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Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday
It was just 12 months that Barnsley completed one of the worst seasons in the club’s recent memory, finishing bottom of the Championship with a measly 30 points and even finishing four points behind a Derby County side that started the campaign on -12. The following summer brought about a major boardroom shift-around, and most crucially in mid-June, the appointment of Michael Duff after a very successful spell at Cheltenham Town. He has now started the Tykes towards another D-Day at Wembley, where they will meet a side who have defied all the odds in Sheffield Wednesday.
Thursday 18th May 2023 is a date that will go down in English football history. Six days prior, Sheffield Wednesday had been demolished 4-0 by Peterborough United at London Road in a game that had seemingly ended their promotion hopes before the second leg even began. Less than a week later, however, an all-out-attack side pulled off the seemingly impossible.
Goals in the 9th, 25th, 71st, and 98th minutes completed the biggest comeback in EFL Play-Off history, bringing the aggregate score back level and sending the tie to extra time, where Sheffield Wednesday once again had to recover from going behind to send the tie all the way to a victorious penalty shootout.
A game between two sides who have bounced up and down divisions in recent years, but both will be clamouring for a chance to play in the second tier once again, and you can get involved by backing our Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday bet builder tips below. We’ll be backing it with Paddy Power, and you can toot through the offer below. Not only will you get access to the bet builder, but you’ll also get your stake refunded in full even if it loses.
The magic Duff
In just one season, Michael Duff has transformed the Tykes into a realistic promotion pusher, far above pre-season expectations of simply steadying the ship when back in the third tier. Duff’s team have become an excellent, gung-ho outfit that recorded 86 points during the regular season. Having overcome Bolton Wanderers with a second-leg victory at Oakwell, Barnsley now head back to a stadium they played at twice in 2015-16, winning both the League One play-off final and EFL Trophy final under the famous arch. A second promotion in three seasons is still on the cards for the very impressive Michael Duff.
Throughout the season, we have seen some good performances and I have been proud of the determination and drive displayed by our staff and players. But we all know that our fans have played a huge part in getting us to where we are now.Barnsley chairman Khaled El-Ahmed on the imprtance the fans have played in this promotion push
Barnsley team news
Michael Duff has a full squad to pick from and barring any last-minute setbacks, the starting line-up should almost write itself.
Luton Town loanee Harry Isted will retain his place in goal, sat behind a back three of Liam Kitching, Mads Andersen, and Burnley loanee Bobby Thomas. Nicky Cadden and Jordan Williams will take up the wing-back roles, with the trio of Herbie Kane, Luca Connell, and Adam Phillips likely to form the midfield three.
Barnsley have a quartet of strikers to choose from as part of the front two. Devante Cole and Manchester City loanee Slobodan Tedić started both play-off games against Bolton Wanderers and could be fancied to form the starting pair again at Wembley. James Norwood and Cardiff City loanee Max Watters are the alternatives.
The greatest comeback you will ever see
The Hillsborough game is a magnificent story of redemption for the entire Sheffield Wednesday squad, and indeed manager Darren Moore who came under severe fire for the first-leg performance after painfully missing out on automatic promotion despite collecting 96 points. Breaking the record for third place in the third tier this season, and now witnessing one of the greatest play-off games in the history of the sport, Owls fans and players should believe that it is their destiny to emerge the victors from this Wembley final against feisty South Yorkshire rivals. They will flock to London in their thousands.
Am I surprised with the work he’s done at Barnsley? No. Why am I not? Because he is thorough and meticulous with his work and a worker and sees and understands the game and he’s very astute with his approach in terms of how he sets his teams up and understanding the strengths and weaknessesDarren Moore on his admiration for Barnsley boss Michael Duff
Sheffield Wednesday team news
The Sheffield Wednesday team sheet on Monday will be incredibly intriguing. Darren Moore’s second-leg team was understandably as attack-heavy as possible from the off. Every single available forward started in a top-heavy 3-4-1-2, and even centre-back Aden Flint was deployed as an additional emergency striker by the end of normal time. There isn’t the need to go so gung-ho from the off at Wembley, but could that second leg have uncovered some hidden truths about the actual best set-up for Wednesday to overcome Barnsley?
Cameron Dawson should retain his place in goal. Blackpool loanee Reece James joined Michael Ihiekwe and Dominic Iorfa in a very dynamic back three at Hillsborough. Moore may choose however to deploy the towering Aden Flint back in defence from the off though and move James further up into midfield or wing-back.
Marvin Johnson feels a certain at left-wing-back. Right-wing-back though is an interesting discussion. Liam Palmer is usually preferred to that, but Sheffield Wednesday found success in the second leg with Callum Paterson instead being deployed out there and with Palmer moved into midfield alongside Barry Bannan. That set-up could be repeated at Wembley, which would leave Will Vaulks on the bench if Josh Windass is once again preferred in his free-roam attacking midfield role.
Lee Gregory had to wear a mask in the second leg but was able to play 109 minutes and make a key impact alongside Michael Smith. There is the option to deploy one of Paterson or Windass up top instead if Darren Moore prefers a different combination.
Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday Cheat Sheet
Priced at 1.44 for a shot on target, Wednesday’s leading attacking outlet Michael Smith could be a shrewd choice to add to any potential bet builder. The former Rotherham man ranks top of Wednesday’s shooting metrics (1.30 shots on target per game) and even managed three shots on target in the miracle comeback against Peterborough.
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Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday bet builder tips
Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday
Only one team has completed a league double over Sheffield Wednesday this season. Only one team has beaten Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in a league game this season. That team is Barnsley.
Michael Duff’s side have proved the real kryptonite of the Owls during their promotion push this season. The Tykes at their best are a frantic, relentless side who give opponents little time to relax on the ball. Midfielders Herbie Kane and Adam Phillips provide key pressing roles out of possession, ready to pounce on the loose ball and supply the strikers making movement further forward. Even if the press is beaten, opponents are faced with a backline of three solid defenders in Liam Kitching, Mads Andersen, and Bobby Thomas, as well as a goalkeeper in Harry Isted who has made a fine impact on loan from Luton Town.
In possession, Barnsley can be direct but are quick with their intent to progress the ball into the final third and penalty area. Nicky Cadden and Jordan Williams provide extreme width in their wing-back roles and switches out to the opposite flank are commonplace in the Barnsley team. Luca Connell typically sits in a deeper midfield role and is a key figure receiving possession from deeper players and providing quality deliveries from both set pieces and open play with his left foot. A set-piece threat is very notable in this Barnsley side. Liam Kitching is often the target, and Bobby Thomas’ long throw is launched deep into the penalty box with the aim of causing chaos. Cadden and Phillips lurk around the edge of the box looking to pounce on loose balls and utilise they threat they provide from their long-range shooting.
Barnsley have a variety of ways of hurting Sheffield Wednesday from both open play and set pieces. In turn, when out in possession, they are an exceptionally well-drilled side under Michael Duff who have a clear defensive structure and are comfortable giving up possession for fast, direct counter-attacking play. An all-South Yorkshire clash at Wembley will make for an exciting occasion this coming Monday, but Sheffield Wednesday may in some ways wish that it could have been anyone else facing them down in London.
Barnsley know exactly what they need to do to see off the Owls for a third time this season.
With so much at stake, play-off finals tend to be low-margin, tense affairs at the end of the season. It would be a shame if this wasn’t one though.
Both Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday have been among League One’s best-attacking outfits in 2022-23, scoring 80 and 81 goals respectively in 46 games. Only the promoted pair of Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town scored more. Both sides possess a plethora of effective striker options, from Devante Cole and James Norwood of Barnsley to Michael Smith and Lee Gregory of Sheffield Wednesday. All four of those players finished on double figures for league goals, likewise Josh Windass for the Owls.
Barnsley’s Luca Connell and Wednesday’s Barry Bannan are key creative cogs in midfield. Nicky Cadden and Marvin Johnson are wing-backs known for their quality deliveries from the left-hand side. Even left-sided defenders Liam Kitching and Reece James have been known to drive forward from the back when in possession for their respective sides.
There is the potential for this play-off final to be a lively affair, similar to the 4-2 thriller that was won by Barnsley back at Oakwell in March. Barnsley games have seen an average of 2.8 goals in League One this season, and Sheffield Wednesday games an average of 2.6. If the shackles are let off this Monday, we could be in for another entertaining meeting between these two from start to finish…
Having only been able to play 32 minutes in the first leg, Lee Gregory started from the off in the Hillsborough leg and played a key role in 108 minutes of action. The 34-year-old had to play with a protective face mask on due to a broken cheekbone, and infamously lost it during the post-game celebrations after Sheffield Wednesday’s miracle comeback at Hillsborough. An urgent appeal sent out on social media soon saw it discovered, and Gregory should have the custom-built mask back available for use in this Monday’s play-off final.
Gregory’s availability is a big boost for the Owls in their hopes of play-off success. His partnership with the towering Michael Smith up top may not appear that conventional at first when assessed on paper but has proved a practical set-up when in action, especially with Josh Windass let loose in a free role just behind. Gregory averages 2.8 shots per 90 for Sheffield Wednesday this season, the vast majority of these coming within 18 yards of the goal. Whilst Smith is considered the main focal point in the team, Gregory is himself a forward capable of a variety of finishes. If Barnsley find themselves prioritising Michael Smith’s threat, that could in turn work even more in Lee Gregory’s favour…
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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