DO not let it be said that tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy Group F game with Bradford City has limited importance for Barnsley.
Victory over City will seal group qualification for the Reds, who won the competition in its guise as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a memorable Wembley win over Oxford in April 2016.
You need these matches. The first group stage is not that big, but it becomes bigger and at the end is Wembley and that is what we dream of.Barnsley assistant coach, Andreas Winkler
That success was part of a famous double at the home of football, with Barnsley promoted after beating Millwall in the League One play-off final 56 days later.
Taking the next step in what they hope will be a repeat of their JPT Trophy win of 2015-16 may be the prime motivating factor tonight, but the Reds are also mindful of maintaining their impressive Oakwell form.
A run of four consecutive home games in all competitions has yielded three wins and a draw – with the Reds having not seen their colours lowered on home soil in 14 matches since March 17.
Assistant head coach Andreas Winkler, whose side booked their place in round two of the FA Cup with a comprehensive 4-0 dismantling of Notts County on Saturday, said: “We really care about the competition. It is a competitive match and we have lots of players who have high quality and just want to play and show the gaffer that they can perform on a higher level. You need these matches.
“The first group stage is not that big, but it becomes bigger and at the end is Wembley and that is what we dream of.
“This is our ground and it is very important (to win) – and the second thing is have a clean sheet, which is sometimes more important than to score and score.”
The Reds are likely to shuffle the pack and make several changes tonight, with fit-again striker Cauley Woodrow likely to take another significant step in his road back to full match sharpness following a hamstring problem.
On Woodrow, who scored his maiden Reds goal at the weekend, head coach Daniel Stendel said: “For Cauley, we hope he can play in the next game for 90 minutes.
“We will build him up every game and give him more time. It is good for his self confidence that he scored. It is a success for the time where he worked with his injury.”
Last six games: Barnsley LLWWDW; Bradford LLLLLD.
Referee: C Boyeson (East Yorks).
Last time: Barnsley 0 Bradford 0, August 22, 2015; League One.