Preview | Barnsley v Swansea City
Swansea City will look to secure a positive result to bring back to the Liberty when they take on Barnsley in the first leg of their play-off semi-final at Oakwell tonight (8.15pm).
For the second season running the Swans have put themselves in contention for a return to the Premier League, and will be hoping to make the most of the opportunity having suffered semi-final disappointment against Brentford last season.
Steve Cooper’s side boasted one of the best away records in the Championship during the league season, and that included picking up a 2-0 win over the Tykes back in January.
In fact, the Swans are unbeaten against Barnsley since losing the 2006 League One play-off final on penalties to the Yorkshire club.
But the head coach and his players know that will count for nothing come kick-off time tonight, with so much at stake.
Both these clubs have experienced promotion via the play-offs within the last decade, and they will know a good performance and result tonight will be a boost to aspirations of a repeat.
Swansea City are without Brandon Cooper after the defender suffered an injury in training, but Ben Cabango is set to be available having trained after missing out against Watford.
Andre Ayew and Marc Guehi returned from injury against the Hornets after hamstring and groin problems respectively.
Steve Cooper: “I know people will look at the results between us during the season, but we cannot be thinking about that.
“These games will be completely different and our league results will have no bearing on how these games will go.
“They are a good side, as are all four who made the play-offs, and we know we will have to be ready and prepared to work very hard and do those non-negotiables you need in football.
“We have a lot of respect for Barnsley, but we know we are a good side too and what we are capable of doing when we commit to our plan and how we want to play.”
Valerien Ismael: “We played them twice in the space of a short time when Swansea were really strong, but the momentum has changed,” said Ismael, looking back on their previous meetings.
“Daryl Dike and Carlton Morris coming in has given us more options and we’ve got a desire now to change the story of the season against Swansea.
“It’s an incredible achievement to finish the season where we have done after how it started and what happened last season.
“I really hope we can now get a big reward in the play-offs because, when you believe in something, you can achieve some great results.”
Remember the last time?
Swansea City stretched their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions as goals from Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe saw them beat Barnsley and remain second in the Championship table in January of this year.
At the end of a scrappy opening half Cabango netted the opener with a glancing header from a Connor Roberts long throw to register his third goal of the season.
And in-form striker Lowe took his tally to nine for the campaign, with seven coming in seven appearances, when he calmly capitalised on a slip-up in the Barnsley defence.
The result ensured the Swans remained second in the table, four points behind leaders Norwich and four points clear of the teams in the play-off places.
They also racked up a 14th league clean sheet – and 15th in all competitions – with their latest shut-out, and further extended a 15-year unbeaten streak against the Tykes.
1 - Swansea were the only Championship team to complete a league double over Barnsley.
15 - Swansea City have not lost to Barnsley in 15 years, last tasting defeat to the Tykes when losing the League One play-off final on penalties in 2006.