Leeds United v Barnsley: Ross fires warning to Reds

Ross McCormack.
Ross McCormack.
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Oakwell is where Barnsley bring the pain to Leeds United and the intensity of this Yorkshire derby never resonates as strongly when the teams square off at Elland Road.

Ross McCormack has seen every one of United’s recent hidings in Barnsley and the opportunity to renew hostilities at home tomorrow is preferable to another visit to the killing fields of Oakwell. United “owe them one” regardless, according to McCormack.

Barnsley have the upper hand in their rivalry with Leeds and by a clear margin – five wins from their last eight meetings against two draws and one loss. That solitary defeat came at Elland Road last season and Barnsley returned the favour by humiliating Neil Warnock’s squad at Oakwell in January. Warnock’s reign as manager seemed doomed from then on.

In theory this weekend’s derby is weighted heavily in United’s favour. They are 18 places higher in the Championship than Barnsley – the division’s bottom club – and 18 points better off.

The Tykes have a new manager after appointing Danny Wilson on Tuesday but only once has a team led by Wilson won at Elland Road.

“Recent results against Barnsley haven’t been the best, especially away from home,” McCormack said. “We’ll be looking to avenge that.

“It’s weird because when we go to Barnsley you feel like it’s a Yorkshire derby. At Elland Road it’s different. For some reason it doesn’t feel so much of a derby as it does when we’re at Barnsley.

“It’s another game for us and another three points for the taking. But we owe Barnsley one.”

Leeds have the insurance of McCormack’s seemingly endless streak of goals and the fallback of Matt Smith, a striker who is slowly coming into his own at Elland Road.

Smith scored for the second game running during United’s 3-0 win at Doncaster Rovers last weekend and continues to average a goal from every league start.

Brian McDermott was pushed into forging a partnership between Smith and McCormack by the injury which cut short Dexter Blackstock’s loan from Nottingham Forest but they have scored six times between them in the past three matches.

McCormack has been increasingly impressed with Smith’s development since Leeds signed him on a free transfer from Oldham Athletic in June.

“To be honest it’s like night and day,” he said. “When Matt first came here I’m not saying he was a bad player, not by any means. But he’s a much better player now than he was.

“He’s 24 but really he’s only like a 20-year-old when you take into consideration how long he’s been in the game. He’s only going to get better.

“Even if he’s not starting games, when he comes on for the last 10 minutes centre-halves must look at him and think ‘here we go’. But I’ve got a good partnership going with him at the moment and I think we’ve proved that if we play together we’ll nick some goals.”

McCormack has nicked more than a few. His individual effort at Doncaster was his 17th of the season and more notably his 11th in seven games. He remains the Championship’s top scorer, four clear of prolific Burnley forward Danny Ings

“At the minute I go onto the pitch for every game believing I’m going to score,” he said.

“I also believe that my team-mates behind me are going to give me at least one good chance to get a goal. Right now it just seems to be that I’m taking that chance.

“But I know it’s not going to go on forever and when the goals dry up a little bit I’ll still be looking to do things for the team.

“There’ve been games where I haven’t scored and I didn’t get down about it. I stay level-headed.”

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