Scout report: How in-form Barnsley have jumped above Sunderland in the League One promotion race

Sunderland will face promotion rivals Barnsley at Oakwell tonight - but what should they expect?

By Joe Nicholson
Tuesday, 12 March, 2019, 10:53
Barnsley have won 11 of their last 16 league games, drawing the other five.

Just four points separate the two sides ahead of the League One fixture, with both clubs battling for a place in the top two.

Like Sunderland, the Tykes will be without several key players for the fixture but will still pose a significant threat on home turf.

We take a closer look at Daniel Stendel's side ahead of a big night in the third tier.

What system will Barnsley play?

The Tykes have tweaked their formation in recent weeks following an injury to top scorer Kieffer Moore, who will miss the remainder of the campaign.

Barnsley have operated in a 4-4-2 formation for most of the season, a system which has allowed their attacking players to flourish and stability at the back.

Stendel's side have conceded just 28 goals in League One this season, the lowest in the division, while only Luton have scored more goals in the third tier.

Moore's injury has forced the Tykes to make a tactical switch though, with Stendel deploying a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation in recent weeks.

Mike-Steven Bahre occupied the number 10 position against Accrington Stanley last time out, playing behind in-form striker Cauley Woodrow, who has scored five goals in his last five games.

Do Barnsley have any injury worries?

The Tykes have no fresh injury concerns but will be without several key players for the meeting with Sunderland.

Moore, who has netted 18 league goals this campaign, won't play again this term after suffering a head injury at Gillingham last month.

Winger Jacob Brown and midfielder Cameron McGeehan will also miss the game through suspension following Barnsley's trip to Southend at the start of March.

Brown was shown a straight red card at Roots Hall while McGeehan was found guilty of violent conduct after the game.

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Who are Barnsley's key players?

Former Leeds United midfielder Alex Mowatt has started every league game this term, chipping in with five league goals and six assists.

Wide man Mamadou Thiam has also been influential this season, while Woodrow's form has soared since his permanent move from Fulham in January.

Centre-back pairing Ethan Pinnock and Liam Lindsay have also been crucial to Barnsley's impressive defensive record.Who is Barnsley's manager and what can we expect from them?

German manager Stendel took charge at Oakwell in 2018 following the club's relegation to League One.

The 44-year-old enjoyed an impressive playing career in his home land, representing Hamburg and Hannover 96.

Stendel took his first managerial job in 2016, when he was appointed at Hannover, but was sacked a year later.

The German has flourished in South Yorkshire, though, and the Tykes haven't lost a league game since December 8.

What form have Barnsley been in?

Following their defeat at Wycombe in early December, Barnsley have won 11 of their 16 games in League One, drawing the other five.

That run has seen the Tykes storm into the automatic promotion places, four points ahead of Sunderland.

After back-to-back goalless draws against Burton and Portsmouth, Barnsley have scored five goals without reply against Southend and Accrington Stanley in their last two fixtures.

Last six league games: WWDDWW