THE BIG MATCH

Barnsley and Wolverhampton Wanderers sit side-by-side towards the foot of the table and they meet at Oakwell on Tuesday evening.

Wolves are one place above Barnsley, who sit in the highest place of the relegation zone, with a solitary point advantage but are without a win in 10 games in all competitions.

Last time out, on Saturday, Dean Saunders' men were involved in a goalless stalemate with Derby County - their second successive draw.

After failing to win again, and drifting further towards the drop zone, Saunders knows just how vital their game on Tuesday is.

The 48-year-old told the Express and Star: "It is a six-pointer. Saturday's wasn't and neither is Sunday against Cardiff, or the next one - but this is.

"It's the most important out of the four and we need some wins so we are not scrambling at the end.

"Ideally you keep the teams below you below you and then you can do them some damage."

Despite their lowly position, Barnsley will come into the game full of confidence following their recent strong form.

The Tykes started the season with just five wins until the turn of the year, leading to the departure of Keith Hill. But under the stewardship of new manger David Flitcroft they have gone on to draw one and win seven of their last eight fixtures in all competitions.

They were on FA Cup duty at the weekend, beating Milton Keynes Dons 3-1 to secure a quarter-final tie with Premier League holders Manchester City, and Flitcroft has nothing but admiration for his side's performances of late.

The former Rochdale defender told The Star: "This group of players just want to keep achieving and keep aspiring to be better. That's inspiring me. I'm motivated and driven by this group of players.

"I'm bringing the word respect to this football club. I demand respect and you've got to earn respect as well.

"Every one of those players doesn't know when they're beaten. They don't want to get beaten and that's the key thing for me.

"I asked for new heroes - and everyone has stood up. I could go through the team, but they're my heroes. I'm getting inspired by them and the fans."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Bristol City are also amongst the relegation scrap and they meet promotion-chasing Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Robins are currently 23rd in the table, one point above bottom club Peterborough United and four adrift of Wolves, and safety, but are another side that have experienced an upturn in form since a managerial change.

They had registered just six league wins under former boss Derek McInnes but have won three of the six matches since Sean O'Driscoll's appointment as manager in early January.

O'Driscoll believes the key to his relative success so far has been in keeping games tight and making the Robins difficult to play against.

"We cannot go out and play the same way as Palace and throw caution to the wind, because we don't have those kind of players," he explained to the Bristol Post.

"If we do not make ourselves hard to beat and play an open game, the best sides in the Championship will punish us.

"Our best chance is to be organised, hard to break down and hard-working. Those are the things we have been working on in training and there is no point in training one way and then playing another."

It will be no easy feat to keep Palace at bay, however, as the London outfit are the league's second highest scorers.

The Eagles have found the net 58 times and their attack is led by the Championship's top-scorer Glenn Murray, who has 27 goals in all competitions this term.

Ian Holloway's men are fourth in the table and just four points behind Hull City in the automatic promotion places, although they have failed to secure back-to-back wins since mid-November.

The former Blackpool manager insists his side is still improving, though, telling the Croydon Guardian: "I think we are getting stronger. The challenge is, can we get another 14 wins?

"You have to aim at the stars. The shape I want and how we do it is there. We just need to do it quicker and stronger."

Their last match was a 4-1 win over Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park on Saturday. After a lacklustre first half in which Murray gave the Eagles a one-goal lead, Holloway's words at the interval had the desired effect as they came out firing in the second 45 minutes to produce a convincing win.

Holloway added: "I just told the lads, 'look you are boring me'. It was too slow, it was too laborious. We didn't move it quickly enough. I said, 'come on I am bored'. I honestly felt that way.

"You have to utterly go for it in this league because anybody can do anything at any given time."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Watford sit directly above fourth-placed Palace in the table and they travel to Portman Road to meet Ipswich Town.

The Hornets are the division's top-scoring side and have lost just three of their last 19 league fixtures - they ran out 4-0 winners against Birmingham City on Saturday. Ipswich also won at the weekend, beating Blackpool 1-0, so will be buoyant coming into the fixture against their high-flying opponents.

Leicester City and Middlesbrough are the two other teams in the Play-Offs, and they take on Charlton Athletic and Burnley respectively. Nigel Pearson's men were defeated for the first time in six matches last time out in the league, losing to Peterborough United, while Charlton have failed to win any of their last four fixtures.

Middlesbrough are the division's out-of-form team, with just one victory in seven matches - the other six ending in defeat - but they travel to Turf Moor sitting sixth in the table, four points clear of Brighton and Hove Albion in seventh. Their opponents Burnley are 10th, just seven points behind them, but haven't won in three.

At the top, Cardiff City are eight points clear and will be aiming to stretch that when they entertain Brighton at the Cardiff City Stadium. The Bluebirds have been formidable on home turf this season, dropping points in just two of their 15 games in the Welsh capital, but the Seagulls will be no pushovers as they harbour promotion ambitions of their own.

Second-placed Hull City will hope to keep up with Cardiff at the top and they entertain Blackburn Rovers, who overcame Arsenal in the FA Cup at the weekend.

One place below Rovers is Derby, in ninth, and they host Bolton Wanderers. With a win, and a Brighton defeat, the Rams could move up to seventh, while the Trotters will be desperate for the points to move away from the bottom three.

Mark Robins will take charge of his first league game as manager of Huddersfield Town when they visit Nottingham Forest, while Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday, who are separated by just two points in the lower reaches of the table, clash at St Andrews.

The remaining game in the division on Tuesday sees rock bottom Peterborough take on Millwall at the Den. Then, on Wednesday, Paul Ince will lead Blackpool out for the first time, with a visit to Leeds United's Elland Road.

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