PREVIEW: Wanderers v Barnsley

Wanderers launch their League One promotion play-off bid when they take on Barnsley in the first leg of their semi-final at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The in-form Whites will be looking to try and get past a Barnsley side, which finished one place above them in the League One table, and reach the final against either Sheffield Wednesday or Peterborough United.

Ian Evatt’s men go to Oakwell next Friday night for the second leg of the tie with the winners heading to Wembley on Monday, 29 May.

Manager quotes

Ian Evatt:

“We’re in good spirts and form. The team are coming to the boil at the right time, and I see lots of positives – but Barnsley are a very good team and it’s going to be a challenging game.

“I think we know a lot about each other. At the end of this, we’ll have played each other five times so we know exactly what’s coming.

“I don’t think Michael (Duff) is going to change too much and I don’t think we will – maybe one or two tweaks in terms of press and strategies but I think that too will differ between the home and the away game.

“But we’ll be ready and for us it’s about our own performance and playing well.

“I think both games are going to be tight games. Two very good teams and may the best team win. I just hope there’s no controversy or bad decisions that sway the tie either way, just the best team over the two games deserves to win and hopefully that’s us.”

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Barnsley manager Michael Duff:

“I’ve been looking forward to this for three weeks. No matter how you dress it up to the players or whoever over the last few games, we all knew it was play-offs. It’s what we’ve been planning for, and now it’s about two cup finals.

“I think it’ll be two tight games. I don’t think either of us can take anything from the previous three encounters.

“It’s going to be a sell-out for both games. The atmosphere will be great at both grounds. This is what we want don’t we? It’s what we are all in this game for. These are the games we want to play. Let’s go and attack this opportunity.”

Team News

Wanderers’ boss Ian Evatt confirmed that Gethin Jones will be ruled out of the play-offs after limping off in last weekend’s win Bristol Rovers with a hamstring injury which will keep the defender out for the rest of the campaign.

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Captain Ricardo Almeida Santos returned to action to get 45 minutes under his belt at Rovers has had no reaction to the thigh injury which had kept him out for seven games.

Likewise, Evatt confirmed that Eoin Toal has had no reaction since his return to the fold after a month out.

Barnsley are checking on the fitness of defender Mads Andersen – sent off when Wanderers won at Oakwell in January – who has missed the last two games with injury.

Top scorer Devante Cole took a knock in last week’s loss to Peterborough but is hopeful of shaking that off to feature on Saturday.

Form guide

Wanderers cemented their fifth-place finish last weekend with a 3-2 victory away at Bristol Rovers courtesy of goals from Shola Shoretire, Dan Nlundulu and Aaron Morley.

The Whites go into the play-offs in fine form, with just one defeat in their last 10 games and four wins in their last six games.

Barnsley concluded the regular season with a 2-0 home defeat to fellow play-off contenders Peterborough United.

The Tykes – safe in the play-offs for a number of weeks – have won one of their last five games to finish fourth in the table with 86 points.

The sides have met three times this season with Barnsley winning a first-round FA Cup at the UniBol but Wanderers taking four points from the two league games, which included a 3-0 victory at Oakwell at the turn of the year.


Referee: Andrew Kitchen

Assistant referees: Justin Amey and Joe Simpson

Fourth Official: Tom Reeves


Saturday, 3pm


Wanderers are expecting a near full house on Saturday but tickets are still available to buy, with details HERE


Supporters living outside of the UK can watch the game live via BWFC iFollow with a match pass, which can be purchased HERE

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