League One promotion-chasers Barnsley face a potentially season-defining clash against Sunderland at Oakwell on Tuesday night.
The third-placed Black Cats are currently breathing down the Tykes’ necks, and a win for the visitors would take them to within a point of the hosts with a game in hand, giving them the initiative in the race for automatic promotion.
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Daniel Stendel’s side, though, could give themselves breathing space with a win. Barnsley’s assistant manager Dale Tonge certainly believes that the outcome of Tuesday’s match could have significant ramifications for the remainder of the club’s campaign.
Speaking to the press on Monday, as quoted by Barnsley’s official website, Tonge said: “We look at it as a must-win for us – that’s all we’re looking at. Let’s win the game and the rest will take care of itself…But I don’t think this game is the be all and end all between now and the end of the season. We’re under no illusions; it’s a massive game.”
With plenty of football still to be played after this match, it isn’t ‘the be all and end all’ exactly. However, a win would give the victor a major confidence boost, extra momentum and a psychological edge heading into the League One season’s run-in.
Stendel and Tonge will both recognise the importance of this game, but to even mutter the words “must-win” certainly puts some neccesary presure on the Yorkshire outfit’s players.
The duo should also be prepared to have to lift their side should Tuesday end in disappointment. A negative result against Sunderland could derail Barnsley’s season if the management team allow it to.