On the last day of last season, it took a stumbled-in goal in time at the death in a game against Brentford to keep Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship. Things are so different now.

The Tykes had head coach Gerhard Struber leave to take on the challenge of managing MLS side New York Red Bulls in October last year. They replaced him with Valerian Ismael, formerly of Austrian side LASK and German outfit Wolfsburg.

Ismael’s brand of direct and dangerous football has made the Tykes a side to be feared and the South Yorkshire outfit now sit 5th in the Championship table and a good bet to keep in the play-off race over the final seven games of the 2020/21 campaign.

Barnsley run-in to the end of season

Yesterday saw the Oakwell outfit fight back to a good draw against fellow play-off side Reading. The Royals had taken the lead through Ovie Ejaria (34′) and were good for their half-time advantage.

However, the Tykes continued their harry and press style and afforded Reading very little to no time to compose themselves. That pressure paid off with Alex Mowatt (61′) equalising for Valerian Ismael’s side.

They now have seven games left and, in reality, are fighting for one of the four play-off places. Their last game is scheduled for May 8th against likely champions Norwich but the six games before that will be key to them carving out a play-off place.

The other six games see Barnsley face four sides (Preston, Huddersfield, Coventry, and Rotherham) who are all 17th or lower in the league table with Luton (13th) and Middlesbrough (9th) completing the last of the Tykes games.

Nixon comments on problems Barnsley pose

One reporter who has championed Barnsley throughout their rise up the table has been Alan Nixon of The Sun. He is continuing to do so and he is vocal about the effect that they will have on this season’s play-off picture.

To even be where they are to have that impact is astonishing when you consider where they have developed from since ending last season scratching around on the precipice of a relegation fight. Valerian Ismael has melded a Barnsley side and has gotten them playing a style of football that is both highly effective and difficult to play against.

The next seven games will be very interesting indeed.