Will Barnsley and Portsmouth stumble? Form guide, stats and pressure points that could still see Sunderland promoted

Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett
Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett
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Peterborough United's late equaliser on Monday afternoon took Sunderland's promotion hopes out of their own hands.

They now require Barnsley to slip up and surely need three wins of their own.

So how likely is that?

We take a closer look at the numbers...

BARNSLEY

Automatic promotion is technically in Portsmouth's hands but Sunderland know they can change that themselves at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

What the Black Cats can't control is whether Daniel Stendel's side reach a points total they can't surpass.

With a four-point advantage, Barnsley know two wins will give them an exceptional chance of promotion.

Their fixtures...

v Blackpool (H)

Barnsley face Blackpool at Oakwell this weekend looking to improve their strong home record even further.

They will be confident, given that Terry McPhillips' side now cannot reach the play-offs and so have nothing but pride to play for in this contest.

Their recent form has been indifferent, with just five points from their last five games.

Still, they come into this clash on the back of a good win away at local rivals Fleetwood, and their defensive record remains the best in the division outside of the top five.

v Bristol Rovers (A)

Stendel's side travel to the Memorial Stadium on the final day for what could be a hugely significant future.

Four points clear of danger currently, Rovers look as if they will survive but given they have a tricky tie away at Fleetwood on Saturday, it is by no means out of the question they could go into this game unsure of their future.

What kind of threat they will offer is hard to assess.

They have been much improved since Graham Coughlan took charge and prolific January signing Jonson Clarke-Harris has given their attack a much-needed focal point.

However, they have the second worst home record in the league, with just five wins all campaign.

That will come as little surprise to Sunderland fans who saw their side win comfortably on two occasions earlier in the season.

How Barnsley are playing...

A thumping 3-0 win over Plymouth could not have come at a better time for Barnsley, who will take real momentum into the final two games of the season.

Their form over five games is good, taking ten points in total.

There has been an impressive win over Fleetwood but also some performances that have shown they are not infallible.

They were beaten comfortably by Burton and their 2-1 win over Shrewsbury had more than a touch of fortune, with Stendel after the game hailing the 'best goalkeeper in the league' after another stellar showing from Adam Davies.

Their performance data over those five games suggests that their attacking threat is as good as it has been all season, though that it is coming at the expense of defensive control.

Their average goals-per-game in the league this season as a whole is 1.78, with goals conceded 0.82. Their expected goals-per-game is 1.69, 1.13 when it comes to goals against.

In the last five games they have scored at an impressive 2.4 goals-per-game, conceding 1.6. But their expected tallies are 1.6 and 1.34, so their opponents are getting opportunities.

Of course, at this stage of the season, producing results is more important than performances but it does suggest some level of vulnerability.

The return of centre-back Liam Lindsay against Plymouth is perhaps key.

Remarkably, Barnsley have never kept a clean sheet in a game without him since he signed last summer.

PORTSMOUTH

The form team in the division after seven straight wins.

Their fate is in their hands.

Their fixtures...

v Sunderland (A)

A big chance for the Black Cats to immediately put themselves back in the mix.

Pompey have the edge after two wins this season but in both games Sunderland have shown they can compete for large periods.

v Peterborough United (H)

Home advantage will be key in what could be a tricky encounter for Kenny Jackett's side.

Peterborough are in good form, unbeaten in five and with three wins in that time.

Crucially, Doncaster's shock defeat to Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night means they remain very much in the play-off hunt. Getting a positive result in this one will be key and in Marcus Maddison, they have the talent to hurt any side.

v Accrington Stanley (H)

That 2-1 win at the Keepmoat Stadium means that Stanley's League One status is all but secure for another season.

A trip to promotion-chasing Pompey will be a big challenge, mentally and physically, after such a demanding season.

How they are playing...

Their form is imposing and a remarkable turnaround given that their automatic promotion hopes looked to be in tatters seven games ago.

Kenny Jackett has struck upon a winning formula again and key to that has been the return of Brett Pitman, unexpectedly in a number ten role.

Their goalscoring form is excellent, with 12 goals scored and just five conceded in their last five games. Their expected goals-per-game is an equally dangerous 2.1 It suggests a side creating plenty of chances to hurt their opposition

Like Barnsley, however, they are giving more chances to their opponents than they have done for much of the season and that was obvious in the Coventry City win, when only a fine clearance on the line from Nathan Thompson prevented them from sinking to a 2-0 deficit.

Against Burton they benefited from a late goal with suspicions of offside and handball, while both Shrewsbury and Wycombe Wanderers created plenty in their defeats.

Unquestionably, this is a side that has shown excellent resilience and an outstanding ability to win tight contests.

It is a big hurdle for Sunderland to clear on Saturday but given their home record over the course of the season, one they should have no fear in taking on.

Verdict

Sunderland are clearly outsiders for second now but get to 93 points and they will have every chance.

Barnsley are an impressive side more than capable of going on to secure two wins but pressure has told on many sides this year and for all their strength, they are not infallible.

It looks a big challenge for Sunderland but it is far from over yet.

All stats courtesy of wyscout.com