PREVIEW: Barnsley v Luton Town
Barnsley are looking well equipped to challenge strongly for an immediate return to the Championship this season.
The Tykes only went down on what was an agonising final day last campaign, as they were beaten 4-1 by Derby County, but would have stayed up, had Bolton not come from 2-1 down with four minutes left to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.
Chief executive Gauthier Ganaye acted quickly, with head coach Jose Morais leaving the club after the former Real Madrid and Chelsea assistant won only three of his 15 games in charge when replacing Paul Heckingbottom in February.
Assistant coaches Dimas Teixeira and Joao Cunha also departed too.
A month later, the Tykes had their new man in place, ex-Hannover 96 boss Daniel Stendel named head coach, agreeing a two-year deal and been set a target of achieving an instant return to the second tier.
Andreas Winkler joined as his assistant and Christopher Stern - who worked with Stendel at Hannover - came in as first-team coach.
Any thoughts that Stendel would take time to adapt to the English game were cast aside early on, with Oxford defeated 4-0 on the opening day, Barnsley then winning 2-0 at Braford.
Although they went out of the Carabao Cup at the first stage to Blackpool, the league form continued to impress with a thumping 4-0 win at Rochdale and seeing off Gillingham.
They were unbeaten going into September, before losing that record, 1-0 at Coventry.
However, Barnsley got back on track immediately by winning 3-1 at Fleetwood and then produced their best yet, with a 4-0 thrashing of Peterborough on their travels last time out.
Stendel benefitted from not having a huge turnover of players on arrival, bringing in Kenny Dougall and Jordan Williams, while only really losing Andy Yiadom, midfielder Stephen Hallam and Adam Hammill.
Striker Tom Bradshaw was loaned to Millwall, but the Tykes strengthened in the window too, ex-Hatter Cauley Woodrow joining, while German midfielder Mike-Steven Bahre joined on a season-long loan from Hannover 96.
Since coming to south Yorkshire, Stendel has been implementing a high-pressing style of football, something he knows will take time to fully be grasped by his squad.
He told Sky Sports: “Most of our players do not know this style, but we trained very hard in pre-season. It is not easy to implement in two or three months. It takes time.
“It is important we learn step by step. League One is a good place to play this style. The press is difficult because most teams do not play out from the back. But we learn every week and every week, I learn new things. In the end, I think the style can be successful.”
Team news: Danny Hylton is back in contention for the Hatters but striker Elliot Lee has been rated as ‘touch and go’ by boss Nathan Jones.
Dan Potts should be fine after coming off against Scunthorpe, leaving Luton without Luke Berry (knee), Lloyd Jones (hernia), Marek Stech (hernia) and Frankie Musonda (ankle).
For Barnsley, Adam Davies and Kenny Dougall are on international duty with Wales and Australia, with Ben Williams and Jared Bird tipped to replace them.
The hosts could be without top goalscorer Kieffer Moore who suffered with ankle ligament damage last weekend, while Daniel Pinillos (knee) faces a late fitness test, with fellow full-back Zeki Fryers and midfielder Lloyd Isgrove out due to a knee injury and muscle strain respectively.
Top scorers: Hatters: Elliot Lee (4). Tykes: Kieffer Moore (7).
Man in the middle: Ross Joyce - taken 13 games so far this term, showing 46 yellows and one red.
Refereed Luton just once last year, the 2-2 draw at Mansfield, where he controversially awarded a last minute penalty against Scott Cuthbert for handball, which was saved by Marek Stech.
Took Town once in the 2015-16 season, sending off Ryan Hall in a 2-1 home defeat to Plymouth.
Officiated the Hatters a fair bit in their Conference days, eight times in fact, with Luton unbeaten, winning three and drawing five encounters.
Kevin Mulraine and Craig Taylor are the assistant referees with the fourth official Ben Toner.
In charge: Daniel Stendel, 44-year-old German, who spent his entire playing career in his native country, representing Hamburg, SV Meppen, FC Gütersloh, Hannover 96 and FC St Pauli.
Had been coaching the Hannover U19s when he was appointed head coach of the club on April 3, 2016.
Was sacked on March 20, 2017 after a record of 17 wins, nine draws, and eight losses, before joining Barnsley in June.
View from the opposition: Assistant boss Andreas Winkler talking to the club’s official website: - “They (Luton) got promoted last season and have some match winners in their squad.
“They have a good plan, which they stick to, so I think it will be a tough match. Everyone in the squad knows this will not be an easy match and will be doing everything to win three points. We have to start from the first minute.
“They’ve had a good start, but it’s important what happens on Saturday. We will stick to our plan and look at the opponent to see how we will react during the match.”
Friendly faces: Hatters defender Matty Pearson moved to Barnsley from Accrington in July 2017, but only spent a season at Oakwell, playing 19 times, leaving for Luton in the summer.
Luke Berry also had a season with the Tykes when joining from Cambridge United in July 2014.
He played 37 times, scoring twice, returning to the U’s in July 2015 and then signed for Luton in August 2017.
Elliot Lee had a frustrating time at Barnsley, joining from West Ham in June 2016, but made just six sub appearances, before moving to Luton in July 2017, where he has since thrived.
For Barnsley, midfielder Cameron McGeehan made 106 appearances, scoring 31 goals during a total of four spells at Luton, joining the Tykes for an undisclosed fee in June 2017.
Has made 19 appearances since, scoring once, including a loan spell with Scunthorpe last season.
Former Town attacker Cauley Woodrow headed to Barnsley in August on loan, with the deal becoming permanent in January.
He made three appearances for Luton after coming through the ranks at Kenilworth Road, joining Fulham in 2011.
Played 66 times and scored 10 goals for the Cottagers, while had loan moves to Southend, Burton Albion and Bristol City, before moving to Barnsley, but has been injured since and yet to play.
Former Luton midfielder Adam Murray was appointed the Tykes’ U18s boss earlier this season.
He moved to Kenilworth Road in August 2010 from Oxford, playing seven times, before leaving in January 2011 for Mansfield.
Took charge of the Stags for two years and also was in charge of Boston United, while had a spell as assistant at Guiseley before joining Barnsley this season.
Played for both: Marlon Beresford - vastly experienced goalkeeper who started his career at Sheffield Wednesday in the 1980s.
Stints with Bury, Northampton and Crewe followed, but it was at Burnley he made his name, playing over 200 times for the Clarets in six years.
Went to Middlesborough in 1998 and then had spells with Wednesday again, Wolves, York and rejoined Burnley in 2002.
After a season with Bradford, he headed to Luton for the first time in 2003, playing 17 times, but an FA-imposed transfer embargo prevented the Hatters from signing him permanently.
When his loan ended he moved to Barnsley, featuring in 15 games for the Tykes, but once Luton came out of administration and had the embargo lifted, he was re-signed for by Mike Newell in 2004.
Played a key role in Luton’s League One winning side in 2004–05 and featured in the Championship too, going on to make 132 appearances for the club.
Left in 2008 and was goalkeeping coach at Barnet and Motherwell, currently working in the same role for Saudia Arabian club Al-Nassr KSA.
One to watch: Alex Mowatt - classy midfielder who now 23 was a real coup for the club having made over 100 appearances for Leeds United, joining in January 2017.
Spent most of last season on loan at Oxford United, but is back with the Tykes now, and has started all 12 league games for them, scoring once, winning the club’s player of the month for September.
We’ve got form: Weirdly, Luton have a good recent record at Oakwell, undefeated since 1996, with three wins and one draw from their last four visits.
Don’t let that fool you that Town have enjoyed their trips to Barnsley though by any means, as they really haven’t.
After matches started with a 2-1 defeat in 1898, it took Luton a further six games and 50 years to enjoy a first success, a 2-1 Division Two triumph in 1948.
They were hammered 6-1 in 1950, while a 2-1 win in 1962 was then followed by a run of 12 games without victory, 11 of them defeats, as they ended that miserable sequence in 2003 with 3-2 victory courtesy of Matt Spring and Tony Thorpe’s double.
In total, Luton have managed just seven wins, three draws and 19 defeats from their 29 matches, scoring 32, but conceding 62.
Last time out: Luton ran out 2-1 winners at Barnsley on their last visit, that in the Championship during September 2006.
They were in front on 47 minutes through Carlos Edwards, only for Brian Howard to level 60 seconds later.
However, Ahmet Brkovic came off the bench midway through the second half and notched the winner in the final minute, heading in after a howler from on-loan Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone.
Hatters: Marlon Beresford, Kevin Foley, Leon Barnett, Lewis Emanuel, Markus Heikkinen, Richard Langley (Sol Davis 63), Steve Robinson, Carlos Edwards, Dean Morgan (Ahmet Brkovic 63), Sam Parkin, Rowan Vine.
Subs not used: Dean Brill, Keith Keane, Warren Feeney.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.