Burton Albion v Barnsley FC: Best of friends, best of enemies as Neill Collins aims to get one over Martin Paterson as Reds face another crunch Brewers trip in April

BEST of friends, best of enemies for one day.

Neill Collins’ friendship with his former Tampa Bay Rowdies assistant – and ex-Barnsley No 2 – Martin Paterson will be firmly parked today in a pressure game of significance at both ends of the table.

The visitors’ need for victory is heightened by an untimely run of just one win in five matches, which has seriously dented their hopes of finishing in the top two, which now look pretty unlikely.

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Collins’ major concern will be ensuring that Barnsley acquaint themselves with the wins column very soon for form reasons, with the Reds chief also likely to be mindful of the gap between themselves and the teams just outside of the top six, which could be whittled down further if his side have another bad day.

Barnsley manager Neill Collins. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images.Barnsley manager Neill Collins. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images.
Barnsley manager Neill Collins. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, Burton are fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table and are hovering just above the drop zone.

Paterson – who assisted Michael Duff during his season at Oakwell – finds himself under pressure and feeling the heat after an eight-match winless run.

Collins said: "Me and Martin obviously worked together and are good friends. But come Monday, the friendship will make things even more competitive.

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"Obviously, I want Martin to do really well. But I’d do anything for three points on Monday and I’m sure he’ll do the same.

"But ultimately, at the final whistle, me and Martin will shake hands.”

With three straight away games to come – trips to Charlton and Stevenage follow – the Reds are sure to be glad of that given the homesickness which has blighted their scorecard in 23-24 and their fine form on the road.

That said, they have failed to motor at the Pirelli Stadium in recent times and have copped two painful defeats on their last two visits in April 2023 and 2019.

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Last season’s Easter loss represented a huge blow to the Reds automatic hopes and boosted Burton’s survival prospects, with the Brewers hoping for a case of deja vu in Staffordshire.

Collins added: "I’ve been told that last year, it was where the club’s automatic promotion push kind of fell apart on a day when Barnsley should have won, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.

"We need to put ourselves in a situation where we are in control as much as we possibly can be. It’s a tough place to go and a small pitch to play on. But again, we need to get our away form going.”