The race for automatic promotion in League One has seen supporters of the five clubs involved experience a roller-coaster of emotions this season.
Barnsley looked to be in a superb position to finish in the top-two alongside runaway leaders Luton Town last month yet by dropping points in their last two outings against Coventry City and Burton Albion, Daniel Stendel’s side have squandered their advantage over the likes of Sunderland, Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic.
Although the Black Cats failed to fully capitalise on the Tykes’ 2-1 defeat to the Brewers, their draw against the same opponent in mid-week was still good enough to see them to leapfrog their rivals in the standings. With Jack Ross’s side now holding a one-point lead over Barnsley and still having one more game to play between now and May, it is looking increasingly likely that the Yorkshire-based outfit may have to settle for the play-offs.
However, despite having a good recent relationship with the competition having achieved promotion via the final in 2016, the Tykes’ entire season could be shaped by the outcome of their clash with Fleetwood Town at Oakwell on Saturday. If they fail to secure a victory against the Cod Army, it could be disastrous for their hopes of making an immediate return to the Championship.
By embarking on a bad run of form towards the crescendo of a season, it can be extremely difficult for a side to bounce back when they enter the play-offs. For Barnsley, the last thing that they want is to enter a two-legged clash with either Charlton, Portsmouth or Doncaster Rovers without any confidence as all three of those sides have experienced a resurgence in recent weeks.
Therefore, by beating Fleetwood convincingly later, the Tykes could build up some much-needed momentum for their remaining fixtures in League One.
What do you think Barnsley fans? Can your side still secure automatic promotion? Or do they now need to prepare for the lottery of the play-offs in May? Get in touch below.