Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The former Yeovil man picked up an injury in last week’s 4-1 win at Gillingham – unfortunate news both for the team and for the striker himself, who will hopefully make a positive recovery.
While Moore is unquestionably an excellent goalscorer at League One level, there was evidence earlier in the campaign that Barnsley can play well without their tall front-man.
They beat Luton 3-2 back in October with one of the most eye-catching performances of the season without Moore, when they instead operated without a recognized centre-forward.
Cauley Woodrow, who bagged two well-taken goals at Priestfield, has since joined to bolster their forward options and the 24-year-old could be deployed alongside Hannover 96 loanee Mike-Steven Bahre as almost two false nines in a 4-2-2-2 system, with Mamadou Thiam and Jacob Brown breaking beyond the duo from wide positions.
— Quest (@QuestTV) December 29, 2018
Thiam offers pace, drive and the ability to score thunderous strikes from the left channel and Brown, athleticism and skill from the right.
Cameron McGeehan loves to break into goalscoring areas from midfield, as we saw when the scored the Tykes’ opportunistic second in the 2-1 win over Scunthorpe in their previous home encounter.
Moore’s absence would be a bigger problem for Barnsley if all their play revolved around early balls into the front-man, but they are more patient than that with Alex Mowatt dictating from deep with his excellent left foot.
Barnsley’s Expected Goals For (xGF) return in the last match was 5.52, by far the highest out of all the teams competing in the EFL that weekend, which shows there is potential for them to go goal crazy.
Wycombe Wanderers will travel to Oakwell with some belief, knowing they have beaten their opponents 1-0 in the reverse fixture, which is something Ainsworth alluded to when discussing the fixture.
However, the Chairboys have taken 28 of their 43 points this season at Adams Park, where they perhaps find it easier to sustain pressure against higher-quality opposition.
Away from home, they are not quite as strong, as testified by a 3-0 defeat at Luton last time out.
Wycombe’s defenders, like Sido Jombati and Adam El-Abd, are very committed but not especially composed in possession and it remains to be seen just how well they hold onto the ball, especially given the energy with which Daniel Stendel’s side press.
Ideally, they would need a hardworking forward capable of chasing lost causes and grafting in isolation in South Yorkshire with, for example, a typically attacking wide men like Paris Cowan-Hall expected to stay tight to Dani Pinillos.
However, Craig Mackail-Smith was allowed to join Notts County late in the window while Alex Samuel might not be at peak fitness, having not made the match-day squad at Kenilworth Road the week after being forced off injured.
It could be that, unless Scott Kashket or Nathan Tyson adapt to a central role, Adebayo Akinfenwa is their only main striker available.
While ‘Da Beast’ is useful when Wycombe are pumping balls into the box, we know that for much of the game, midfielders like Dominic Gape, Curtis Thompson and Matt Bloomfield will be stuck in their defensive third, making it hard to produce the necessary service for Akinfenwa.
— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) February 14, 2019
Wycombe are doing superbly to still be in the top half as a newly-promoted club with a relatively restrictive budget for this level – but they have lost by a margin of three goals in two of their five road trips to top six opposition.
Barnsley to win -2 handicap – 15/4