LEAGUE ONE promotion-chasers Barnsley and Luton lock horns in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Saturday. EFL connoisseur Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his best bets.
Barnsley v Luton | Saturday 13th October 2018, 12:15 | Sky Sports
Firstly, credit to Daniel Stendel and Nathan Jones.
These are two bright, young coaches who have brought fresh ideas to the English game beneath the top two divisions.
Their work at Barnsley and Luton respectively has enhanced the quality of League One immeasurably and we should see a highly-entertaining contest at Oakwell.
Kieffer Moore is the obvious threat; the tall striker has the physical qualities of a target man yet is equally among the most technically gifted forwards at this level, evidenced by a return of seven league goals in 12.
In midfield, they have a fine technician in Alex Mowatt, who has a wand of a left foot and has benefited from the impressive fitness regime.
Between Mowatt and Moore, Stendel has a plethora of appealing attacking options to choose from.
Brad Potts’ recent return from injury is a massive boost – the former Blackpool man netted a brace in the 4-0 win at Peterborough including a lovely free-kick.
Former Luton box-to-box man Cameron McGeehan is another option, as is the fleet-footed Jacob Brown, tap-in specialist Victor Adeboyejo, the powerful Mamadou Thiam, the creative George Moncur – among others – are all options among various positions.
The one question surrounding the Tykes is whether they can perform at home, where they have won just once since the opening day demolition of Oxford – dropped points against lowly Wimbledon and Plymouth is part of the reason why they haven’t quite fulfilled their potential.
Hats off to the Hatters
This is a very exciting time for Luton.
They are back in League One for the first time in over a decade and let’s be honest, their 2007-08 relegation campaign – marred by relegation and off-field issues – was hardly fun.
It’s fair to say, therefore, that this is a very good time to be a Hatters fan for all sorts of reasons.
There was some talk of Jones – a passionate Welshman who has endeared himself to the natives – getting the Brentford job but fans will be pleased to see that case, if it ever existed, is likely to be closed very quickly.
The Bedfordshire outfit had a few games early on – namely the opening day trip to Pompey, where they hit the woodwork twice in a 1-0 defeat – where they didn’t quite get the results performances had deserved.
Now, however, they are starting to see the fruits of their labour; Luton have taken 14 points from their last six, thanks to Saturday’s 3-2 home win over Scunthorpe.
Harry Cornick has been rewarded for his impact from the bench in the 2-2 home draw with Charlton with back-to-back league starts, which is a sign that Jones has faith in him.
It was assumed in pre-season that Luton would start regularly this season with two out-and-out strikers, as they did during their high-scoring promotion campaign; the clear advantage of that is that both James Collins and Danny Hylton are reliable finishers.
Cornick doesn’t yet come into that category, but he is, perhaps, more mobile and, with experience playing out wide for much of his career to date, more able to influence games from deeper areas.
When two possession-based sides with a lot of quality meet, there can be fewer goals and chances than expected – Wigan 1-0 Bristol City and Liverpool 0-0 Man City being recent televized examples.
We sometimes see a neutralizing effect in which both want to spend long periods in possession and both are wary of what the other can produce.
Given that Barnsley have only scored four goals in their last four home games and Luton have managed just five in six on the road.
So, having said all the above – which still holds true – it’s possible that we might see the other sides of Stendel and Jones’ coaching methods, in terms of how they structure their teams without the ball.
Barnsley appear to be at a slightly more advanced stage of their development and for that reason, I shall back them to edge a low-scoring encounter.
A home win with Under 3.5 Goals at 2/1 with BoyleSports is my best bet.
Barnsley v Luton – Barnsley to win and Under 3.5 Goals (2/1 BoyleSports)