The Sky Blues travel to Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship this weekend. Here’s everything you need to know about our opponents.
Stadium: Oakwell (first opened 1887)
Nickname: The Tykes
Address: Grove Street, Barnsley, S71 1ET
Pitch Size: 110 x 75 yards
Barnsley survived on the final day of the 2019/20 Championship season in dramatic circumstances, defeating promotion-chasing Brentford in injury-time to secure a 21st place finish and retain their second-tier status.
Austrian head coach Gerhard Struber returned to his homeland to bring in winger Dominik Frieser from LASK Linz and full-back Kilian Ludewig on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, with centre-back Michal Helik arriving from Poland and Isaac Christie-Davies signing on a free transfer from Liverpool.
Outgoings include Mallik Wilks to Sky Bet League One side Hull City and forward Jacob Brown to Championship rivals Stoke City but still have plenty of quality in their ranks including Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt.
The Tykes have lost their opening two league games of the season, going down 1-0 at home to Luton Town on the opening day before losing 2-0 to Reading last weekend.
Gerhard Struber was appointed as Barnsley manager in November 2019, leaving his post at Austrian side Wolfsberger AC to take the hotseat at Oakwell.
Struber won the Austrian Bundesliga title as a player and began his coaching career in his homeland with Red Bull Salzburg, leading the club’s academy sides from Under 15 to Under 19 level.
He was then named as joint manager of Salzburg’s feeder club FC Liefering in June 2017, helping the club achieve a fifth-place finish in Austria’s second tier, before taking full control of the club ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The 43-year-old departed Liefering in January 2019 to take charge of Austrian Bundesliga side Wolfsberger AC and guided the club to a third-place finish in the league to help them qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stages for the first time in the club’s history.
After another excellent start to the 2019/20 campaign with Wolfsberger, Struber replaced Daniel Stendel at Oakwell mid-season, helping the Tykes retain their Championship status, against the odds, with the club seven points adrift of safety and rooted to the bottom of the table when he arrived in November.
With Barnsley, Struber has managed 36 games recording 14 wins, seven draws and 15 defeats.
Last Six Games
Lost – Chelsea 6-0 Barnsley (Carabao Cup)
Lost – Reading 2-0 Barnsley (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Middlesbrough 0-2 Barnsley (Carabao Cup)
Lost – Barnsley 0-1 Luton Town (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Barnsley 1-0 Nottingham Forest (Carabao Cup)
Lost – Newcastle United 2-1 Barnsley (Pre-Season)
Last Time We Met
The two sides last met in March 2019 playing out a 2-2 draw at Oakwell, with Barnsley eventually going on to secure promotion to the Championship at the end of the season.
Barnsley took the lead inside 10 minutes when Dujon Sterling failed to clear his lines, allowing Ryan Hedges to play in Mamadou Thiam who in-turn squared the ball to Alex Mowatt for a simple finish from seven yards out.
The Sky Blues drew level on 35 minutes when Jordy Hiwula chested down Brandon Mason’s pinpoint cross, before smashing the ball past Adam Davies on the half-volley.
Liam Kelly was then caught in possession deep inside his own half with the ball falling kindly for Thiam who ran into the box before having his shot pushed away by Lee Burge.
The Tyles restored their lead just after half time, when Hedges cut the ball back from the left to Cauley Woodrow who finished well into the bottom right corner.
City were level once again just past the hour mark when Luke Thomas collected a loose ball inside the penalty area before creating space for a shot and lashing an effort past Davies.
The hosts pushed for a winning goal when Ben Williams tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area, but Burge did well to get behind the full-back’s powerful effort.
A short back-pass from Liam Lindsay almost allowed Bakayoko to snatch the points for Mark Robins side, but the striker couldn’t quite sort his feet out with Davies rushing towards him.
There was one final chance for the Sky Blues to take all three points in injury-time when Kelly curled a delightful cross into the penalty area only for Davies to make a superb save to deny Dom Hyam’s header from close range.
Sky Blues Wins – 29
Draws – 14
Barnsley Wins – 18
Current Barnsley forward Conor Chaplin enjoyed a season-long spell with the Sky Blues before moving to the South Yorkshire club last summer.
Chaplin began his career with Portsmouth and enjoyed a four-season stay at Fratton Park, making 122 appearances for the club scoring 25 goals, which included winning the Sky Bet League Two title in 2016/17.
He joined City in August 2018, signing an initial loan deal which would be made permanent the following January, and enjoyed a fine season with the Sky Blues.
The forward netted eight goals in 32 appearances, which included impressive free kicks against Bradford City and Plymouth Argyle, before leaving for Championship side Barnsley in July 2019.
With Barnsley, the 23-year-old impressed last season, scoring 13 goals in 47 appearances, which included scoring his first career hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers.
Another player who currently plays for the Tykes is midfielder Luke Thomas who enjoyed a season-long loan spell with the Sky Blues, before signing a permanent deal at Oakwell the following season.
Thomas progressed through Cheltenham Town’s academy before joining Championship side Derby County in January 2016 and was loaned to National League North side Gloucester City for the remainder of the season.
He returned to the Rams ahead of the 2017/18 season and made two appearances for the club, before joining the Sky Blues on a half-season loan in August 2018.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season under Mark Robins, with the loan eventually extended until the end of the season, making 44 appearances and scoring five goals, which included a fine effort against his current employers in the last meeting between the two sides.
He signed for Barnsley on a permanent basis last summer, scoring on his debut for the Tykes in a 1-0 win against Fulham and would go on to make 41 appearances for the club last term scoring two goals.
Joshua Smith will be the man in the middle on Saturday afternoon, taking charge of his fourth game of the 2020/21 season.
This will be Smith’s first time refereeing the Sky Blues, having only refereed in the Football League since last season, with this weekend’s fixture marking Smith’s first appointment as a referee in the second tier.
This season, Smith has awarded four yellow cards in his three matches so far in the Carabao Cup and Sky Bet League One.
He will be assisted by Jonathan Hunt and Matthew McGrath with Stephen Martin acting as fourth official.