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Opponents 2016/17: Trio who lifted themselves from League 1...

15 June 2016

A look at the trio of teams that have won promotion to the Championship

As we count down to fixture release day – which will take place in a week’s time – there will be some different grounds to visit for Royals fans in 2016/17 as we take a look at those sides that are newly promoted from League 1.

We’ve already had a look at the three sides who have dropped down from England’s top tier, so now we’ll focus on Wigan, Burton Albion and Barnsley who all battled their way to promotion in last season’s campaign…

2015/16: 1st in Sky Bet League 1 (87 pts)

Of the three teams that earned promotion from League 1, it was Wigan that did so in the most impressive style. Despite only finishing two points clear of nearest side Burton, the Latics took the League 1 title bagging an impressive 82 goals along the way, and finishing with a goal difference of +37.

Garry Caldwell was at the helm at the DW Stadium last season after taking over in April 2015 with the club 23rd in the Championship. Following the club’s relegation, the 34-year-old former centre-back turned the Wigan’s fortunes around in 2015/16 as they bounced back to the Championship on the first time of asking.  

Caldwell, who only retired in February 2015, initially joined Wigan’s coaching staff in the academy. The former Newcastle and Celtic defender was handed the top job at the DW Stadium just two months later following the dismissal of Malky Mackay, but could not save Wigan from the drop after taking over so late in the season.

Last year was a successful one for Caldwell and Wigan, winning 26 of their 47 league games in League 1, only suffering defeat on nine occasions as they went onto be crowned champions. Notable victories included putting five past Colchester and Shrewsbury, as-well-as two 4-0 wins over Blackpool.

Not much business has been done at the DW Stadium so far this summer with the Latics yet to bring in any players for the 2016/17 Championship campaign. The Lancashire club did have a number of players on-loan and will have a few returning from loan spells elsewhere, including full-back Andrew Taylor who was with the Royals last season.

The club have so far announced four pre-season fixtures, with Garry Caldwell’s side welcome Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to the DW on the 17th of July and also clashes with Chester, Macclesfield and Rochester all away from home.

The last time Reading faced Wigan was in a 1-0 defeat on the 17th of February 2015, when Wigan’s Jason Pearce scored the only goal of the game on his debut for the away side as the Latics stole a win at Madejski Stadium. You have to go back to September 2007 for Reading’s last win over the Lancashire club, when a 90th minute strike from James Harper sealed victory at the Mad Stad, in a 2-1 victory for Reading in the Premier League clash.

2015/16: 2nd in Sky Bet League 1 (85 pts)

Burton Albion added a new chapter to their sensational story by securing promotion to the Championship last season, as they continue their march up the English football pyramid. The Brewers finished second in League 1 under the guidance of both Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and then Nigel Clough. 
After Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink secured promotion to League 1 the previous season, Burton continued their good form in 2015/16. The Brewers won more games than any other team in League 1 last year, with 25 victories on the board at the end of the season. All this success came despite a managerial change half-way through the season when Hasselbaink left Albion for QPR and was replaced by Nigel Clough. This was Clough’s second spell at the club joining in December after the Dutchman’s departure.

Clough had previously spent just over a decade with the club, first joining in 1998 as player-manager and taking the club from the Southern Premier Division all the way to the football league, earning promotion to League 2 in 2008. Clough eventually left for Derby County in 2009 but was a popular choice when he retook the reigns and continued the team’s positive momentum in the second half of last season, guiding the club to a second straight promotion. On their way to promotion Burton picked up some notable scalps, including away wins against Sheffield United, Wigan and a 4-0 demolition of Port Vale.

So far this summer six players have departed Burton, with their contracts expiring at the club, but the Brewers are yet to make a signing. This is not surprising however with the summer transfer window officially opening on the 1st of July when business across Footballs top divisions will pick up.

Burton welcome Stoke City during pre-season as-well-as making a trip to the West Country to face Exeter City at St James Park. The Brewers will also welcome QPR to the Pirelli Stadium in a late July friendly, as they face their old manager’s club during preparations for the EFL Championship season.

Reading have only met Burton once, back in 2009, with the Royals sweeping Albion aside 5-1. Gylfi Sigurdsson grabbed a goal in the victory at the Mad Stad, but the Pirelli Stadium will be a new ground for Royals fans to visit, with Reading never having visited the Brewers in a competitive fixture.

2015/16: 6th in Sky Bet League 1, promoted via Play-Offs (74 pts)

After a thrilling end to the regular season, Barnsley finished 6th and scraped into the Play-Off places, where they beat Walsall 6-1 on aggregate over two-legs to reach Wembley. The Tykes went onto win promotion with a 3-1 victory over Millwall at the home of football, to secure their promotion to the Championship after two seasons away.

Paul Heckingbottom was named as permanent boss at Barnsley on the 15th of June 2016 after guiding the club to such a strong end to the season. Heckingbottom took charge at Oakwell on the 13th of February following Lee Johnson’s departure to Bristol City a week earlier. Though Heckingbottom was only caretaker manager for the remainder of the season, because of his success the club made his position permanent.

Barnsley’s final day thrashing of League 1 Champions Wigan ensured they sealed a spot in the Play-Off’s on goal difference, firing four goals past the Latics away from home, in a thrilling end to the season. They were the form side heading into the Play-Offs and comfortably dispatched Walsall in the semi-finals before deservedly beating Millwall in front of a crowd of over 50,000 at Wembley.

Barnsley are set to face newly promoted Premier League outfit Hull City in pre-season as-well-as fixtures against Peterborough and Guisley AFC in a busy schedule as the Tykes prepare for life in the EFL Championship.

So far this summer Barnsley have made a couple of signings at Oakwell, with Kayden Jackson and Stefan Payne both arriving from Wrexham and Dover respectively, and star winger Adam Hammill also putting pen-to paper today on a new two year contract with the club. Defensive duo George Smith and George Williams have both departed Barnsley, with 21-year-old Harry White also leaving to join Solihull Moors. 

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