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Barnsley are back in the Championship following a two-year absence after a quite remarkable 2016 so far and are the visitors for Brentford’s 4,000th league game.

At the end of November last year, the Tykes were bottom of League One after 20 games and seemingly heading for a place in the fourth tier of English football for the first time since 1979.

However, they engineered an amazing turnaround – winning 17 and drawing five of their remaining 26 matches to pip Scunthorpe to the final play-off place on goal difference.

They went on to beat Walsall 6-1 on aggregate in the play-off semi-finals before overcoming Millwall 3-1 in the final to clinch promotion.

That was their second trip to Wembley inside two months after they hit back from 1-0 down to beat Oxford 3-2 in the last Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.

All that happened despite the upheaval of a change of manager when Lee Johnson left for Bristol City in early February to be replaced by Paul Heckingbottom.

The good form carried on into the start of this season and the Tykes were third at the end of August after winning three of their first five games.

Two more wins maintained the momentum but things have been tougher since then with five defeats in their last six games dropping them into the bottom half of the table.

Barnsley have played most of their football at this level since 1980, apart from seven years in the third tier and one season in the Premier League (1997/98).

They can also point to being FA Cup winners – lifting the trophy in 1912 after beating West Brom 1-0 in a replay at Bramall Lane following a goalless draw at Crystal Palace.

WHO’S IN CHARGE

Paul Heckingbottom was appointed manager of his boyhood club in the summer, after a spell in caretaker charge following the sudden departure of Lee Johnson.

The former Barnsley player initially joined the coaching staff in charge of the Under-18s, before progressing to the Under-21s in 2012/13.

He moved on to become senior development manager and had already enjoyed a spell in temporary charge last year following the departure of Danny Wilson, before being asked to step up again when Johnson left.

In a long playing career, the former Manchester United youth team defender made more than 100 appearances for Darlington and numbered Bradford, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich among his clubs – as well as the Tykes.

WE’VE MET BEFORE

Barnsley have not been frequent visitors in recent years – with only five visits to Griffin Park since 1980 and none since Beesotted started producing post-match videos!

It is just over 10-and-a-half years since their last trip to TW8 for a League One promotion battle in March 2006 which we won 3-1.

Ricky Newman put us ahead early on and Lloyd Owusu doubled the lead before the break. Former Brentford loan striker Tommy Wright pulled one back midway through the second half but Owusu sealed the victory with a late penalty. The result left the Bees second in the table – six points behind Southend and three clear of Huddersfield, with Barnsley a point further back in fourth.

We had drawn 1-1 at Oakwell in the first month of the season with Michael Turner diverting a shot from future Bee into his own net to put Barnsley ahead, only for Owusu to head home a Paul Brooker cross to equalise a minute later. Tykes captain Paul Reid was sent off for a second yellow card late on. It left Brentford top of the table on goal difference from four other teams with Barnsley in 13th place.

You can enjoy the highlights here.

One of our most memorable meetings came towards the end of our last season at this level before the present spell – in May 1993. Brentford had crashed down the table from 10th at the turn of the year into the relegation zone. We had failed to win a home game in nine attempts since Boxing Day and Barnsley were our final visitors.

On a dramatic day, two goals from Gary Blissett, one a penalty, and another from then record signing Joe Allon ended the rot to give us a vital three points with a 3-1 win (Gareth Williams replying) and lift us out of the bottom three – putting our survival hopes back into our own hands. Barnsley were safe in mid-table. However, a week later, the nightmare scenario came true as we surrendered 4-1 at Bristol City to be relegated by a solitary point.

You can enjoy extended highlights here.

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT US

BBC Radio Sheffield’s Barnsley reporter Adam Oxley looks forward to his first Bees-Tykes game by giving us the lowdown on the Oakwell side’s season so far and his memories of watching Alfie Mawson.

Q How would you assess Barnsley’s start to the season and how do you see it unfolding – mid-table safety, relegation struggle or play-off push and why?

A Quite literally Barnsley have gone from one extreme to another. Five wins from their opening seven league games propelled the newly-promoted Reds into third but since then, they’ve picked up just one point in six games. The head coach Paul Heckingbottom hit the nail on the head last week when he talked about the recent poor results adding a dose of reality to Barnsley’s situation. The club has had a remarkable year, winning the JPT and the play-offs at Wembley having risen from the foot of League One, and this should not, and is not, forgotten by the fans and the club despite the tough run.

Before the start of the season, given the size and spending power of most teams in the Championship, I thought Barnsley would survive relegation but only by a few places. Now after 13 games, and as much as I hope they can finish higher, I’m going to stick with my original prediction, which would still be a very successful first season back in the second tier.

Q What memories do you have – good or bad – of previous trips to Brentford to see Barnsley either for work or as a fan? 

A This will be the first meeting between the Bees and the Reds in my nine seasons covering Barnsley for BBC local radio. I was the Doncaster Rovers reporter for a couple of years before making the switch across South Yorkshire and I just about recall memories of two away victories in quick succession at Griffin Park in my first full season behind the mic in 2006. Hopefully those successful trips a decade ago will stand me in good stead this weekend as Barnsley really need to get back to winning ways.

Q Which Bees players will you be most wary of?

A Brentford have had a really solid start to the season, arguably punching above their weight to knock on the door of the top six. Scott Hogan has obviously got the headlines with his goals so Barnsley’s inexperienced back four will need to be on their game to stop him adding to his already impressive tally.

I really like the goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. I’ve watched him several times for Southend over recent years and I think the Bees did some great business acquiring his services in the summer. Similarly, Romaine Sawyers also appears to be a good signing from Walsall. He’s a strong, skilful player who I’ve enjoyed watching for the Saddlers. It’s interesting that like Barnsley, Brentford have recruited well from lower leagues with players like Bentley and Sawyers, and this is crucial for teams with smaller budgets.

Q Who should Bees fans look out for particularly on the Barnsley side – any of the new signings or people from last season’s team?

A The majority of Barnsley’s squad lacks Championship experience, some in fact have arrived straight from non-League, but that hasn’t stopped the Reds competing well at this level. They keep things simple, try to put square pegs in square holes, usually play 4-4-2, and work really hard for each other under a boss in Paul Heckingbottom, who is a childhood Barnsley fan and former player.

Captain Conor Hourihane has been leading from the front, building on his excellent form from last season with more goals and more assists. His absence last Saturday against Fulham was notable, as he is a box-to-box player who takes an excellent free-kick and corner.

Despite the arrival this summer of Tom Bradshaw from Walsall, who will of course be very well known to Bees boss Dean Smith, and Adam Armstrong on loan from Newcastle, who have both impressed and scored goals, and the presence of last season’s top scorer Sam Winnall, it’s been last year’s forward signing Marley Watkins who has stood out for me up front. Like Hourihane, he contributes with goals and assists, has a phenomenal work ethic, is effective both up front and wide right and seems to work well with whoever he partners up top.

Q How much of an impact did Alfie Mawson have while at Oakwell? 

A Alfie Mawson had a superb season helping Barnsley gain promotion to the Championship and in a way, it was a surprise he didn’t leave before the start of this season. He was an excellent character around the club, a really consistent performer in the heart of the defence who contributed goals and built a solid partnership with Barnsley-born, former Halifax centre half Marc Roberts.

Mawson was always going to be tough to replace but Roberts has really stepped up and has been one of the outstanding performers for the Reds this season. Ex-Torquay defender Angus MacDonald immediately got his chance when Mawson left and has done well, given the leap up the divisions, but he was dropped for fellow new signing Adam Jackson to make his debut on Tuesday night against Newcastle. Jackson impressed against the high-flying Magpies so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod on Saturday.

More Barnsley views

My score prediction is 2-2. We’re on a sticky run but playing OK. Hope we both stay up and stick it up the footballing ‘elite’.

Read more from Gareth Lovett of West Stand Bogs fanzine

TEAM NEWS

Goalkeeper Adam Davies and central defender Marc Roberts are the only two ever-presents remaining at Oakwell this season after 13 league and one cup game.

Both should figure again on Saturday with Adam Jackson, a summer signing from Middlesbrough, hoping to keep his place alongside Roberts after making his club debut on Tuesday against Newcastle, as mentioned above.

James Bree came in for Cole Kpekawa, who dropped to the bench, at left-back in the same match, with the defence completed by another summer arrival – Andy Yiadom, who arrived from Barnet.

Three of Tuesday’s midfielders – captain Conor Hourihane, Adam Hammill and Ryan Kent – were starting their 12th Championship game of the season, with the last two coming on as a substitute in the other match, with Sam Morsy also in the side. Josh Scowen, who had started every previous game, was suspended after being sent off against Fulham last Saturday.

Hammill appeared to react angrily to being substituted in the 71st minute by Tom Bradshaw (pictured below) so there may be a question mark over whether he retains his place on Saturday.

Bradshaw, who will be well known to Dean Smith, Romaine Sawyers and Rico Henry from his time at Walsall and rumoured to be a Brentford target at one point, will be pushing for a start, although Sam Winnall and Marley Watkins played up front against the Magpies.

Winnall was last season’s top scorer with 21 League One goals in 36 full and seven substitute appearances and another two strikes in the play-offs.

He is joint leading scorer this season on three in the Championship along with Watkins and Hourihane.

On loan Newcastle striker Adam Armstrong could also return up front after missing Tuesday’s game against his parent club.

Apart from Bradshaw and Kpekawa, Tuesday’s bench also featured defender Angus MacDonald, midfielders Jared Bird and Ryan Williams (not the ex-Bee) striker Elliot Lee, son of Rob,  and goalkeeper Nick Townsend.

Defender Aidan White and midfielder Saidy Janko are both out injured.

IAN WESTBROOK

@ianwestbrook

PUBS IN BRENTFORD

For Barnsley fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.

There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.

The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.

Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.

The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).

There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.

Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.

You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the tube and Overground here.