Bolton Wanderers v Barnsley FC: Toughest away test so far for road specialists Reds admits Neill Collins

WITH eight wins from their 13 away league matches and just one loss thus far, it’s fair to say that Barnsley’s away form is certainly that of an automatic promotion contender.

Ambitious managers invariably want more heading towards the pivotal final third of seasons and Neill Collins is no different.

The Reds did claim a ‘scalp’ of sorts in their last away fixture by winning at Oxford United, but three points against second-placed Bolton Wanderers, who have won ten of their 14 home matches so far this term and amassed an impressive 31 points would be a headline statement.

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Collins professes as much, stating: “Bolton, with the games in hand, will be top of the league.

Barnsley head coach Neill Collins. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Barnsley head coach Neill Collins. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Barnsley head coach Neill Collins. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

"The manager has been there for a long time and implemented a style of play over a period of time. It’s very effective.

"But we are going there to try and get three points and implement how we want to play.

"It would be nice to get three points as it does bring a lot of belief.

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"We have shown that we can win away from home. But we know this weekend is going to be our biggest test.

"The last (big) one at Peterborough was a really good one and at the stage we are at and Bolton, this is an even tougher test, you could say.

"The players have risen to every challenge, especially away from home. The only game we didn’t turn up was at Derby."

With three games in hand on leaders Portsmouth, Wanderers are well placed in their quest for not only promotion, but also silverware.

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They trail the south-coast frontrunners by just three points and while Collins concurs with the theory that the Lancashire outfit - who will visit Oakwell in just over a month's time on March 5 - are title favourites, he adds a caveat.

The Scot continued: “I think, possibly (they are), considering their games in hand and the consistency of the team.

"But I wouldn’t rule out Peterborough, who have been excellent and obviously Portsmouth and Derby. It’s really hard to say without offending one of those teams."

The game comes too soon for Jamie McCart and Josh Benson, while Fabio Jalo is facing a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a nasty recent injury for the Reds under-21s. The club are waiting for a ‘second opinion’.

Winter window recruit Donovan Pines is set to play for the Reds’ reserves on Tuesday.