WHEN it comes to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Lloyd Isgrove can consider himself somewhat of a lucky charm.
A competition winner during a temporary spell with Peterborough United in the Spring of 2014, the Barnsley winger appreciates he has the potential to perform a repeat feat while at another loan destination.
But for Isgrove, brought in from Southampton, it is a case of first things first, with Fleetwood Town having to be negotiated in the northern section final before Reds supporters can start booking hotels near Wembley for the first weekend in April.
Also there is the not inconsequential factor of his own future, with the 22-year-old mindful that some positive performances this month could go a long way towards securing a loan extension for the rest of the campaign –Reds head coach Lee Johnson has said as much.
Plenty to play for then for Isgrove who has three more chances to impress this month, starting with today’s final first leg with the decisive second leg taking place on February 2, just after his current loan spell expires.
Despite the importance of the here and now, Isgrove admits another Wembley appearance in the JPT final would be just the ticket after helping Posh to a 3-1 win over Chesterfield in March 2014.
After all, it is not often that players sample the highs of Wembley glory on loan at one club, let alone potentially two.
Isgrove said: “The final was only my second or third game at Peterborough and you are only allowed five on the bench. In the back of my head, I was thinking that I was not going to get a chance. But I played the last 15 or 20 minutes.
“I had all my family there, which was nice. It was just the whole day really that was special with all the fans and we brought such a good following.
“That was a good experience for me. I kind of got a taste then and know what it feels like. I am playing here now and it would be great to get there with Barnsley.
“It is one of those one-off things that you take as it comes and just enjoy the day and match and hopefully win because you don’t want to be a loser at Wembley.
“I also went when Southampton won it (in 2010) and was in the stands. I was in the youth team then and that was also a good day for the club.”
Admitting that doing well in the coming weeks, and potentially helping to book and be part of another Wembley adventure, is a prime motivation, Isgrove added: “It is a carrot for me as I am only here for the first leg as the other two are league games.
“We’ll have to see. You only remember the players in the final and the ones who pick up the medals.”
While the tie between these League One clubs looks too close to call, what can be definitively said is that Barnsley head into today’s first leg against their visitors in far ruder health than they did when the Lancastrian club last came to Oakwell.
That was on October 24 when the ravaged Reds were in an atrocious run of autumnal form that plumbed the depths, an occasion that Isgrove is well minded to forget.
The winger made a low-key debut with Fleetwood winning 1-0.
The brittle outfit who took the field that day have had a makeover since, if not a full-blown one, with Johnson’s side heading into the game on the back of successive home league wins and just one defeat in six outings.
As form goes, it is far removed from October when their form was abysmal, and they have the opportunity to underscore their progress since – and move a step closer to their first Wembley appearance since April 2008.
Isgrove added: “We are going to have to play to our very best to beat them.
“But if we just play as we have done in the last two games and the fans get behind, I think we will be alright.
“With the players here, we always had in the back of our minds that we could get out of this.
“It was just a case of when we were going to get a bit of luck and start getting results. Hopefully, we can push on from the last two results we have had at home.
“The lads have been saying that we won’t get a better chance to get to Wembley than Fleetwood home and away.
“We are really looking forward to this one and hope we can give something back to the fans with a trip to Wembley.”