Barnsley FC boss Poya Asbaghi places all pressure on Middlesbrough FC

PRESSURE is all relative, according to Poya Asbaghi.

His Barnsley side have given themselves a faint sniff of survival after two Championship wins in their past three matches, including a much-needed away success at Hull City, the Reds’ first on the road since last April.

Standing in their way of recording back-to-back league wins for the first time this term on Saturday is a Middlesbrough side who head to Oakwell needing points for entirely different reasons. Boro are among a number of runners and riders, including Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United, who are pitted in an intense fight to the finish in a compelling play-off race. They will be backed by almost 5,000 fans on Saturday and will be expected to deliver.

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Asbaghi said: “We have had pressure in every game since I arrived that if we lose, we are out of the race if you listen to everybody else.

Barnsley manager Poya Asbaghi during the Sky Bet Championship match at MKM Stadium, Hull. (Picture: PA)

“Of course, we have always felt that pressure, but the pressure is on both sides (on Saturday).

“I don’t think anyone is expecting, outside of Barnsley, us to even grab a point here.

“So I would say even if we know our situation and know we need to win the game, the expectations are definitely on Middlesbrough.”

Given recent victories at Hull and against QPR, Asbaghi believes his side are in as a good a shape as any to take on a Boro side who have proved to be the form team over the winter, alongside Town and the Blades.

Barnsley manager Poya Asbaghi has overseen two wins in three games (Picture: PA)

“It is a great test and one of the bigger tests we have left in our schedule,” he said.

“Middlesbrough have players and form and are well-structured. But the game comes at a good time for us. If it came a couple of weeks ago, the challenge would be a little bit different.

“We are having more confidence now in the season. If we are about to play this team, I guess the timing is perfect.”

Asbaghi is also safe in the knowledge that while he has a relatively young squad at his disposal, a number have successful ‘previous’ in the survival stakes, having played a part in Barnsley’s remarkable ‘Great Escape’ in the final third of the 2019-20 campaign.

He continued: “It always helps and the experience is always good if you learn how to use it.

“We have young players in the Championship, but also have some young players who have been in this situation before and of course, their experience is something we definitely need to take advantage of.”