Jonathan Woodgate's big call plus Middlesbrough formation concern ahead of Leeds clash :Post-match Barnsley notebook

Middlesbrough were booed off by away supporters following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Barnsley – and there were plenty of talking points following the match at Oakwell.
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate.Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate.
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate.

Jonathan Woodgate’s side are just three points above the relegation zone ahead of a tricky meeting with Leeds on Wednesday night.

Here, we look at some of the game’s other talking points worth reflecting on…

Woodgate opts for experience

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Since Woodgate’s appointment in the summer, the age of his side has gradually decreased.

For Boro’s first game of the season against Luton, the Teessiders’ starting XI had an average age of 27.5, yet that figure dropped to as low as 23.7 for the 2-2 draw with Derby last month.

Against Barnsley, though, the visitors line-up had an average age of 27.2, the highest it had been for a league game since a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn in August.

Woodgate defended his decision to go with experience over youth, yet a sudden change of approach is far from ideal at a key point of the season.

Barnsley’s tactical switch

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Another concerning facet was the way Barnsley matched Boro up and operated with a back three.

Despite deploying in other formations, the Teessiders have predominantly played with wing-backs ever since October’s dreadful performance at Birmingham.

Woodgate has previously said the set-up suits his players, yet Barnsley seemingly beat Boro at their own game.

The Tykes have used the system before, yet head coach Gerhard Struber prefers to go with a back four.

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Against Boro, though, Barnsley wing-backs Clarke Oduor, 20, and Kilian Ludewig, 19, pinned the visitors back as Jonny Howson and Marvin Johnson struggled to get up the pitch.

It was a key battle which Woodgate’s side lost.

Biggest away following of the season

Boro were backed by their biggest away following of the season on Saturday as 3,999 made the trip to Oakwell.

That surpassed the number of fans which travelled to Tottenham for January’s FA Cup replay, when 3,750 away supporters were present.

Boro fans weren’t afraid to let their feelings known at full-time whistle and chants of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ were aimed at the players.