at Oakwell, while they have not won in ten league meetings across more than half a century.

BLACKPOOL. 8th. 88 miles. P:108. W:46. D:25. L:37.

The atmosphere in the away end turned extremely toxic when Barnsley went 3-0 down at Bloomfield Road in their final away league game of the season last month.

Despite two late consolation goals, Neill Collins was loudly booed at full-time when he tried to applaud the Reds fans who would never see him again as he was sacked two days later with one league match remaining.

Blackpool could have overtaken the Reds and finished sixth but lost their final game.They will be looking to improve on that but may have to replace key loan players such as Karamoko Dembele, George Byers and Hayden Coulson. Blackpool are the team in next season’s League One that Barnsley have played against the most.

STEVENAGE. 9th, 149 miles. P:2. W:1. L:1.

Barnsley will have no new grounds to visit in League One this season, after making their first trips to Stevenage in 2024. The match was called off controversially late in January the Reds then were beaten 2-1 in April by a side who had not won in eight.

The Hertfordshire club were in contention for back to back promotions for most of the season before falling away. Steve Evans left with two games remaining to rejoin Rotherham United and was replaced by his first team coach Alex Revell who was previously Stevenage manager for almost two years in 2020 and 2021, leaving them in a relegation battle in League Two. He may have to freshen up one of the oldest squads in the division who played in a very direct way under Evans.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS, 10th, 171 miles. P:12. W:7. D:3. L:2.

Barnsley’s 4-2 win at Adams Park on March 2 was arguably the last of the good times under Neill Collins.

After that game, the Reds were fourth and two points off second-placed Derby with two games in hand, and had lost just once in 19 league games.

But what immediately followed was a run of just nine points from 11 games which led to Collins’ sacking.

The Chairboys themselves had a mixed first full season under the management of Matt Bloomfield.

They conceded a last-minute winner to Peterborough at Wembley in the EFL Trophy final but – after that Barnsley defeat – lost just one of their last 11 league games and finished in the top ten.

LEYTON ORIENT. 11th, 183 miles. P:57. W:24. D:11. L:22

Barnsley have collected red cards in each of their four meetings with the London club since the 1980s.

Ross Turnbull and Milan Lalkovic were dismissed in the 2014/15 campaign then Sam Cosgrove and Luca Connell received late second yellows in the season which has just finished. Connell’s red came between two late Adam Phillips goals in a remarkable turnaround from 1-0 down on 88 minutes to win 2-1 in February at Oakwell. Orient finished comfortably in mid-table after promotion from League Two, under Richie Wellens who was briefly linked to the Barnsley job before signing a new long-term contract.

The Reds are unbeaten against Orient since 1970 but have only met them six times in that period.

WIGAN ATHLETIC. 12th. 62 miles. P:18. W:5. D:7. L:6

The Latics are one of the clubs expected to build on a mid-table finish and challenge for the top six next season.

They might have been in contention for promotion this season if they had not been docked eight points which meant they were never really close to the top six, and finished 14 points away.

After relegation last year and the exit of most of their squad, the Latics appear to have put their off-field problems behind them under the ownership of local businessman Mike Danson and management of Shaun Maloney who has impressed with a young squad.

Wigan’s only defeat at Oakwell came in the FA Cup in 1954, after which they are unbeaten there in nine visits, drawing the last four.

EXETER CITY. 13th. 260 miles. P:24. W:8. D:4. L:12

The Grecians finished the season as League One’s form side.They were unbeaten in eight, with six wins, before losing on the final day to Oxford United who needed the points to reach the top six.

After they kept faith with Gary Caldwell during a 13-game winless run up until Boxing Day, they took 42 points from their last 25 games, which would see them in promotion contention if they can repeat it next season. Exeter will look to add more goals after midfielder Reece Cole was top-scorer with seven.

Once again the trip to Devon will be Barnsley’s longest of the season and they hope for a much smoother journey home than in October when their coach was engulfed in flames on the M5.

NORTHAMPTON TOWN. 14th. 110 miles. P:26. W:7. D:5. L:14

The Cobblers’ 96th-minute equaliser on the final day of the league season could have gone down in Oakwell infamy if other results had not meant that the Reds qualified for the League One play-offs anyway.

Northampton have a good record against Barnsley, winning more than half of the meetings, while they are unbeaten at Oakwell in their last five visits.

Jon Brady’s side had a strong first season in League One after promotion and were in mid-table for almost all of it.

Many of their loan stars are likely to leave and they have been made one of the favourites by most bookmakers to be relegated next season.

BRISTOL ROVERS. 15th, 185 miles. P:36. W:13. D:11. L:12.

The Gas have finished 17th and 15th since being promoted from League Two in 2022.

They sacked Joey Barton last season and replaced him with former Exeter City and Rotherham United manager – as well as Penistone Cricket Club batter – Matt Taylor.

Their only win in ten games against the Reds across more than 30 years was on the final day of the 2018/19 League One campaign when Daniel Stendel’s side were already promoted then celebrated with the away fans.

They outplayed Barnsley in a 1-1 draw in August then lost 2-1 at Oakwell in January.

New Barnsley boss Darrell Clarke was their manager for five years and won promotion twice.

CHARLTON ATHLETIC. 16th, 190 miles. P:56. W:18. D:16. L:22.

The Addicks appear to have the raw materials to make a run at promotion next season.

They have more stability behind the scenes after a series of unpopular owners.

They appointed former Luton boss Nathan Jones who took them out of trouble after they were only out of the relegation zone on goal difference in early 2024.

Charlton also have League One’s top-scorer Alfie May plus a series of highly-rated youngsters.

An 18-game winless run was followed by 14 matches unbeaten under Jones, although many of them were drawn. Their only victory in the last eight games of the season was a 2-1 home win over Barnsley.

READING. 17th. 190 miles. P:82. W:27: D: 23. L:32.

The Royals helped the Reds into the play-offs by beating Blackpool on the final day.

Ruben Selles and his young squad were already safe by that point, having faced points deductions and financial crisis.

They all-but secured safety at Oakwell on April 13 which proved to be Neill Collins’ final game there.

That stretched Reading’s unbeaten run at Oakwell to 12 games since 1998 although they did suffer a rare loss to them at home.

They are still owned by controversial owner Dai Yongge despite reports of an attempted sale.

CAMBRIDGE UNITED. 18th. 135 miles. P:25. W:12. D:7. L:6

The Us arrived at Oakwell on Good Friday having taken a point and scored two goals in their previous seven games, but won 2-0 after Mael de Gevigney’s bizarre own goal opened the scoring. That was one of the real low points in Barnsley’s awful end of the season and one of just two wins from Cambridge’s last 15 games.

They mathematically could have gone down on the final day but got the point they needed with a goalless draw at relegated Port Vale. Despite having one of the more high-profile managers in the division in former Barnsley defender Garry Monk, they are currently one of the favourites for relegation next season.

SHREWSBURY TOWN. 19th. 110 miles. P:46. W:23. D:10. L:13

No side in the top seven divisions of English football netted fewer league goals than the Shrews last season.

They scored just 35 in 46 games and finished four points clear of danger after not winning in their last seven.

After Fleetwood’s relegation, the Shropshire club will be the longest-serving in League One with next season being their tenth in a row at that level.

But they face off the field issues after posting multi-million losses and currently having just nine senior players on their books. Their last win over Barnsley was in 2018 when Daniel Stendel’s side were bullied in a 3-1 away loss.

BURTON ALBION, 20TH, 65 miles. P:13. W:6. D:4. L:3.

The Brewers survived relegation on the final day as, despite a 3-0 loss at relegated Fleetwood, Cheltenham could not win and overtake them.

They had won two vital matches late on after a run of two points from ten games.

Martin Paterson, the former Reds assistant, was appointed in January until the end of the season but looks set to leave this summer.

Barnsley did the double over Burton last season but it was at the Pirelli Stadium last month that the first chants for Neill Collins’ sacking were heard, with the club obliging three weeks later.

STOCKPORT COUNTY. 1st in League Two. 37 miles. P:93. W:32. D:32. L:29.

The Cheshire club sank down to the sixth tier, the Conference North, last decade and turned part-time.

But last month they celebrated a third promotion five years.

While not as globally well-known as Wrexham, who they beat to the title, they are also very ambitious with local businesses and owner Mark Stott on record of wanting to reach the Championship by 2027 – 25 years after falling out of it.

The Reds have played Stockport 93 times but not in almost 20 years since January 2005.

The trip to Edgeley Park should be Barnsley’s shortest next season other than Yorkshire derbies.

Darrell Clarke had a very brief loan spell there as a player.

WREXHAM. 2nd in L2. 86 miles. P:32. W:12. D:8. L:12.

Barnsley and Wrexham have met 32 times but there has never been an away win, with each winning 12 and drawing four at home.

The Welsh club are arguably the most internationally famous outfit in the division, having been taken over by American actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny then featuring in TV series Welcome to Wrexham. They spent 15 years in the National League, finishing 19th in 2020, but have achieved back to back promotions and are among the favourites with many bookmakers to get a third next season.

They are expected to add to a squad which currently includes ex-Red Elliott Lee – who netted 16 goals and added six assists last season – plus former Premier League regulars James McClean and Steven Fletcher.

MANSFIELD TOWN. 3rd in L2. 40 miles. P:35. W:14. D:11. L:10

The Stags went up under Nigel Clough who is now the second longest-serving manager at any League One club behind Bolton’s Ian Evatt.

They were helped to promotion by ex-Red George Williams as well as former Oakwell academy products Scott Flinders, Rhys Oates and George Maris.

They have already made an eye-catching signing by bringing in veteran striker Lee Gregory from Sheffield Wednesday, who has five goals against Barnsley and was at the centre of the VAR controversies in last year’s play-off final. This will be Mansfield’s third season in the third tier since 1980, having been relegated after one year in both 1993 and 2003. They won at Oakwell in that last season which is their most recent meeting. New Reds boss Darrell Clarke is from Mansfield.

CRAWLEY TOWN. 7th in L2. 220 miles. P:2. W:0. D:0. L:2.

Reds fans will have bad memories of meeting the Sussex club in the 2014/15 season.

Crawley won 1-0 at Oakwell in the opening game, with Dale Jennings sent off, then battered the Reds 5–1 on Valentine’s Day with Mark Burton in charge after Danny Wilson’s sacking. Crawley were relegated that year then did not finish above 12th in League Two until this season under Scott Lindsey who stopped them being relegated to non-league football a year earlier.

Goalkeeper Corey Addai – who spent the 2020/21 season with Barnsley under 21s before a brief spell at their then sister club Esbjerg – saved a penalty in the 8-1 play-off semi-final win over MK Dons then kept a clean sheet at Wembley against Crewe Alexandra in a 2-0 win.