Barnsley’s Oakwell ‘one of the best’ away grounds in Championship, says Middlesbrough boss

MIDDLESBROUGH supporters have filled Oakwell’s North Stand with regularity over the years and sampled milestone days and nights, grand occasions and wretched ones.

Almost two years to the day, a big Boro contingent saw their side fail to lay a glove on Barnsley in a poor 1-0 defeat.

Those with longer memories will recall an awful display over Christmas 2009, which saw then manager Gordon Strachan get spiky in his post-match press conference , while defeat at Oakwell spelt the end of Tony Mowbray’s tenure in charge of his boyhood club in October 2013.

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More memorable times saw Boro power to an Easter Monday victory in front of 7,000-plus visiting Teessiders en route to the top-flight under Bruce Rioch in April 1988, while an Alan Moore-inspired 4-1 win early on in 1993-94 is also fondly recalled.

Boro manager Chris Wilder. Picture: Tony Johnson

The sell-out away end won’t quite know what to expect today.

But in the away dressing room in the stand where Boro fans will be housed, Chris Wilder will be pressing home the importance of attitude against a Barnsley side who have won just four times in 32 league matches this term – but twice in their last three outings.

Wilder said: “It is a championship game of football. As long as we don’t lose it in our changing room. That’s the message for me to the players. Make sure you are right and ‘at it.’ No doubt, we will be. I always think that Barnsley is one of the best away grounds in the division.

“It is a brilliant end and 5,000 Middlesbrough supporters being there – possibly more – is another great backing and hopefully the positive attitude of the team and supporters will make it a really good afternoon for us.

“But it’s another one, yet again, where we will have to produce another performance.”

In the Championship table, league position can mean little, as reinforced by Boro’s setback at mid-table Bristol City last weekend. It served as a warning for Wilder’s side.

He added: “These are all high intensity games and nothing is won on paper and you’ve got to go and fight and earn the right to play and put your mark on the game and dominate and dictate.

“Everybody has got something to play for and I don’t feel like there’s one team who hasn’t. Even if a team is in mid-table, for their own personal pride, they want to turn you over and stitch you up. This is what football is about; personal pride for players, managers and supporters.”

Boro come into the game on the back of a key comeback win over West Brom, but the good feeling was slightly dampened the following night ater news of late wins for play-off rivals Huddersfield Town, Sheffield United and QPR, with Luton Town also triumphing.

A philosophical Wilder, whose side dropped out of the top six on Wednesday, said: “I don’t think you can be obsessed by it.

“After that final whistle at Preston (in May) and we have done enough, we are in the mix.

“As I have said all along, Fulham and Bournemouth are huge favourites to go up in the top two and (below) that, it will be a rollercoaster right the way through for quite a few teams.

“You have got to ride with it and enjoy your wins and quickly bounce back from your setbacks, which we did from Saturday into Tuesday.”