Barnsley v Bradford City – Kieffer Moore aims to make it third time lucky

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CLIMBING aboard an open-top bus and participating in those traditional Champagne-drenched scenes that accompany promotion would be extra special to Kieffer Moore.

The Barnsley striker has witnessed many colleagues close to him sample those joyous May occasions not once, but twice in recent times and would dearly love his own fill come late Spring.

Moore’s tally of 13 goals in 22 appearances in a memorable loan spell with the Reds’ neighbours Rotherham United in the first half of last season helped lay a firm foundation for the Millers’ successful campaign which culminated in League One play-off glory at Wembley at the end of 2017-18.

The Devonian would have been forgiven for feeling a spot of envy as the Millers effectively swapped places with Barnsley, the club he joined permanently a year ago.

Back in the previous campaign of 2016-17, Moore spent an early-season loan stint at another side who were destined to be promoted in Forest Green Rovers, who were the National League play-off winners – beating Tranmere in the Wembley showpiece.

Given all that, it is fair to say that Moore is eager for a case of third time lucky in the colours of Barnsley as he seeks an instant return to the Championship.

It is a level where the striker also has a clear sense of unfinished business with his second-tier credentials written off by many during his bittersweet time with Ipswich Town.

Events in the second half of last season with relegated Barnsley have only served to strengthen that desire to prove he can cut the mustard at Championship level as he approaches the peak of his powers.

Moore, who turns 27 in August, said: “At previous clubs, I have left in January in the last two seasons and both of those teams – Forest Green and Rotherham – have got promoted.

“When you look back and know you have missed out on those moments, it is not nice. But I have got a chance to stay here and actually feel that promotion (feeling).

Man on a mission: Kieffer Moore.

Man on a mission: Kieffer Moore.

“I worked really hard to get back into the Championship and then that opportunity faded in getting relegated to League One.

“I still see myself as a Championship player and playing in this league, we are all fighting to get back in the Championship and that is where we all ultimately want to be plying our trade.

“It gives me extra motivation when I am training and I know I need to be the hardest worker in the room to get to where I want to be.

“The (summer) turnaround was tough last year, but as soon as it happened, I thought to myself: ‘I have got an opportunity here where I can help the team fly back into the Championship’ and that if I worked hard and remained focused that would be a possibility.”

When you look back and know you have missed out on those moments, it is not nice. But I have got a chance to stay here and actually feel that promotion (feeling).

Barnsley’s Kieffer Moore

Moore’s exploits in the first half of this season with the Reds have certainly proved that his feats with the Millers last term were no flash in the pan.

Two identical hauls of 13 goals in the opening half of seasons is firm testament to that.

Speculation has been around since the summer that the striker, who signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Barnsley after joining for £750,000 from Ipswich last January, is on the watch-list of Championship rivals.

But making an instant return from whence he came in the Championship in the red of Barnsley is the only thing occupying his attentions.

Moore observed: “I will be a Barnsley player until I am not a Barnsley player.

“That is the way I see it and I will work hard every day and put in 100 per cent until I am not a Barnsley player and that will be it. Hopefully, I will stay until the end of the season and keep on scoring all the goals.

“It (speculation) is part and parcel of football and there are always little rumours flying around and you need to kind of forget about that and just focus on the task ahead.”

Should Barnsley achieve their season’s mission, then the smart money is on Moore and fellow forward Cauley Woodrow having a lot to do with it.

As striking double-acts go at League One level, their stature is self-evident – even if they have only played together seven times from the start of matches following Woodrow’s return from injury at the start of November.

A bout of illness and a back problem for Moore broke up that partnership for three matches over the festive period, but the big forward is likely to line up alongside Woodrow today.

Friends off the pitch, the pair have quickly displayed some chemistry on it.

Moore said: “We have gelled really well and are good friends and do stuff outside of football as well and go out.

“We did need a striker after Bradders (Tom Bradshaw) left and Cauley has more than filled that void.

“We are similar personalities and it is always nice when you can talk about other stuff and not football sometimes. It helps to build that rapport and obviously that shows on the pitch.”

The input of Moore and Woodrow is likely to be leaned upon today against a much-improved Bantams side who are one of the form sides in the division.

It will present a stern test for the Reds in their first home outing of 2019, as they seek to preserve a proud unbeaten league run at Oakwell which stretches back to March 17 of last year.

Moore added: “They have done well to rejuvenate their season. But not many teams come here and do one over us.

“It should be an interesting game and a very good game. They are bringing around 3,000, so it should be a good atmosphere and I am really looking forward to it.”