Terriers secure another year in the Championship
Town ensured their Championship status for another season with a 2-2 draw against local rivals Barnsley.
Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan scored as Town twice came from behind to guarantee their safety.
Mark Robins, who spent two seasons as Barnsley Manager, made one change to the starting line-up that defeated Bristol City 3-1 at Ashton Gate last weekend. Lee Novak was replaced by Jermaine Beckford.
It was the visitors that started the brighter of the two sides. Anthony Gerrard found himself under pressure from Chris Dagnall as early as the first minute, but managed to put the ball behind for a corner. After a few short passes, Alex Smithies, the only Town player to start every League game this season, punched the ball clear.
Scott Wiseman came to Barnsley’s rescue shortly afterwards. A teasing ball from Adam Clayton on the 150th appearance of his career looked sure to find Jermaine Beckford, but the defender just got his body in the way.
The Tykes took the lead in the 14th minute through Chris O’Grady. A neat through-ball from David Perkins deceived Peter Clarke who lost his footing leaving O’Grady with time and space to slot the ball in the bottom right corner past Smithies.
Town had a promising chance to equalise just minutes later. Sean Scannell was fouled just on the edge of the box by Stephen Dawson, but Oliver Norwood was unable to find a Town player in the box with his delivery.
Jacob Mellis caused Town all sorts of problems with his pace on 25 minutes. His delivery into the box deceived everyone though.
Town’s leading scorer James Vaughan had the best chance of the first-half for Town with just five minutes remaining. A long clearance by Smithies for Beckford found its way to Vaughan – whose strike was just inches wide of Luke Steele’s goal.
Robins made two midfield substitutions at the break replacing Oscar Gobern and Norwood with Danny Ward and Keith Southern and Town started the second-half much brighter than the first.
Adam Clayton found himself with just Steele to beat on 52 minutes after brilliant build-up play between himself, Scannell and Vaughan. His shot struck Steele and the visitors cleared the danger.
However, just two minutes later, Beckford’s delightful chip over Steele after a brilliant pass from substitute Ward ensured that neither team would add to their 11 League clean sheets this season.
The visitors continued to raise their game and just moments later had a chance to restore their advantage. Dagnall’s strike from just inside the area was tipped just around the post by Smithies who was at full stretch.
Dawson found himself in a similar position to Dagnall on 60 minutes. However, once again Smithies was equal to Barnsley’s efforts.
Garry Flitcroft followed Robins’ decision to make a double-substitution on 66 minutes. The impressive Dagnall and Mellis were replaced by Huddersfield-born Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Jason Scotland.
The Tykes almost instantly regained the lead through a deflected shot from Perkins. Fortunately for Town, despite seeing it very late, Smithies managed to get his body behind the shot and keep the scores level.
The visitors did regain their lead on 74 minutes through substitute Scotland. O’Grady played Perkins in on the left-hand side. Perkins’ pace took him to the by-line to cross in for Scotland to head home from just a couple of yards.
With ten minutes remaining, Mark Robins made his final substitution with the arrival of Lee Novak, and almost immediately his pace ensured an equaliser for Town. Novak ran into the box and passed it to Vaughan, with the aid of a deflection, sent the ball past Steele to make the score 2-2 to the delight of the majority of the supporters in the Stadium.
Barnsley came close just minutes from the end, but Clayton’s interception proved crucial to keep the scores level.
With Crystal Palace winning against Peterborough, both teams knew their survival was guaranteed and the last five minutes of the game was played without contest as Luke Steele kept hold of the ball in the Barnsley penalty area.
Alex Smithies; Calum Woods, Anthony Gerrard, Peter Clarke (C), Jack Hunt; Sean Scannell (Lee Novak, 81), Oscar Gobern (Keith Southern, 46), Oliver Norwood (Danny Ward, 46), Adam Clayton; James Vaughan, Jermaine Beckford
Ian Bennett, Paul Dixon, Murray Wallace, Alan Lee
Bookings Town: Keith Southern (62 mins)
Bookings Barnsley: Jacob Mellis (49mins),Reuben Noble-Lazarus (73 mins)