Barnsley’s recent Wembley success in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy will stand them in good stead on their return to the national stadium for the League One play-off final, according to Paul Heckingbottom.
The Reds cruised into the May 29 final courtesy of a resounding 6-1 aggregate win over Walsall. Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Yorkshire, Heckingbottom’s side did not rest on their laurels at the Banks’s Stadium and cruised to another comfortable victory.
Adam Hammill scored after 18 minutes and then turned provider for Ashley Fletcher to score in the 66th minute. Substitute Jordan Cook’s superb long-range goal five minutes from time was a strike deserving of more than mere consolation but the scoring was not finished as Josh Brownhill netted late on to make it 3-1 on the night - a repeat of Barnsley’s win at Walsall in the league in March.
After overcoming Oxford at Wembley just last month, Barnsley will bid to become the first team since Grimsby in 1998 to win the Football League Trophy and clinch promotion via the play-offs.
“I think having already done it will help, yes,” said Heckingbottom. “It was not in the too distant past. We know what the venue is like and we know what to expect and we’ll be more than ready for it, definitely.”
Barnsley were dominant in both matches against a team who finished three places and 10 points ahead of them in the table.
“I’m delighted, obviously,” said Heckingbottom. “To get to the play-offs was the first objective and once we’d achieved that we wanted to get to Wembley, and we’ve done that. Now we want to go on and win it and go up.
“It was comfortable in the end but it was only comfortable because we made it that way through hard work.”
In the final Barnsley will face either Yorkshire rivals Bradford City or Millwall, who resume their semi-final tie at The Den on Friday night with the Lions 3-1 ahead.
Asked if he had a preference, Heckingbottom said: “It doesn’t matter who it is. We might watch it tomorrow but whoever it is we’ll be prepared.”