Hull City v Barnsley: Tykes looking to exploit Tigers’ problems

Hull City’s goalkeeper crisis offers Barnsley an opportunity tonight.

Coach Poya Asbaghi and goalkeeper Brad Collins both insist the Reds have the hunger to escape Championship relegation but can they score the goals? They will not get many better opportunities than in East Yorkshire tonight.

With Matt Ingram concussed at the weekend and fellow goalkeeper Nathan Baxter having missed the last five matches with a hand injury, there is a vulnerability about Hull to exploit.

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As Asbaghi says, “They are not one of the best teams in the league so there are definitely weaknesses we need to exploit.”

Hull City goalkeeper Matt Ingram (top middle) clashes with QPR's Albert Adomah leading to him being taken off injured at Loftus Road. Picture: Jacques Feeney/PA Wire

Whether Barnsley can do that is another question. Only Norwich City have a worse record in English league football than their feeble 19 goals scored and the Canaries have played nine fewer games.

Collins admits Barnsley weighted things too far in terms of shutting the back door at Coventry City on Saturday. They were a stoppage-time goal from a 0-0 draw but in their position, bottom of the table and nine points adrift of safety, they need more if they are not to suffer the relegation many now see as a formality.

“Confidence has a big part to play but we just need to score more goals,” he says, bluntly. “I think everyone in the club knows that.

“Everyone thinks we’re down and dead and buried but it’s for everyone else to talk nonsense and we’ll stick together. People are going to have opinions and want to talk about us, all we can do is look after ourselves and use that.

Tykes head coach Poya Asbaghi. Picture: Tony Johnson

“But I don’t think that’s the motivation for us, it’s that we don’t want to be in League One. This club doesn’t deserve to be in League One so it’s up to us to fix it, no one else can do that for us.”

With just two wins in 16 league games, the pressure is mounting on Asbaghi and Barnsley, nine points adrift of safety.

“We are in a vulnerable position in the league and it would be strange if supporters were not having feelings in this moment,” he acknowledges.

“We have to accept it and try and work hard to win the next game because that’s the only thing that is going to make anybody happy.

“I never seek assurances (about his future). In football you’re always safe until the second you’re not safe.”

Demoralising though Barnsley’s season has been after reaching last term’s play-offs, Asbaghi says it has not affected spirits. He uses his injured captain, Cauley Woodrow to gauge that.

“Right now they have lots of hunger, even if we played two days ago,” says the coach. “I don’t see people mentally tired, I see a team ready to play.

“I talk to Cauley about everything – how we plan the schedule, where days off could be best for players and to get a feeling for other things, not so much who takes the next free-kick but how everyone’s feeling.

“Cauley has an ear in the locker room for how the group is feeling and linking the coaches to the players, even when he’s injured.

“After him we still have the little bit older players in the team that every day want to take more responsibility. They know we have a young team and in this young team there are people who have a bit more experience. Off the field they want to take more responsibility.”

Taking more responsibility is something Hull’s defenders will have to do tonight but with just 37 goals conceded in 33 games, left-back Brandon Fleming says it is their strength.

“It’s massive to the way we play,” he says.

“Counter-attacking is sometimes our main threat and the only way you can counter-attack is by being solid at the back.

“As a defender my job is first and foremost to keep a clean sheet and I’m sure the rest of the back four would agree with that. With the attacking players we’ve got, we know if we stay solid at the back, we’ll get chances.

“Everyone knows exactly what they’re doing. We’ve got a real good togetherness in the team and everyone wants to contribute and put a real shift in.”

Barnsley will have Amine Bassi back from injury but Callum Brittain will not be asked to start a second game in three days after five weeks out with a quad injury.

Hull have sold more than 15,000 tickets for the game, the first since owner Acun Ilicali reduced prices for children and seniors to £2. Fleming thinks it could be important for a side who are making good use of their 13-point cushion to the relegation zone in a run of no wins in five.

“We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves but that’s football, it’s a pressure sport and we need the three points,” he says. “It would help us a lot if the fans turned up in numbers.”

Last six games: Hull City DDLLLW; Barnsley LWLLLL

Referee: S Martin (Staffordshire)

Last time: Hull City 0 Barnsley 1, February 26, 2020, Championship