Barnsley on the cusp of going straight back up - big-match verdict

Match-winner: Barnsley's Liam Lindsey is congratulated by Mike Bahre after scoring the winner at Oakwell.
Match-winner: Barnsley's Liam Lindsey is congratulated by Mike Bahre after scoring the winner at Oakwell.
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History repeating itself does not concern Barnsley head coach Daniel Stendel one iota.

All he is thinking about is making it automatic for the people, to borrow REM’s famous album title.

The Reds certainly did not blink in their last home assignment, going through an Oakwell league campaign unbeaten for just the third time in the club’s history and the first since the 1967-68 season.

Then Johnny Steele’s side finished runners-up in Division Four to the team who can again pip Barnsley to the title this time, Luton Town.

Champions, runners-up or a meeting with their neighbours are the scenarios that remain for Barnsley after they went joint top with the Hatters, but with a worse goal difference of four with one game remaining.

Both could be promoted without playing should chasers Portsmouth and Sunderland, who drew 1-1 at the Stadium of Light, fail to win their games in hand tomorrow.

Portsmouth entertain a Peterborough side who could still dislodge Barnsley’s neighbours Doncaster from the final play-off spot – the team finishing third being their semi-final opponents.

Sunderland, who seem virtually out of automatic promotion reckoning due to their inferior goal difference, head to Fleetwood Town, so will Joey Barton do Barnsley an ironic favour following the recent Oakwell tunnel incident?

After a deserved lap of honour around the ground following the 2-1 win over Blackpool, Stendel was questioned on what it would mean to lift the title following Luton’s defeat to Burton Albion.

“I have always said that we play for automatic promotion and if we are promoted in second place then it does not matter,” said the German tasked with taking Barnsley straight back up to the Championship.

“We now have the chance to decide how the season ends. It is the best situation for us having worked so hard for 45 games. We want to win that last step.”

Regarding the midweek games, he continued: “I am assuming we will get the chance on Saturday at Bristol Rovers, as other things we cannot influence.

“This has been our fortress at home and the supporters have helped us develop so much power at home. I am very proud. It has resulted from hard work and a good mentality and team work. Everyone in the club has been all together.”

Stendel admitted to being surprised by the identity of Barnsley’s match-winner against Blackpool. They had gone behind in the 15th minute when Jordan Williams diverted a shot from Harry Pritchard into his own net.

Cauley Woodrow rifled in his 16th league goal of the campaign to match the tally of Kieffer Moore – both strikers having missed chunks of the season through injury – to make it 1-1 at the break.

Central defender Liam Lindsay then raced in to head home an inswinging corner from Cameron McGeehan in the 56th minute and the only surprise was that no more goals were added by the dominant Reds with Moore, on for hamstring victim Jacob Brown, squandering the easiest.

Lindsay’s was his first League One goal for Barnsley, having arrived from Partick with a decent scoring record in the Scottish Premiership two years ago.

“This (Lindsay’s goal) was a big surprise for us on the bench,” said Stendel of a defender who has scored three goals in 89 games for the club. “We celebrated it more in the dressing room after the game. Our centre-backs have been so good defending, but not in scoring,” he added with Lindsay’s partner Ethan Pinnock having found the net just once.

“But I am happy and we have one game left and we need a similar performance and a win at Bristol to get automatically promoted.”

Lindsay emerged to admit: “It’s been frustrating not to get a goal, to be fair, having come down off the back of a good season for goals.

“I thought it would continue, but I think scoring that goal means people will let me off a wee bit. That was a perfect, perfect end to the game for me.

“It was also a perfect Saturday. I couldn’t believe it when I heard about all the other results. The job is not done yet, but this has given us confidence. We will be confident going into the Bristol game. I think we will organise something between us to watch how Tuesday’s games go on.

“We coped with a big game and I am sure we will do the same at Bristol although it will be tough and hard-fought.

“It has been brilliant to go through the season unbeaten at home. We said at the start that we wanted to make this a fortress so I think we have done that.

“We had been a goal down before and had come back so we had confidence in ourselves although it gave us a kick when that opening goal went in.”

Barnsley: Davies, Williams, Pinnock, Lindsay, Pinillos; McGeehan, Mowatt; Brown (Moore 45), Bahre (Styles 90), Thiam (Hedges 88), Woodrow. Unused substitutes: Fryers, Walton, Green, Jackson.

Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Nottingham, Heneghan, Tilt, Bola; Thompson, Spearing, Pritchard (Long 85), Kirby (Delfouneso 46); Evans (Feeney 60), Gnanduillet. Unused substitutes: Boney, Anderton, Ryan, Guy.

Refereee: J Busby (Oxon).