Sunderland v Barnsley: Ethan Pinnock aiming for repeat against the Black Cats

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THE STADIUM of Light holds the fondest of memories for Ethan Pinnock – and the in-form Barnsley defender is intent on enjoying another special moment at the north-east venue this evening.

Pinnock netted his first away goal for the Reds in a keynote 1-0 victory at Sunderland on New Year’s Day when the rivals were embroiled in a Championship relegation scrap.

Ethan Pinnock: Key man.

Ethan Pinnock: Key man.

Now, both sides are fighting it out at the top of League One in their bid to return to the second-tier at the first time of asking.

A second significant Reds’ win on Wearside in 2018 would see them leapfrog the Black Cats into second place and represents a major incentive for the visitors.

On his previous golden episode in the north-east, Pinnock, outstanding in Saturday’s derby draw with Doncaster Rovers, said: “It was definitely up there in my career.

“Coming from playing where I was to scoring the winner at the Stadium of Light; if anyone had told me I would do that a few years ago, I would have said: ‘what are you talking about?

“It was a massive game when we played there last season and all the boys are up for it again and hoping we can leave there with the three points again.”

Pinnock has emerged as a defensive lynchpin of note for the Reds this term and the centre-half believes that his current form is the best of his burgeoning career so far.

He acknowledged: “It is the best so far, certainly in terms of the level I am playing at and performances.

“I have done well in other seasons, but it was not at as high a level.”

Last six games: Sunderland WWWWDD; Barnsley WDWWWD.

Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire).

Last time: Sunderland 0 Barnsley 1, January 1, 2018; Championship.