The Barnes and Wood effect
Six days ago, Burnley won 3-1 at Brighton with our two strikers scoring all the goals. Chris Wood netted the first two with Ashley Barnes converting a penalty for the second successive game.
It’s perhaps appropriate that it is after a game at Brighton that we take a look at their record together; it was there that this particular seed was first sown over eight years ago when the pair played alongside each other in a League One fixture at the Withdean Stadium.
Barnes was a Brighton player; he’d signed for them in the summer of 2010 from Plymouth after a short loan at the end of the previous season. Wood, meanwhile, wouldn’t have made it to Brighton under current FIFA rules. He’d played twice for his parent club West Brom at the start of the season, featuring in a Premier League game at Liverpool . He’d then gone out on loan to Barnsley for a couple of months before signing a loan deal with Brighton from November 2010 until the end of the season.
And so it was that the pair lined up for Brighton for the first time on 20th November 2010 against Bristol Rovers. The game ended in a 2-2 draw with Wood scoring Brighton’s second goal from the penalty spot although, by then, Barnes had been substituted and replaced by Glenn Murray.
Barnes’ first goal after this game was on New Year’s Day. Brighton beat Leyton Orient 5-0; he scored the final goal but had actually come on as a substitute, replacing Wood, early in the second half.
It was a week later before they scored goals when they were both on the pitch. This time they both started the game, as did Murray, for a 3-1 home win in the FA Cup against Portsmouth. Wood opened the scoring midway through the first half with Barnes also converting a penalty right on half time.
From the day Wood made his debut, he went on to score nine times for Brighton while Barnes scored thirteen times in the same period to help Brighton win promotion to the Championship ahead of their first season at the Amex Stadium.
Barnes remained at Brighton for a further two and a half seasons; by the time the next season started, Wood was on loan at Birmingham and it would be some time before the two lined up on the pitch alongside each other again.
It came in August 2017 and the surroundings couldn’t have been more different than the dreadful Withdean Stadium. They’d both played a part in the easy 2-0 win at Blackburn in the League Cup but four days later, with us trailing 1-0 against Spurs at Wembley, they both came on as substitutes, replacing Sam Vokes and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson twelve minutes into the second half. Both played their parts in our stoppage time equaliser; Barnes headed the ball down for Robbie Brady with Wood getting on the end of his pass to score.
For one reason or another, we had to wait until March before the pair started a league game for Burnley. Wood had been out injured and had missed nine games when he returned via the bench for a home game against Everton. Trailing 1-0 at half time, Sean Dyche brought on Wood for Jeff Hendrick. Both he and Barnes scored as we finally came from behind to win a Premier League game under Dyche’s management.
One week later, there was an hour gone at West Ham when Wood replaced Hendrick again as Dyche went 4-4-2. This time it was still 0-0 but Barnes scored again, followed by a Wood brace to give us a 3-0 win.
And so, finally, on 31st March 2018, the pair started together for the first time. Both scored again in a 2-1 win. They lined up together another five times last season; Wood scored in the 2-1 win against Leicester and Barnes in the 1-1 draw at Stoke. Injuries caused them both to miss games at the end of the season and the last time they started together was in the stale 0-0 home draw against Brighton.
Wood was back on the bench for the Boxing Day disaster against Everton, but since, the pair have started every game and with some effect. Forgetting the cup games, we’ve played seven league games, winning four and drawing three. Much has been said of Tom Heaton’s return and of Dwight McNeil’s introduction, and both have been very important ingredients in our recent upturn in form.
But our strike pair have been scoring goals in those games too. In seven games they’ve scored nine goals between them, four for Barnes and five for Wood. That partnership which kicked off under Gus Poyet at Brighton, when Barnes was just 21 and Wood an 18-year-old, is really blossoming right now at Turf Moor.Follow UpTheClarets:
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