Their 86-point haul might have meant more if it hadn’t been for the excellence of the three teams above them in League One in 2022/23: Ipswich Town, Plymouth Argyle, and Sheffield Wednesday.

It was a big setback to then lose manager Michael Duff to Swansea City, as well as important defense duo Liam Kitching and Mads Andersen to Coventry City and Luton Town, respectively.

This hasn’t stopped them from battling their way back into the promotion picture. Barnsley, led by Neill Collins, are sixth in the table after a 3-2 loss to Portsmouth on Tuesday night.

The underlying figures imply that they are rather fortunate to be where they are, but here are the reasons why the Tykes will be in and around the title hunt as the season progresses.

Can Barnsley beat the odds and gain promotion?
Football fans are divided on expected goal and assist totals.

REDS LAUNCH 23/24 KITS - News - Barnsley Football Club

While they should not be used as the entire basis of an argument, they can tell us a lot about how a team is doing and what we can expect from them in the future.
Barnsley are the team under scrutiny here, and they are outperforming in both xG and xGa.

Their forward line has stayed largely the same besides Luke Thomas joining Bristol Rovers and, if anything, it has improved.

Amongst the new arrivals are Andy Dallas, Max Watters, and, most recently, Sam Cosgrove, who helped Plymouth Argyle to the League One title last season.


Collins’ side currently rank fourth for xG with 1.55 per 90, whilst their 2.25 goals per game is far and away the best in the division. It has to be said that the 7-0 demolishing of Port Vale on the opening day, in which Devante Cole scored a hat-trick, makes the numbers look more extreme than they otherwise would.

Speaking of Cole, they have one of the top strikers in English football’s third tier in him. It never really worked for him in the Championship, but he scored 11 goals for Motherwell in the SPFL in 2020/21 and has proven to be quite capable in front of goal at this level.
With Watters, Dallas, and Cosgrove in and around him, this creates an elite offensive that can continue on its current run.

Barnsley, on the other hand, has the fourth highest xGa in the league at 1.5 per 90. When compared to the fact that six clubs have conceded more than one goal per game, it is clear that the numbers are on their side.


Filling the void left behind by Andersen and Kitching was a major task, but they seem to have done a solid job of it, Maël de Gevigney joining from French side Nimes being at the fore of this.


The numbers may suggest that Barnsley are over performing, but they pass they eye test and the talent on display suggests that this will level out, and they are as good as their league position tells us.
Who do Barnsley play next?
Looking ahead to the games that Barnsley have coming up, and they will be properly tested in the coming weeks.


In two of their next six games, they host 14th-placed Blackpool at Oakwell and then go to 19th-placed Northampton Town at Sixfields.


Barnsley will face high-flying Exeter City in Devon on October 7th, as well as fellow promotion contenders Bolton Wanderers. Their encounter against the former, who are presently second and only behind Portsmouth on goal difference, will be a crucial test of the Tykes’ credentials and, more importantly, their ability to overcome the data.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *