Barnsley v Preston: Heckingbottom hopes takeover inspire fans to flock to Oakwell

EVEN accounting for Barnsley's recent stuttering form, the season of goodwill should be patently obvious at Oakwell today.

The gift that most Reds supporters craved, in the shape of the completion of the club’s much-mooted takeover, has finally arrived with the impression made by the new owners, led by co-chairmen Paul Conway and Chien Lee, being a favourable one – at least if first impressions are anything to go by.

Back-to-back home games provide an opportunity for the Reds to extend the feel-good factor onto the pitch, too, with manager Paul Heckingbottom determined not to waste the opportunity as the club approaches the new year with renewed optimism.

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Heckingbottom, whose Reds side enjoyed a profitable holiday season 12 months ago, but have won just four league matches at home so far in 2017, said: “The biggest news that this club has had in 13 years has just happened and Barnsley fans should be coming down and seeing what it is about and getting behind the new owners and the team because it is the start of something big.

“A change of ownership is a big, big thing and it will be interesting to see how the fans react to it.

“The takeover was a long time in coming, but I was always hopeful that it would happen and I trusted in Patrick (Cryne) that he wanted it to happen and he believed in it massively. It is good news for everyone.

“I am really looking forward to it.”

The Reds, who lost 2-1 at Fulham on Saturday, face Lancastrian opponents at home for the third successive season at Christmas.

Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

After victories in the past two years against Blackburn and Blackpool, the hosts are looking to provide another showpiece occasion for the Oakwell faithful.

Heckingbottom added: “I like to be at home, definitely. Some teams have journeys on Christmas Day, which you don’t really want. You want to get what you can with your family on Christmas Day and then be at home on Boxing Day. With the news, I am really looking forward to the next home game.”

Last six games: Barnsley LLLLDL Preston WDWWWD.

Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).

Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Last time: Barnsley 0 Preston 0; February 4, 2017; Championship.