Barnsley F.C v Tranmere Rovers F.C – The match preview
Sunday 10th January 2021
Rovers’ first game of the year was supposed to be a league encounter away to the struggling league opposition Colchester United. However, due to the amount of COVID-19 related cases the hosts had experienced in the upcoming stages, it was frustratingly called off after the Rovers team and media staff had made the long journey to Essex.
This hasn’t stopped the fact that Keith Hill’s side will be away from home for the first performance of the new year. The Whites travel to South Yorkshire this weekend to play an FA Cup tie against Barnsley, a Championship outfit who have strived this campaign under the guidance of Frenchman Valerien Ismael.
Tranmere will be hoping to knock them back with an iconic FA Cup victory this weekend, Hill will want to show his managerial qualities against his former club and the Rovers players will also want to impress as they aim to start the year off in a positive manner.
Team news –
The visitors are in relatively good shape, regardless of an arguable poor run of form. However, there are a few absentees with cases of COVID-19 present and there are little niggling injuries. These players remain unnamed.
In his pre-match press conference, Hill stated ‘We’re suffering from injuries, illness and COVID issues. That presents a challenge for us in itself but also an opportunity for faces who have lacked game time to come in and impress, thus there is a slight positive’.
The hosts –
The Reds are managed by Valerien Ismael, the Frenchman who was appointed the manager of the Oakwell stadium club last year after impressing on foreign shores. The 45-year-old has managed good European outfits such as LASK, Hannover and Wolfsburg. As an athlete, he was a centre-half, Ismael featured for clubs such as Crystal Palace and Bayern Munich after progressing through the Strasbourg youth system.
Last season, Barnsley flirted with relegation but miraculously managed to survive in the Championship. This has been described in the interview I have done with a long-serving fan as his ‘proudest moment supporting the club’. Two wins against great league opposition, with last-minute goals, sealed the club’s safety.
In the summer, it was obvious that they didn’t want to face the same frustrating experiences. Thus, they bolstered their squad with the signings of full-back Callum Brittain from MK and midfielder Matty James from Leicester City. James’ loan has expired but Brittain continues to impress.
The South Yorkshire side have started this campaign off in an exceptional fashion. They are currently positioned 9th, three points away from the playoffs and in the cup competitions that they have featured in Ismael’s men have managed to progress to the third round of the EFL Cup. They beat Nottingham Forest and Middlesborough before getting beat 6-0 against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The hosts’ ‘one to watch’ is top scorer Cauley Woodrow. The 26-year-old forward began to play his football in South Yorkshire with a loan spell in 2018, before signing on a permanent basis. In this campaign the Hemel-Hempstead born playmaker has 13 goal involvements in 22 goals, netting 9 and assisting 4.
The club has won many football league promotions, their last being in 2019 when they were crowned as the league one runners up. They have also competed in the Premier League, for a season, in the 1997/98 campaign. Barnsley have also won the football league trophy, on top of their FA Cup win when they beat West Bromwich Albion at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in 1912.
The ‘man in black’ this weekend is Oliver Langford, the established championship official who will be aided by his assistants Matthew McGrath and Phillip Dermott. So far this season, Langford has officiated sixteen fixtures in competitions ranging from the Championship and the EFL Cup. In these encounters the official, who has done his job in a Premier League game before, has awarded 74 yellow cards and 3 red cards. Scott Oldham is this Sunday’s fourth official.
Head to head:
The two clubs have met on 54 occasions, this weekend’s hosts with a better record than their visitors. The first encounter dates back to late August 1932, Tranmere travelling to South Yorkshire for a Division Three North game but unfortunately leaving with a scoreline of a 2-1 defeat.
Rovers wins – 14
Draws – 17
Barnsley wins – 23
The latest competitive meeting was played at Prenton Park, a league one encounter in 2006. Former Tranmere manager Mike Jackson featured for the Whites that day and former Rovers playmaker Chris Shuker made a brilliant assist with a beautiful cross into the box for the unmarked Paul Heckingbottom to ‘net home’.
I, unfortunately, think that the hosts will be too strong for Tranmere in this cup tie, Barnsley being a striving Championship outfit who will not be willing to allow any hopes of a miracle of the cup ‘upset’. I do imagine that it will be a close game and although I believe the visitors will lose, I feel like Keith Hill will set his team up strongly.
Team prediction: Davies, MacDonald, Nelson, Clarke, Ridehalgh, Spearing, Lloyd, Feeney, Blackett-Taylor, Morris, Vaughan.
Scoreline prediction: Barnsley 3 Tranmere 1
How can you watch or listen to this cup tie?
Football fans can spectate this encounter on The FA Player, which is a website free of charge.
Both clubs will provide iFollow radio coverage, at the cost of £2.50. Phil Wilkinson and Rob Edwards will commentate from the Oakwell Stadium if you’d like to tune in to Tranmere’s radio commentary.
The home of this Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie. The Oakwell Stadium.
Thank you very much for reading,
All the very best in these unprecedented moments,