Latics travel to Oakwell on Saturday as they look for first win under new manager Warren Joyce.
- Latics travel to Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship.
- Warren Joyce’s men looking to make it four consecutive away games without defeat.
- Hosts Barnsley have won just once in their last nine outings.
New manager Warren Joyce, who will no doubt have benefitted from a fortnight on the training pitch with his players after having just 48 hours between his appointment and first game in charge against Reading earlier this month, takes his side to Barnsley for what will be Latics’ fifth visit to South Yorkshire since they won at Oakwell less than 12 months ago in League One.
After winning 2-0 against the Tykes just before last Christmas, Latics defeated Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane as their surge towards the third tier title gathered pace before a defeat at Doncaster Rovers in April delayed the promotion celebrations an extra week. Earlier this campaign, defeat at Sheffield Wednesday was the fourth of six straight away defeats in all competitions at the start of the 2016-17 season before the current three-game unbeaten run on the road.
Joyce will be fully aware of the task at hand with the Tykes making great strides under Paul Heckingbottom, sitting in 13th place in the Championship just five points off the play-off places and a healthy seven points above Latics, who sit in the final relegation place. Barnsley have only been denied scoring on their own patch by runaway leaders Newcastle United, though equally only Nottingham Forest (14) have conceded more goals on their own patch than Heckingbottom’s side’s 13.
The Tykes have made fantastic progress under Paul Heckingbottom, who has won exactly half of the 38 games he has taken charge of.
Barnsley’s league position doesn’t tell the whole story of their campaign to date, though, and their recent form – after winning five of their first seven league games – is amongst the worst in the division as, following their 4-0 win at Wolves in September, they have won just once; losing five and drawing three of their nine matches since.
Both sides are free from suspensions whilst injury updates will follow on wiganathletic.com from Thursday.
Free-scoring Barnsley have bagged an impressive 27 goals from their 16 Championship matches to date, with only Newcastle United (34) and Norwich City (28) boasting better goals for columns in the second tier.
Conor Hourihane and Marley Watkins scored for the Tykes on the opening day of the campaign in a 4-2 defeat at Ipswich Town and it’s the latter who currently tops Barnsley’s league goal-scoring charts with four goals along with striker Sam Winnall.
Conor Hourihane and Marley Watkins are Barnsley’s leading goal-scorers in the Championship with four goals apiece.
Three consecutive home league wins after that opening day defeat against the Tractor Boys saw Derby County (2-0), QPR (3-2) and South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United (4-0) seen off to leave Heckingbottom’s side third in the table after five games.
Back-to-back away wins at Preston North End (2-1) and Wolves (4-0) saw the Tykes continue their forwards momentum and consolidate their place in the top six but since their win at Molineux form has significantly deteriorated.
Five defeats from their next six games saw the Tykes drop into mid-table, with their only point in that period coming from a 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa as Winnall scored an injury-time equaliser.
A good 2-0 win at Brentford – a game in which Newcastle United loanee Adam Armstrong scored his third goal of the season – got Barnsley back to winning ways a month ago and they drew their two games prior to the international break at home to Bristol City (2-2) and away at Burton Albion (0-0) to go into the game with Latics on a three-game unbeaten run.
Barnsley won the first-ever meeting between the two sides in the 1954-55 FA Cup at Oakwell as Ted Goodier’s Non-League Latics lost 3-2 to the Third Division North Tykes at Oakwell.
Since then, though, Latics have dominated the head-to-head record and, following election to the Football League in 1978, have never lost a league game at Oakwell – winning on their last four visits after drawing there in the 1978-79 campaign.
In fact, up until Barnsley’s final day win at the DW Stadium last season, the Tykes had never won a league game against Latics with just a 1990-91 League Cup success and 2014-15 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success to their name.
On our last visit to Oakwell, Andy Kellett scored his first Latics goal and Yanic Wildschut was also on the mark in a 2-0 win.