MX23RW : Saturday, September 22 11:27:22
Apr 26, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​Riverside Stadium
Tomlin (54', 90'), Graham (90')
Gibson (71'), Chalobah (89')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Mvoto (53')

Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Barnsley

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and relegation-threatened Barnsley at the Riverside.

Simply put, Saturday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Barnsley at the Riverside Stadium is a must-win encounter for the visitors.

That term is often thrown around with not much weight behind it at this stage of the season, but anything less than three points for Barnsley this weekend would consign them to relegation and League One football next season.

They are currently four points adrift of safety with just two games remaining and, while a point could leave them within three of Birmingham City, their goal difference is the worst in the league and effectively adds another point to that deficit.

Indeed, even a win may not be enough for the Tykes as their fate is in the hands of Birmingham, who could effectively relegate all of the bottom three with a victory over Leeds United.

That scenario would also require other results to go against Barnsley, but with a season finale against high-flying Queens Park Rangers in the offing, the likelihood of them overturning the four-point gap is slim.

A run of one win in six has done Danny Wilson's side no favours in the battle against the drop, and they could even go into Saturday's match bottom of the league should Yeovil Town pull off a surprise victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday.

Curiously, Barnsley have been better away from home than they have at Oakwell in recent weeks, with three wins from their last five matches on the road.

Jack Hunt and Emmanuel Frimpong are still doubts for the visitors, so Wilson could opt to name an unchanged side despite falling to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Derby County in the last outing.

Middlesbrough, meanwhile, are now mathematically unable to reach the playoffs this season, although lack of consistency throughout the campaign has long suggested that would be the case.

The aim for the final two matches of the season will be to overhaul Watford in 12th and secure a top-half finish, and six points from six is a distinct possibility with the league's bottom two clubs left to play.

However, they lost back-to-back games over the Easter period and have played a game more than the Hornets, who are two points above Aitor Karanka's side.

Last Saturday's defeat at the hands of Millwall was just their second in their last 12 matches at the Riverside, a run that stretches back to mid-December.

However, with relatively little left to fight for, Karanka faces a tough task in getting his side up for a match against a team who simply have to win.

Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Tomlin could both return to the starting lineup for the hosts, but there will be no place for Mustapha Carayol, who is out for the season.

Recent form

Middlesbrough: WWWWLL

Barnsley: DLLWLL

Possible starting lineups

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Varga, Woodgate, Omeruo, Friend; Chalobah, Butterfield; Adomah, Tomlin, Williams; Graham

Barnsley: Steele; Cranie, Mvoto, Nyatanga, Kennedy; McCourt, Cywka, Dawson, Lawrence, Jennings; O'Grady

Sports Mole says: 2-0

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Burnley right-back Kieran Trippier looks on during a Championship match on August 3, 2013
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