Barnsley: Tykes hope to sign-off 2016 in style

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Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom wants to end a fantastic year at Oakwell in style.

The Reds tasted double Wembley success in 2016 by winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and getting promoted through the play-offs.

And Heckingbottom’s charges can pull the curtain down on a fine year when they host Birmingham City later today.

Barnsley crushed the Blues 3-0 earlier this month, but since then Gianfranco Zola at taken over the reigns at St Andrews - and Heckingbottom is adamant the reverse fixture result is irrelevant due to the changes at the Midlands’ club. “Birmingham have changed, we’ve only seen a couple of games but it’s subtle changes and differences,” admitted Heckingbottom. “I was at the Derby game and one thing I did see was a team that was working really hard for each other.

“They’ve got a new manager and they’ll be working hard to try and impress him, he’ll be trying to figure out his best team and give everyone a chance and there may be more changes before they play us.

“They’ve been up against two good sides and given a good account of themselves against Derby and Brighton. It’s still the same players right up there in the play-off hunt and we know it’s going to be tough.

“We know we’re going to have to perform as well as he did when we played them away from home and hopefully we can do that and get a positive result.”

The Barnsley players will wear black armbands to honour club legend Norman Rimmington, who passed away earlier this week, with a minute’s applause also taking place before kick off.

And Heckingbottom paid his own tribute to the former Reds’ goalkeeper.

He said: “It is sad, but I think we should all remember him for what he was, a great character and a great servant to the football club and celebrate what he did for everyone.

“He touched everyone who has ever played at the football club, even the ones who haven’t been here long, they all ask about ‘Rimmo’ and I think that’s how we should remember him because it was his life.

“Along with his family, the football club was his life.

“Unfortunately when I saw him last week he wasn’t talking great and couldn’t speak about football, but the time a couple of weeks before, he was telling me what I was doing wrong. That’s what I’ll always remember about him, personally I’ll be remembering good things and celebrating what a good man he was.”