Alex Mowatt on Barnsley FC continuing to be 'horrible'

BARNSLEY captain Alex Mowatt has stressed that the Reds will not be 'making up the numbers' ahead of the club's first play-off campaign at second-tier level for 21 years.

The Reds host Swansea City in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at Oakwell on Monday evening, with head coach Valerien Ismael believing that his team are the underdogs to win the end-of-season lottery behind Swansea, Brentford and Bournemouth.

The Swans - who welcome their Yorkshire opponents in the second leg in South Wales on Saturday - are the only Championship side who did the double over Barnsley in the regular season, while the Bees and the Cherries have both beaten the Reds this season.

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But Mowatt insists that Barnsley - who also beat Brentford and Bournemouth in 2020-21 - are fighting to go 'all the way' as the club seeks to be promoted to the top-flight for just the second time in their history, with the first occasion arriving in memorable and stirring fashion in 1996-97.

TOGETHER: Barnsley FC captain Alex Mowatt embraces head coach Valerien Ismael.TOGETHER: Barnsley FC captain Alex Mowatt embraces head coach Valerien Ismael.
TOGETHER: Barnsley FC captain Alex Mowatt embraces head coach Valerien Ismael.

The Reds' tale under Ismael has undeniably proved to be one of the most uplifting stories of the EFL season, with the club's players having kicked on in magnificent fashion after being only minutes away from relegation at the end of last term.

Speaking ahead of Monday's first leg - and whether there will be some final words of inspiration ahead of kick-off - talisman captain Mowatt said: "We'll do it the way we usually do, with the gaffer getting us all going with the team talk.

"It's a massive achievement for all of us really. It's a massive game, we've put ourselves in an unbelievable position and we need to keep our performances high and see where that takes us.

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" We set our standards high, we want to go all the way. We're not just making up the numbers.

"I don't think any other teams would want to play us to be honest, they all like to play football but we can be horrible to play against."

Believing that the Reds' two defeats in the regular season to Swansea will count for little, he added: "They didn't carve us open, it was set piece goals and a bad mistake at the back so if we concentrate on set pieces, we should be all right.

"We're a different team to when we played them. We've been on some unbelievable runs since and we're a lot different to back then."

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The tie pits Mowatt with the player who he was brought into replace at Barnsley in Conor Hourihane and provides a compelling subplot ahead of an absorbing tie against two sides who appear to be well-matched on paper.

On potential similarities between former Reds captain and favourite Hourihane, sold to Aston Villa in January 2016 and Mowatt, who joined Barnsley from Leeds United on the very next day, the current Oakwell captain continued: "He was class at Barnsley and played in the Premier League for Villa and has done really well.

"I don't really see many similarities to be honest. I suppose we're both left footed and both not very quick! Those are the similarities, along with the set pieces as well.

"He's been promoted to the Premier League and we'd like to do the same.

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"We've put ourselves in this position, but we want to go all the way now.

"It'd be unbelievable to get into the Premier League given where we were last season. No-one expected it at the start of the season and we've got to enjoy the play-offs."

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