MENTION home form to Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers supporters and you will probably receive a dark look.
The welcome mat has been displayed at Oakwell and the Keepmoat Stadium on a few too many occasions of late, with visitors enjoying the hospitality of some poor defending, much to the fans’ chagrin.
Home rule has been conspicuous by its absence for both since the clocks went forward at the end of March with a drama in danger of turning into a crisis as far as Danny Wilson and Paul Dickov are concerned if things do not improve soon.
Both will not need telling about the importance of decent home form, with an acute lack of it effectively leading to the sacking of one of their managerial counterparts in Lee Clark earlier this week, the ex-Huddersfield manager being shown the door by Birmingham.
In 10 league matches on home soil since March 30, the Reds have won just twice and seen their colours lowered seven times, most recently when they let a 2-0 lead slip in a 3-2 loss to Notts County on Tuesday.
It is a similar picture 15 miles east for Rovers, who have triumphed on only one occasion in the league in their past nine outings at the Keepmoat, which witnessed a 2-0 win for Leyton Orient in midweek.
The fixture list has seemingly afforded the sides – next to each other in 16th and 17th place respectively in the table – few favours tomorrow with League One leaders Bristol City and fourth-placed MK Dons due in.
How everyone connected with both South Yorkshire neighbours will be hoping this changes on the weekend that the clocks go back, although the mood of both remains upbeat.
For Barnsley, starting from scratch and building a whole new side has not been without pain.
But the faith of owner Patrick Cryne in Wilson, second time around at Oakwell, remains strong and only yesterday the club sanctioned the signing of AFC Telford striker Mike Phenix for an undisclosed fee.
Given such a mass overhaul of playing personnel, Reds’ CEO Ben Mansford says that their seasonal hopes of being in the top-six mix have to be tempered by a bit of early realism. But equally the desire is for things to improve sooner rather than later, especially at Oakwell.
Mansford told The Yorkshire Post: “The message I would say to fans is do not think the executive and the ownership of the football are any less frustrated.
“When you let 21 players go and there are 14 players coming in, of which four are loans, and we give seven youth development players their first professional contracts and put four scholars on pro contracts, it is going to take a bit of time and a lot of patience.
“But that patience after Tuesday night is running a little thinner.
“When you see our depth on paper, the fans are quite rightly expecting a little bit more than they have had.
“Offensively, we look really good, but if the boys are serious about delivering on their potential, we need to cut out the stupid mistakes.
“We have just got to be a bit tougher to beat. When the going gets tough, we don’t seem to get going right now or have game management or aggression.
“But I know Danny and his staff will get it right and an ethic where the schoolboy mistakes are eradicated.
“The fans have been brilliant and if they stick with us and I am sure, these groups of players will come through and be successful.”
Just like at Barnsley, aberrations in defence have proved a glaring Achilles heel at Rovers this term to put pressure on Dickov’s shoulders.
But as with Wilson, Dickov has retained the faith of the boardroom, with Rovers’ hierarchy yesterday sanctioning the loan signing of Doncaster-born centre-half Andy Butler, from Sheffield United.
Dickov believes the 30-year-old can step into the breach and fulfil the defensive leadership role that the club have been lacking in the absence of the injured Rob Jones.
Butler, who hails from Balby, is set to make his debut tomorrow, with Dickov already laying much store by his presence.
Dickov, who has revealed that loan goalkeeper Jed Steer will return to parent club Aston Villa after the derby at Bradford City on November 1, said: “I have tried to sign Andy quite a few times over the past few years. He is what we need at the minute; a leader and organiser on the pitch.
“It has been no secret that, for my liking, we have been conceding too many goals. We need to tighten up.
“We have good players and lads in our team, but just need to be a little bit louder in our communication and have concentration on the pitch and Andy knows the league very well and is a local lad which is a big plus as well.
“We are looking for big characters to stand up and be counted as we need to start winning games at home.
“You go back to the game on Tuesday night and we should have got something with chances created and possession. The only stat that went against us was the result.
“Sometimes little bits of luck don’t seem to go for you when you are not playing well, but on the flip side of that, you have got to change that around.”