Barnsley v Wolves preview: Tykes out for revenge
Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers previews tomorrow's trip to Oakwell to face Barnsley.
‘The rematch of the season’ is how Barnsley have dubbed tomorrow’s clash at Oakwell.
The two teams played out a dramatic encounter at Molineux earlier this season when Barnsley could rightly feel aggrieved at not nicking a point.
Wolves had struggled to break the Tykes down until substitute Bright Enobakhare’s cute left-footed finish gave Wolves an 80th minute lead.
Barnsley thought they’d earned a draw when Adam Jackson levelled in injury time – only for another sub Alfred N’Diaye to slam home an even later winner.
"I feel sick," was head coach Paul Heckingbottom's honest post-match assessment – and they'll be out for revenge tomorrow.
In a season of struggle so far the Tykes can point to their Molineux display as one of their better performances.
Heckingbottom's side are currently sat 19th, two points above the drop zone. But for a club that places an almost extreme emphasis on developing young talents before selling them on for big profits (John Stones, Alfie Mawson, Conor Hourihane Sam Winnall, James Bree and Mason Holgate have all been sold in the past three years) perhaps 19th is about where they can expect to be.
Remarkably, Barnsley's second oldest player is 26, with ex-Wolves winger Adam Hammill the 'veteran' at 29.
Whether it's dressed up as a grudge match or not, tomorrow's result certainly won't define Barnsley's season. Indeed, all six of their wins this season have come against teams placed 14th or lower in the table.
Another Saturday, another game Wolves are expected to win as they attempt to continue their seemingly unstoppable march to the Premier League.
Barnsley away looks on paper to be an 'away banker' for a team that's won six more points on the road than any other Championship side, with 29 earned from just 13 matches.
The Tykes meanwhile have won only three of their 13 games at Oakwell and are as high as 4/1 to win on their own turf tomorrow, with Wolves clear 8/13 favourites.
There'll be no underestimating the opposition from Nuno Espirito Santo, though, especially after the reverse fixture in which Barnsley pushed Wolves all the way.
Whatever happens tomorrow we know Wolves will play exactly as they have done all season long – it's the Nuno way.
The head coach gave a fascinating insight into his psyche when discussing philosophies and his career history this week.
Speaking to The Coaches’ Voice, former Valencia and Porto boss Nuno said the make-up of the Championship didn't change the way he wanted his team to play the game.
"I don’t really believe there is anything different about the Championship," he said.
"Football is the game. It is always the same. There are specific situations and characteristics of the Championship, yes. But it is a competition. There are good teams, there are good players. What matters most is your idea.
"When you think about the Championship, when you are offered a job in the Championship, the first thought you must have is this: can I make my idea work in this league?
"This is the first step you must take. It is not about the Championship changing your idea. No. It is about your idea inside the Championship. Can we make it work? Is it possible to go there with our idea, our philosophy?"
The 43-year-old also explained his motivation for being a manager/head coach.
"It’s a kick it gives you," he said. "We live about that, it’s our life, those moments of pure adrenalin that you have.
"That’s what keeps you going – being there, being able to fight, to win. This desire of winning makes you okay, we’re going to do it.
"And I will go every day thinking about that. I get this thrill now, at Molineux.
"This is not about who is behind you – you can have 100,000, 60,000, you can have 6,000, it’s about who you have in front of you.
"That is what it’s about, being the coach. It’s your players, it’s your team. If you love the game you will feel it everywhere."
Wolves may not have 6,000 fans at Oakwell but they won't be far off after the last of 4,700 away tickets sold out this week.
Midfielder Joe Williams, a 21-year-old loanee from Everton who has starred this season, is suspended after a red card at Millwall last weekend. New signing Kieffer Moore, who moved from Ipswich this week, is in line for a debut up front.
Danny Batth and Ruben Vinagre are both suspended. Nuno must choose from three of Diogo Jota, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa, Leo Bonatini and Rafa Mir up front.
Predicted line ups
Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies; Cavare, Lindsay, Pinnock, Fryers; Isgrove, Gardner, Potts, Hammill; Bradshaw, Moore.
Wolves (3-4-3): John Ruddy; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Saiss, Neves, Douglas; Cavaleiro, Bonatini, Jota. Subs: Norris, Hause, N'Diaye, Gibbs-White, Costa, Enobakhare, Mir.
Barnsley – Tom Bradshaw: Former Walsall striker who has scored 11 goals in a struggling team and is attracting attention from fellow Championship side Reading, whose manager Jaap Stam confirmed the Royals’ interest this week. Bradshaw nettted 40 times in 86 appearances for the Saddlers and has made the step up.
Wolves – Conor Coady: Barnsley may have two livewires up front in Bradshaw and Kieffer Moore, so Coady’s calming presence in defence will be important.
Past five meetings
September 23, 2017 (Ch): Wolves 2 (Enobakhare 80, N'Diaye 90) Barnsley 1 (Jackson 90)
January 31, 2017 (Ch): Barnsley 1 (Roberts 80) Wolves 3 (Hause 5 Edwards 36, 77)
September 13, 2016 (Ch): Wolves 0 Barnsley 4 (Hourihane 73, Hammill 83, Janko 85, Bradshaw 90)
February 19, 2013 (Ch): Barnsley 2 (Dagnall 49, Mellis 73) Wolves 1 (Sigurdarsson 7)
August 21, 2012 (Ch): Wolves 3 (Ward 8, Ebanks-Blake 61, Edwards 70) Barnsley 1 (Cywka 79)