Twelve points will seal play-off spot says Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael

BARNSLEY head coach Valerien Ismael has targetted a haul of 12 points from the remaining 24 available to book a second-tier play-off berth for the Reds for the first time in 21 years.

Valerien Ismael.
Valerien Ismael.

Ismael's side have enjoyed an outstanding run of form since his arrival in late October and they currently sit in fifth place in the Championship ahead of the resumption of business after the final international break of the season with a big home game with fellow top-six candidates Reading a week today on Good Friday (April 2).

Last Saturday's surprise defeat to Sheffield Wednesday was the club's first in 13 matches and followed a brilliant run of nine victories in their previous ten matches.

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As it stands, Barnsley are five points clear of the side just outside of the play-offs in Bournemouth, who have a game in hand - at Huddersfield Town in mid-April.

Ismael's side are six points ahead of eighth-placed Cardiff, who have played the same amount of games.

After hosting Reading, Barnsley head to Luton on Easter Monday before hosting ninth-placed Middlesbrough - who are currently eight points behind them having played the same amount of games - on April 10.

Their next game at lowly Coventry City has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 18 - with the Sky Blues in action three days earlier in a relegation six-pointer at Rotherham United.

After the trip to St Andrew's, Barnsley - who were beaten play-off finalists in the second tier back in 1999-2000 - visit Huddersfield on Wednesday, April 21 and host Rotherham three days later.

The Reds' last away game of the season is at Preston on May 1 and they finish off at home to leaders and likely champions Norwich seven days later, with Ismael believing that four wins from their remaining eight games will do it.

He said: “We need four wins from the last eight games. We have to stay focused.

“The next game against Reading is against a direct opponent so everything is in the right direction.”

"The top two is really really far away. We take the reality. We are fifth with 64 points and a play-off ticket means you need 75 points at least so we need four wins from eight.”

“If you want to get in the play-offs you will need maybe 75 points, if you see the statistics of the last years."

Meanwhile, captain Alex Mowatt has spoken on his relief at his red card in the recent game at Wycombe being rescinded following a successful club appeal.

Mowatt would have missed the games against Wednesday and the Reds' Easter programme if the appeal - following a challenge on Wanderers player Scott Kashket - was unsuccessful.

He said: “I was relieved to be honest and when I got the phone call in the kitchen, I was buzzing.

"Honestly, I did not know how he gave a red card there.

"But I did not think it would be overturned just because it looked like it was two-footed when I have won the ball and my right foot has come in as I thought he was going to put it through my legs.

"There was no intention to hurt the player and the way he went down was ridiculous.

“Even though we won, I was gutted after the game, thinking I was going to miss three matches, so thankfully it got overturned."