TALKING TACTICS: First goal could prove crucial

Marvin Bartley
Marvin Bartley
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SCOUT Phil Smith looks ahead to tonight’s game with Barnsley.

A Valentines Day fixture, never has it been so hard to persuade the girlfriend to come to the match! She asked me to take her out for the evening, what is wrong with Turf Moor?!

Statistics dictate that Eddie Howe will enjoy that loving feeling, should we score first.

Barnsley have gained just one point from a losing position thus far, the worst record in the division. This is in stark contrast to our own record, which shows that we have gone on to pocket 11. But for Mr Webster missing a blatant handball last time out at the Turf, it should arguably have been 13.

Keith Hill has led the Tykes to 16 points away from Oakwell,an improvement on the 12 managed by this stage in 2010/2011. At home, we enjoyed an impressive tally of 30 after 15 games last year,but only 20 this time out.

Barnsley have bagged 20 points against those in the top half, whilst we hold the same total against those in the mid to lower range. Unless we take the lead, I can see this game ending all square, although I would obviously love to be proven wrong.

Danny Drinkwater had been one of the star performers in South Yorkshire, and his departure to Leicester City left a huge gap in midfield.

However, Keith Hill has once again proven his worth in the transfer market, with the addition of loanees Korey Smith and Michael Tonge. The latter oozes composure on the ball, whilst the former will most certainly be classed as the danger man this evening.

A high defensive line would be a criminal mistake. Smith made an instant impression on debut against Derby County, creating goals for both Scott Wiseman and Matty Done. His passing accuracy ranges from the sublime to the spectacular, and he will need no invitation to feed the ball in behind Michael Duff.

Talking of Done, he can be hit and miss at this level. He has done well, no pun intended, to step up from Rochdale in League One, but until he finds a degree of consistency, he will fail to progress from the Championship.

I am impressed by his technical ability, creativity and pace, but, on his day, he can offer much more that that.

Yes, we all judge a wide player on his ability to work the fullback inside and out, but what separates an average football from a good one is their intelligence. He is aware of his defensive responsibility, and will make a conscious effort to track back, in order to avoid double exposure in transition.

I have noted that Jimmy McNulty likes to stick close to the offensive player. As a result, a gap in the defence can be evident, as he is often pulled out of position. Therefore,to help him maintain his defensive line, I expect him to be helped out by his midfielder infront, and thus our wide player on the right side is likely to be double marked.

Attacking down the left may be the way forward tonight!

“Is the team better with Marvin Bartley in it?” (Paul Stansfield)

In my opinion, Marvin Bartley is the best central midfielder at the club, Paul.

However, our recent form speaks for itself.

The upturn in fortune since the Hull game has been nothing short of remarkable,and to bemoan team selection at the moment would be criminally unjust.

That being said, we are a better team with him on the pitch.

He will retain the ball and direct the distribution of our opponent to a less effective zone.

Show me a box,and Marvin will tick it.