The Opposition View: Barnsley

Tyke Craig Smith answers the questions I asked him ahead of this weekend's trip to Oakwell.

Barnsley currently lie below Pompey, a team that supposedly have targeted the top six, by goal difference. Does your club share the same play-off ambitions?

Mark Robins has always maintained that reaching the play-offs are a long term goal. As a club that has spent the past few seasons battling relegation I'd say a realistic short term goal would be a top half finish. A view that seems to be shared by Robins and the board. The play-offs would be seen as a bonus.

What do Tykes fans think of the job Mark Robins is doing at Oakwell?

Robins is well liked by the Barnsley fans. The team are playing exciting attacking football under him and he seems very ambitious. The one gripe the fans seem to have with him is his reluctance to change things around when it's not going our way.

What are the main strengths of this Barnsley side and who are the key players?

The main strength of this Barnsley team by far is the midfield. On a good day our midfield can compete with any in the Championship. Adam Hammill is our main threat, but don't be fooled into believing he's our only threat.

Jim O'Brien works tirelessly down the flanks and our full-backs (most likely to be Trippier and Hassell against Pompey) are always encouraged to get forward and swing some balls into the box.

Finally, Garry O'Connor on loan from Birmingham is a real goal threat. He's scored in the last two games and is a natural finisher, something we've been lacking desperately. With Hammill and O'Brien supplying O'Connor we pose a very serious threat to any opposition.

What are the biggest weaknesses in your team that Pompey can exploit on Saturday?

Our biggest weakness is our goalkeeper Luke Steele because he is far too inconsistent. On a good day he'd give any keeper in the league a run for their money, on a bad day he's comical. We also struggle against set-pieces and are vulnerable to counter-attacking football.

What do you make of the current Pompey team?

On paper this Pompey team is probably one of the best in the league. A few of the players in their team could easily claim to be Premier League quality. Mokoena, Nugent, Utaka and Lawrence in particular.

Indeed if it weren't for the lack of depth in the team and the off field troubles the club has had I have no doubt they'd be up with Cardiff, QPR and co instead of mid-table.

What sort of game are you expecting on Saturday and would you take a draw if offered?

I expect an attacking, entertaining match on Saturday. Considering our last two results and Pompeys recent form I have to admit I'd be a little disappointed with a draw. I believe the Barnsley team is fully capable of taking all three points on Saturday. Having said that my experiences of this fixture haven't been great.

In fact, the last one I went to was in 2001 when we lost 4-1 at Oakwell. Was that the last time Pompey were here? I believe so.

Predict the outcome of the game.

My prediction would be 3-1 Barnsley.