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Barnsley vs Bolton predictions: Visitors to take big step to Wembley
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Aidan Perkins
Barnsley host Bolton at Oakwell in the first leg of their play-off showdown
Barnsley host Bolton at Oakwell in the first leg of their play-off showdown

- Barnsley finished sixth in League One
- Bolton ended regular campaign in third place
- Recommended bet:
Bolton to win

Barnsley and Bolton begin the EFL play-offs when the two sides, who finished third and sixth respectively in the third tier, meet on Friday night at Oakwell.

The Tykes only just scraped into the top six and may have their work cut out against Bolton, who finished third, just five points behind second-placed Derby.

Despite reaching the end-of-season party, Barnsley approach the Bolton clash in poor form, with their winless run extending to six after the 1-1 draw with Northampton on Saturday.

In contrast, Wanderers are unbeaten in their last seven, winning three of those games, and warmed up for the trip to South Yorkshire with an entertaining 3-3 draw at Peterborough, who have also made the play-offs, on the final day.

Team news

Caretaker boss Martin Devaney does not have many injuries to deal with in the build-up to the play-offs, but could opt to start exciting young winger Fabio Jalo after his cameo appearance from the bench at the weekend.

Others hoping to get the nod and earn recalls against Bolton include Barry Cotter, Jamie McCart and Conor Grant.

Bolton do not have any reported fresh injury issues for the first leg, although defender George Johnston remains out with his long-term knee problem.

Aaron Morley and Cameron Jerome both came off the bench in the dramatic draw with Peterborough last time out, so they are among those pushing for starts, but boss Ian Evatt is not expected to make too many changes.

Martin Devaney has taken caretaker charge of Barnsley recently
Martin Devaney has taken caretaker charge of Barnsley recently

The stats

Bolton finished three places and 11 points higher than Barnsley in League One this season.

Bolton scored more goals — 86 compared to 82 — and conceded fewer — 51 compared to 64 — than Barnsley in the two sides' 46 league matches.

The two league games between them both finished level. Bolton earned a 2-2 draw on their trip to Oakwell in March, while the Toughsheet Community Stadium clash ended 1-1 in February.


Bolton are understandably favourites for this first-leg showdown as the two sides prepare to square off in the hope of eventually battling through and sealing a return to the Championship.

The Trotters have not lost for seven games, have been scoring plenty of goals of late and look all-round a better side than the hosts on Friday, who just about finished in sixth place after a frustrating end to the campaign.

It is unlikely to be a comfortable victory for the visitors, but Bolton look well equipped to get a vital away win to defend when they host Barnsley next week when a place at Wembley will be up for grabs.

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