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Hatters under the lights for the Reds

17/08/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Robinson

Barnsley take on Luton Town under the floodlights at Oakwell on Tuesday.

The Reds come into the clash off the back of a 1-0 victory against Coventry City at home, with Dominik Frieser’s first half strike proving to be the difference in the game.

Barnsley also have goalkeeper Brad Collins to thank, after a stoppage time penalty from Viktor Gyokeres was saved and secured three points for Markus Schopp’s side.

Luton on the other hand come into the game after a 3-2 defeat at the Hawthorns, paying a visit to former Reds boss Valerian Ismael. After falling 3 goals behind, late goals from Harry Cornick and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu were not enough to salvage a comeback for the Hatters.

Barnsley forward Carlton Morris had to be substituted in the first half after sustaining a knee injury, and watched the remainder of the game in the stands wearing a knee brace meaning his services will more than likely not be available for Tuesday night’s game.

Luton named an unchanged side for consecutive weeks at West Brom on Saturday, but former Reds player Jordan Clark sustained a head injury after a nasty collision with Albion ‘keeper Sam Johnstone and will miss the visit to South Yorkshire.

In this fixture last season Luton defeated the Reds by one goal to nil, in what was the curtain raiser for the 2020/21 season. James Collins, now of Cardiff City, resigned Gerhard Struber’s side to an opening day defeat.

Barnsley boss Schopp will of course hope for a better result this time out, in what has been an unbeaten start in the league so far for the Reds.

The Hatters will look to respond to their defeat on Saturday and emulate their opening day result, in which Peterborough United were brushed aside three goals to nil.

It will be interesting to see how Schopp lines up under the lights on Tuesday, with an enforced change necessary in the forward line, and the new attacking recruits yet to feature for the Reds.

Obbi Oulare could be involved in the matchday squad, with the timing of the Belgian’s inclusion being important with the lack of depth currently in that area.

Despite winning all three points against the Sky Blues on Saturday, I’m sure Schopp will be looking for a much more comfortable victory on Tuesday night.

Luton have been tricky customers for the Reds at Oakwell in recent times, so 30 points for backing the Hatters to win is not bad at all. For predicting that the spoils will be shared, 25 points are on offer, and for a Barnsley win, 10 points are available.

Owls hoping to compile Fleetwood misery

17/08/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall

Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to make it two wins on the spin this Tuesday as Fleetwood Town visit Hillsborough in the 7.45pm kick off.

The Owls claimed bragging rights in the South Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers this weekend with goals from Barry Bannan and Dennis Adeniran.

Darren Moore will be confident ahead of this clash after 4 points in the opening two league games and clean sheets in all three of Wednesday’s fixtures so far this season. Following Saturday’s victory the Owls boss said:

“I have got to be pleased. It is the third game and the third clean sheet. It builds consistency, understanding, relationships and confidence.

“I still think two games into the season the players are still finding their feet, touch, rhythm, passing and accuracy.

“It takes the first half a dozen games for teams to settle into their rhythm and routine.

“Some of our passing was not quite what we wanted in the first half but the main thing is the players are consistently giving their all.”

Tuesday night’s opponents, Fleetwood Town, are yet to pick up a single point this season, losing 1-0 to Portsmouth on the opening day, followed by a 2-1 defeat at Lincoln last time out. The Cod Army also bowed out of the League Cup last Tuesday in a narrow loss against Stoke City.

Managed by the experienced Simon Grayson, who boasts 4 League One promotions on his CV, Fleetwood have a relatively youthful squad. James Hill, Shayden Morris, Callum Morton and Gerard Garner all aged 21 or under have featured in both of Town’s opening fixtures.

One of few experienced heads however is that of former Cardiff and Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington. The 33 year-old joined Highbury on a free transfer from the Indian Super League this summer. With two EFL promotions to his name along with plenty of Premier League minutes, Pilkington possesses the quality to win any match at this level and is one the Owls will need to look out for.

Two more names for Wednesday to be aware of are Callum Camps and Callum Morton. Camps grabbed 9 league goals from midfield last term but is yet to feature for Grayson’s side so far this campaign. Morton joined Fleetwood on loan from West Brom this window having previously scored two League One goals in a short loan stint at Lincoln City. Yet to break into his parents clubs first team, Morton enjoyed a successful loan with Northampton in the 2019-20 season, netting three times in the League Two playoffs including a goal at Wembley as The Cobblers won promotion. The 21 year-old striker will be desperate to get a first goal for his latest club on Tuesday night.

Wednesday come into this one as clear favourites again with just 8 points available for a correct home win, whilst a brave prediction of the away side taking the spoils grabs 38 points. Darren Moore’s side had to wait 160 minutes for their first goal of the season and just like those red London buses, two came along at once. Perhaps this is a sign that the floodgates have opened for the Owls who could be on for a high goal-scoring victory. But, having lost their first two fixtures, Simon Grayson’s team will be determined to come away from Hillsborough with something.

That said, I believe Wednesday’s quality will be too much for Fleetwood and will win this one, just about. Head over to the ‘play’ section now to have your say. Will the Owls cruise to victory or will The Cod Army cause an upset?

Huddersfield in need of first win as they host Preston North End

17/08/2021 - Championship

By Lauren Whitehead

Huddersfield Town welcome Preston North End to the John Smith’s tonight and are in search of their first win of the new season.

Following their 5-1 defeat against Fulham, the Terriers will be hoping to drastically improve their 90 minute performance.

Preston will also be searching for their first season win having suffered defeats against both Hull City and Reading.

Frankie McAvoy will be hoping to see the return of Ched Evans after his recent absence due to injury.

The Lilywhites will also want to see Declan Rudd included in the starting XI after he was named on the bench last weekend.

Tom Bayliss has been in training this week following his isolation period, however Tom Barkhuizen and Izzy Brown remain out.

Matthew Olosunde will also be missing but is set to return to training within the next couple of weeks.

Carlos Corberan’s side on the other hand will welcome back Lewis O’Brien and Lee Nicholls which will most likely see changes to the starting squad from previous weeks.

Danel Sinani will also be available and so may make his debut in the starting XI, alongside Rolando Aarons who has recently played with the B Team and may return to the bench.

New signing Tom Lees is also yet to make his debut for the club, whereas Pipa is still recovering from injury and so will most likely be amongst the substitutes.

Josh Ruffels is yet to rejoin training and so will be absent, as well as Harry Toffolo who also needs longer in training to be ready for selection.

Huddersfield need to drastically improve on their recent performances to avoid struggling throughout the upcoming season and to boost morale at home.

With both teams eager for their first win of the season, it really is anybody’s game.

A win for the Terriers will earn you 15 Footrace points, whereas Preston will bring in 20. A draw will see 21 points, so it’s all down to who turns up on the night.

Chairboys next for the Latics

17/08/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton

Wigan Athletic will welcome Wycombe Wanderers to the DW Stadium on Tuesday night for their third Sky Bet League One fixture of the campaign.

Confidence will be high in the Latics camp going into tonight’s fixture after a last-gasp victory on Saturday over Rotherham United.

Will Keane scored the winner in injury time of Saturday’s match, and he will be the one to watch tonight as the striker will be looking to add to his tally now that he is off the mark.

Leam Richardson may be tempted to keep an unchanged squad after success at the weekend, but Gavin Massey and Jordan Cousins both looked strong when they came on as substitutes and will be chomping at the bit to start against Wycombe.

The Chairboys arrive in Wigan having picked up maximum points so far this campaign, most recently beating Cheltenham Town by a comfortable margin of 3-1, and a win for Wycombe tonight will mark their best ever start to a League One campaign.

Wycombe manager, Gareth Ainsworth, has no new injury concerns ahead of the fixture and so may look to keep his side unchanged.

You would expect both of these teams to be fighting it out at the top of the table come the end of the season, so maybe you will be tempted by a draw worth 22 Footrace points. A win for Wigan will earn you 12 points, while an away win for Wycombe is worth 25 points.

Son shines in Kane absence

17/08/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw

Well well well, did anybody expect a 1-0 victory for Tottenham Hotspur against reigning champions Manchester City?

If anyone read my preview for the game, you will know that I certainly didn’t! Even though I stated it was a perfect time to play City I did not envisage us taking three points.

But perhaps I should have been more optimistic. In four attempts City have never won or even scored a goal at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Despite this, the lineup far from filled with me with confidence, especially the centre-back partnership of Dier and Sanchez. A partnership I had the unpleasure of countlessly watching getting unlocked last season.

The opening 20 minutes played straight into my pre-match narrative. City started at an electrifying pace, pinging the ball around beautifully and creating threatening chances.

New boys Grealish along with Sterling and Mahrez looked hungry for the ball and immediately had the Spurs defence on the back foot. Flashbacks of City dismantling us 3-0 at the Etihad last season flooded my head and I accepted it was only a matter of time before City made there dominance count.

To my surprise, Spurs did not let this faze them in the slightest. In fact, they responded brilliantly and by the end of the half they looked the side more likely to score. At the start of the second half it was the same story, Tottenham were unbelievably the more threatening side.

Unlike City, Spurs made their dominance count 55 minutes in. A classic Spurs counter-attack, which started with Lucas and ended with a sumptuous Heung-Ming Son strike. The pace of Lucas, Son and Bergwijn was too much to handle for Mendy and Ake all game.

It was only a matter of time before Son could run at one of them. The unlucky recipient was Ake, who foolishly allowed Son to cut inside and unleash a powerful strike into the bottom left hand corner, leaving Ederson rooted to his goal line.

Under Mourinho a 1-0 scoreline meant time to park the bus. But under Nuno things appear to be different. Spurs gloriously kept at City with plenty of pressing, Japhet Taganaga embodied this. The young full-back put in a man of the match performance, not allowing Sterling or Grealish a yard.

It was refreshing to watch a Spurs side that worked so hard for each other again. It was a reminder of what this squad is capable of, even without Harry Kane! Mourinho had clearly created a toxic atmosphere around the club which had spilled out onto the pitch. On Sunday, Spurs looked like there were enjoying their football again, much to the joy of the fans.

I have to touch on Kane, given the edge this match was given over the transfer saga between the two clubs. This game proved that there is life at Spurs after Kane. Son stepped up in his absence terrifically. I don’t buy the line Spurs put out about his fitness being the reason he wasn’t in the match day squad.

Every other player from England’s Euro squad at least made the bench this weekend. I think his time is up at Spurs and for the first time that doesn’t fill me with complete terror. If we invest the money properly it might even be a good thing.

What a start to the season. COYS!

Hull City: the team who don't know what a good thing is

16/08/2021 - Championship

By Sam Ketch

Hull City, a club who do not know what a good thing is... Or if they do, they don’t know how to keep it going. 

The Tigers performance at Preston was so good that optimism and hope had somehow seeped through to a fan base more familiar with pettiness and complaining. 

Keane Lewis-Potter: don’t you know the lad is the second coming of Christ? And he’s ‘one of our own’ no less. Probably take us to the Premier League single-handedly.  

Perhaps QPR, buoyant with Jordy de Wijs able to play having been a doubt, were just ruthless and outclassed Hull on the day – but what’s the fun in saying that? 

Okay, it’s fair to say that Chris Willock’s opener was a great strike (but could Ingram have done more?) and that Matt Smith could very easily have seen his shot connecting with the netting rather than Rob Dickie’s long legs. But still... for once the fanbase viewed a young, hungry and exciting group of players as worth being invested in and positive about. 

Of course, this is all tongue-in-cheek. The players do not try to derail a good thing – perhaps because they don’t know what a good thing is – but it is stunning how often Hull fans can find themselves complaining about a good thing ruined. 

This group of players available to Grant McCann is the first since the ‘glory days’ of not that long ago (but given everything between then and now... quite some time) to excite fans and get them eager to take up their seats. 

There are still the silly infights over whether we boycott or attend the games. My personal view is the players don’t deserve a season of empty stands at home and packed houses in their away matches, but people have their reasons to believe that the Allam family will leave if enough fans do not go to the matches. 

Anyway. This midweek the mighty Tigers will host Derby County. A team in a far worse situation than us. That calls for one thing, and I shall go to the Carl Anka school of terminology for this: ‘Hull City, go cook those boys’. 

City have to go and attack with confidence. KLP, the magic man, must be fed delicious passes through gaps in the defence – just as he was in the Preston and Wigan games. 

Defensively, perhaps tracking your runner on set-pieces would help. There is little else to pick them up on, really. 

This is a sign of the season to come though, you would imagine. A win, a draw (because it wasn’t a loss to Wigan in the 90 minutes), a loss and a penalty shootout defeat. It will be mixed and varied, given the unpredictable nature of Championship football. As long as the Tigers avoid a relegation scrap, it will be a season to enjoy. 

Full stands – maybe, one day, at the MKM again too – and a team that will get better and better with every 90 minutes played. 

Hull City could do with learning what a good thing is, and then putting it into practice to let the fans fall in love again. 

Ice cool Frieser wins it for the Reds

16/08/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Robinson

As 13,000 home fans clapped along to the iconic tune of ‘Timerider’, football was back.

‘You Reds’ echoed around the stadium, as a sea of red united on three sides of Oakwell, after 18 months away from the stands.

The players responded to the energy from the stands, starting very brightly in Markus Schopp’s first home game as Barnsley manager.

After some neat play on the edge of the area, Carlton Morris threaded a pass through for Callum Brittain who nearly converted from close range for a perfect start to the game.

Perhaps surprisingly for some, Josh Benson was left on the bench despite an impressive performance against Bolton in midweek, with Callum Styles and Romal Palmer starting in the middle for the Reds.

Palmer gave an impressive performance against the Sky Blues, winning the ball back well whilst being neat with the ball. Palmer also provided the assist for Dominik Frieser’s goal with a perfectly weighted through ball. Frieser then bore down on goal, striking the ball home across the Sky Blues ‘keeper.

Palmer’s performance perhaps a statement to Schopp, to prove that he is deserving of a starting spot in this Barnsley side.

Frieser scored his first home goal for Barnsley, and indeed the first goal that fans at Oakwell had witnessed since February 2020. The Austrian took the goal well and showed intelligent movement to get himself in behind the Coventry defence.

Michal Helik was ever reliable once again, heading every ball and blocking every cross. Also impressive was Liam Kitching, to say the centre-back was playing League Two football not long ago, Kitching looked like he had played at this level for a long time. His efforts were rewarded, with Kitching winning the Man of the Match award.

One negative from the afternoon was the injury sustained by Morris, as he ended the match sat in the stands sporting a knee brace and crutches. Schopp said post-match that the striker will have a scan this week. Barnsley will hope that the injury is not too serious, with Morris playing an important part of the Reds’ play-off push after joining in January 2021. Along with the lack of fitness of new recruits Obbi Oulare and Aaran Leya Iseka, Morris’ absence no matter how long, will be felt.

A key point within the game was of course the stoppage time penalty won by Coventry in the final minutes. A defensive mix-up allowed Sky Blues substitute Jamie Allen to enter the Reds penalty area, where Allen was brought down in an attempted recovery by Jordan Williams. The referee initially did not give the penalty, but seemingly after consultation from his assistant, John Busby pointed to the spot.

Viktor Gyökeres stepped up for Coventry, but a fantastic save from Brad Collins denied the Swede and saved two points for Barnsley at the death.

This moment really encapsulated the beautiful return of fans. Despair for Barnsley supporters when the referee pointed to the spot, hope for those in Sky Blue, followed by despondence, and jubilation for three sides of Oakwell.

The result a fitting way to cap off the return of fans to Oakwell, and a great one in the context of the season. A good point earned away at Cardiff, followed by a victory at home against a solid Coventry side is a very good start for Schopp’s side.

A tough contest against Luton Town follows for the Reds, on Tuesday at Oakwell. A tough game is all but guaranteed against a consistent Hatters side. Under the stewardship of Nathan Jones, Luton are aggressive and difficult to break down.

However, Schopp will be relatively happy with his start to life in Barnsley.

An unfortunate Welcome Home party for the Terriers

16/08/2021 - Championship

By Lauren Whitehead

Huddersfield Town suffered a 5-1 defeat at the John Smiths’s Stadium against Fulham on Saturday.

The Cottagers took the lead early in the game before managing to secure another two goals in the first 45 minutes.

Town’s Matty Pearson did manage to find the back of the net later in the game but their efforts proved to fall significantly short of the mark.

The Terriers were again without key players Lee Nicholls, Harry Toffolo, Josh Ruffels, and Lewis O’Brien which placed the home side on the back foot from the get-go.

It was Huddersfield who thought they had the lead when Pearson managed to get one past Paulo Gazzaniga, however it was not to be as the assistant raised his flag.

As expected, Fulham came into the game raring to go and an over hit pass from Sorba Thomas saw Schofield try to keep the ball in play. However, his clearance was met by a sliding Aleksandar Mitrovic who slotted the ball perfectly into the net.

After half an hour, the offside flag was raised again as Mitrovic looked to claim a brace early on.

A 39th minute corner from the Cottagers saw Bobby Reid nod the ball towards Josh Onomah who managed to find the bottom corner and put them 2-0 up.

Just before the half time mark, Pearson latched onto the end of a corner from Sorba Thomas to see him claim his first Town goal on his home debut.

However, the joy was short lived as Fabio Carvalho drilled another past Schofield and reclaimed a solid lead.

The Terriers made two changes for the second half, bringing on Scott High and Fraizer Campbell to replace Alex Vallejo and Danny Ward.

This also saw Josh Koroma move to the front of the new 3-5-2 formation alongside Campbell.

The visitors had the first real chance of the second half when Harry Wilson hit the bar following an initial effort from Carvalho.

Fulham were reduced to 10 men not long after as Wilson was handed a red card for kicking Levi Colwill who had brought him down in a challenge. Colwill saw a yellow for the foul.

The Cottagers added a fourth to their scoreline when substitute Ivan Cavaleiro flicked the ball over Schofield who had left his line in an attempt to stop the winger.

Huddersfield’s Jonathan Hogg headed the ball just over the bar in the closing minutes seeing the final chance for the home side.

Added time gave Cavaleiro his brace as he bagged the fifth and final Fulham goal in the 95th minute.

Yet to find a win in the new season, the first game back at the John Smith’s was as disappointing as it could have been for the Huddersfield fans.

However, hopefully the Terriers can look back at their defeat to pinpoint exactly where they went wrong and get ready to host Preston North End on Tuesday evening.

Five-star Red Devils thrash Leeds

15/08/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields

Manchester United steamrolled their North Yorkshire rivals 5-1, en route to the top spot in the league after the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba were the standout performers on the day, as Fernandes scored a hat-trick and Pogba provided four assists.

Solskjaer’s men should’ve been ahead within the first 15 minutes when Greenwood’s excellent pass put Pogba through 1-on-1 with Meslier. Despite a clever stepover, his shot went agonisingly wide of the target.

David De Ge produced a smart stop after 16 minutes as Leeds started to come into the game with the reds having been on top from the first whistle.

The deadlock was broken on the half-hour mark when the home side seized onto a loose clearance by Leeds’ keeper. Pogba clipped the ball into Fernandes’ path, which Bruno struck powerfully through the legs of Meslier.

Leeds equalised three minutes into the second half when Luke Ayling rocketed the ball past a helpless De Gea.

Within three minutes, the reds were back in front when Pogba played a beautifully weighted pass to put Greenwood through for a clinical, drilled finish into the bottom right corner.

Two minutes later and it was 3-1.

Pogba again found Fernandes, who brilliantly sat down the Leeds goalkeeper and wrong-footed the defence before lashing the ball over the line, despite Ayling’s desperate attempt to hack it away. However, goalline technology signalled the whole of the ball had entered the goal before Ayling cleared it away.

Bruno ensured he took home the match-ball when he latched onto a sublime over-the-top through ball by Victor Lindelof with a stunning half-volley inside the box on the hour.

Leeds found themselves in disarray and another goal down as Fred tidily swept home a fifth after 69 minutes.

With the result beyond doubt, Ole subbed on debutant Jadon Sancho on 75 minutes to rapturous applause from the home crowd who were audibly buzzing to see their new man in action.

Next up for Manchester United is a trip to the south coast to face Southampton at St Mary’s.

Last minute Latics leave it late against Millers

15/08/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton

Wigan Athletic came away with all three points on an emotional day at the DW Stadium after Will Keane headed home in injury time.

The game was tied for the majority of the match, with both sides having opportunities to take the lead, but it was Wigan who stole all three points deep in stoppage time after Will Keane headed in a well taken free-kick from Max Power.

Prior to kick-off, Latics fans had the opportunity to show their appreciation to their new owners Phoenix 2021 as chairman Talal Al Hammad was introduced onto the pitch – signalling the start of a new and exciting chapter for Wigan Athletic.

If that was not emotional enough, there was also a minute’s applause to remember supporters who would not be returning to their seat after an incredibly tough 18 months.

After a delay to kick off of 10-minutes it was the home side who came the closest to taking the lead when Charlie Wyke looked to set up Keane, but he was only able to send his shot wide of the post.

Rotherham had several chances to take the lead in the first half, the first chance coming from Mickel Miller, but his effort was deflected wide.

A confident display from Wigan goalkeeper Ben Amos ensured the Latics stayed level after Jamie Lindsay’s effort was parried over the bar.

The visitors ended the first half strongest, but Wigan could have gone ahead on the stroke of half time with some strong skill from Wyke, but he was unable to find the right angle to score.

In the second half, Wyke and Tom Naylor worked well to set up Keane who came close to putting Latics in front, but his close range header sailed wide of the post.

The Millers looked to have broken the deadlock when Dan Barlaser’s header beat Amos, but his effort fired off the woodwork and into the hands of the Wigan keeper.

A 0-0 thriller looked set to be the end result until Wigan took the lead in the last minute of injury time.

With the fans willing them on, Power’s free-kick was perfectly whipped into the box to meet the head of Keane who was able to fire home the winner and ensure the home side secured maximum points in front of their new owners and the returning Latics supporters.

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