Reading look to boost their survival bid with a trip to relegation rivals Barnsley


Reading could move eight points clear of the Championship relegation zone with a win against a Barnsley side that are unbeaten in their last five home games.

The two teams are separated by just five points going into Saturday’s clash at Oakwell, with Reading coming out on top in their last meeting thanks to a late goal by John Swift. 

Paul Ince’s side have since returned to winning ways with a 1-0 win against Blackburn last time out, picking up a second victory in charge since his appointment as interim boss back in February. 

Hosts Barnsley have experienced a positive run of form too, picking up wins against Middlesbrough, Bristol City and fellow strugglers Hull City in recent weeks, as well as a surprise draw against league leaders Fulham.

Back-to-back defeats for Poya Asbaghi’s men here could prove to be a massive blow to their survival chances. But despite a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United prior to the international break, the Yorkshire club are not out of the fight yet. 

However, they cannot afford to slip up to those directly above, otherwise, their three-year stay in the second-tier will likely come to an end. 

The likes of Peterborough and Derby will be keeping one eye open on the fixture too, with both sides needing each club to drop points in the run-in if they are to avoid the dreaded drop to League One. 

Team News

After a two week break due to international duties, the teams have had extra time to get returning players back up to speed ahead of the season finale. 

However, Barnsley will still be without striker and last season’s top scorer Cauley Woodrow. The 27-year-old has suffered a rough time with injuries this campaign, leaving him out of action since early December. With the lowest goals tally in the league, Barnsley need their number nine back in contention as soon as possible. 

Aapo Halme is also sidelined due to injury with the Finnish defender having played a bit-part role this year. 

The visitors will have to do without regulars Andy Rinomhota and Yakou Méïté with the pair ruled out for the rest of the season due to respective knee and ankle injuries.  Midfielder Alen Halilović is another absentee for this weekend’s game, however, Baba Rahman could be set to feature after returning to training in recent days. 

Views from the managers

Poya Asbaghi

Barnsley’s head coach has highlighted the importance of the clash with Reading but refuses to claim their season will be over if they fail to pick up all three points.

“I think everyone understands the table and where we are and who are our direct opponents. If we were about to lose this game, it’s not like we would give up – we’d have eight points to make up with seven games left, and bigger miracles have happened.”

Paul Ince

Meanwhile, Ince has followed a similar thought process to that of the man in the opposing dugout. With eight games to go, the former Manchester United man has emphasised the need for composure and for his players to be prepared for the challenge ahead.

“Every game we’re going to play from now on is a big game. But we’ve got to be calm and cool. And we’ve got to focus on our performance and what we do.

“If we can get the win on Saturday – great. We can go into Tuesday with a bit of a gap. But whatever the result at Barnsley, we will still have to roll our sleeves up and look for a result at home to Stoke on the Tuesday night.”


With Reading taking all three points the last time these two sides met back in October, it is no surprise to see when looking at the recent history between both clubs. 

The Royals are unbeaten against this weekend’s opponents since March 2014, securing five wins and four draws in that time. 

For Barnsley fans, it is harsh reading going into this all-important tie, with the Tykes’ last home victory against Reading dating back to September 1998. 

If there was ever a time to break such a record, now is the time to do so.

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