A SPARKING performance by Nahki Wells inspired Huddersfield Town to deliver a crushing blow to Barnsley’s survival hopes.
The Bermudian striker might not have got on the scoresheet, which he so richly deserved, but he provided valuable assists for four Town goals and showed he is much more than just a finisher.
He left the pitch late on to a stirring ovation from Town fans, while also picking up the man-of-the-match award.
It was a day when Mark Robins’ side dined out at the Reds’ defence continually, with their ravaged rearguard disintegrating after Keith Southern tucked away the hosts’ opener with a rare goal just before the half-hour mark.
Soon after, Danny Ward fired in Town’s second, with a strike just after the interval from ex-Reds player Adam Hammill settling the issue and end any realistic hopes of a comeback by Barnsley.
Adam Clayton added a fourth from the spot on 58 minutes after Wells was brought down by Luke Steele, the cue for several visiting fans to beat the queues and leave for home early.
Late on, sub Sean Scannell fired in a fifth to rub considerable salt into the wounds for Barnsley on 86 minutes.
The Reds faithful may have fully enjoyed a memorable afternoon on their previous encounter in Huddersfield, on a never-to-be-forgotten day when both Yorkshire rivals clinched their safety from the Championship drop, but it was a wholly different story this time around.
Sections of Reds supporters showed what they thought of matters just after Scannell’s fifth with a chorus of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” following the most dismal of afternoons, far removed from their previous visit to Huddersfield.
Seeking to avoid their third consecutive home defeat, Town - who made three changes with Peter Clarke and Tommy Smith dropped to the bench and Jonathan Hogg out injured - went mighty close to an eight-minute opener.
Reds skipper Martin Cranie’s clearance was charged down by Ward and he surged clear on goal and dinked the ball over Steele, only for the covering Peter Ramage to save the day with a clearance.
Soon after, the Reds - who handed a full debut for Liam Lawrence, who replaced the ill Jim O’Brien - almost drew first blood themselves with ex-Town full-back Jack Hunt’s low cross met at the far post by the outstretched leg of Ncik Proschwitz, with home captain Alex Smithies making a point-blank block.
It was proving an open game, with Town - who brought in Murray Wallace, Callum Woods and Southern - keen to make derby amends with supporters following last weekend’s dismal loss to Sheffield Wednesday.
A desperate last-ditch challenge from Anthony Gerrard denied Proschwitz following Lawrence’s excellent cross, with the next significant action seeing Hunt booked for a clumsy challenge on Adam Hammill.
Worse was to follow for the Reds from the resultant free-kick, with an unlikely source putting Mark Robins’ side ahead.
The Reds failed to clear their lines with Wells firing a cross-shot across goal, with Southern obliging with the tap-in close to the goalline for his first goal of the campaign on 29 minutes.
Three minutes later, Town doubled their money with an incisive move down the left ending in a slick finish by Ward.
He fired clinically home following Wells’ cross after initial good work from Ollie Norwood.
Increasing under siege and looking flustered, panicky and porous at the back, the Reds were starting to look all over the place, with their rearguard not helped by a lack of defensive cover from the midfield, with Town starting to carve them open almost at will.
Wells was denied getting his name on the scoresheet after nipping in down Barnsley’s left, with Steele making a fine save to block his angled shot before Hunt fired a curler over after enterprise down the right.
Norwood, enjoying himself immensely along with the likes of Ward and Wells, then saw his shot saved by Steele before the Reds were again dissected, with Steele stranded out of his goal, with a move ending with Wells clipping the bar with his rising effort.
The Reds had a final scare before reaching the sanctuary of the dressing-room with Hammill showing neat skill as the visitors’ backed off before steering a curling effort wide.
No doubt on the receiving end of a few sharp words from Danny Wilson and his coaching staff at the interval, Barnsley had plenty to do to get back in their manager’s good books, but they effectively signed their death note a few minutes in.
Wells played in Hammill, whose fiercely-struck shot was parried into the air by Steele, with the loose ball spinning towards goal and over the line, with the Town winger helping it over after following up his effort.
A rare Reds thrust saw Smithies turn away Emmanuel Frimpong’s effort before Town ensured more woe for the visitors with a fourth.
Jacob Mellis surrendered possession too easily in midfield with Clayton sending Wells clear, with the onrushing Steele clipping the heels of the striker as he raced out.
Clayton blasted in the spot-kick, his sixth goal of the campaign in front of the disgruntled Reds fans.
Town had chances to add a fifth, with Ward’s effort turned away by Steele, after he was somewhat inevitably set up by Wells.
Southern, clearly with the scent for more goals, then saw his long shot deflected wide as Town sought to add to Barnsley’s pains.
Barnsley were denied a consolation six minutes from time with a fine saving challenge from Anthony Gerrard denying substitute Brek Shea.
In the end, they had to settle for four with it very much a case of one step forward, two back for the Reds, who couldn’t have had a more contrasting Saturday to the previous weekend’s much-needed win bonus over Millwall.
Huddersfield Town: Smithies; C Woods, Gerrard, Wallace, Dixon; Clayton, Southern, Hammill (Scannell 68); Ward (Lolley 87), Norwood, Wells (Paterson 87). Subs not used: Bennett, Clarke, Gobern, Smith.
Barnsley: Steele; Hunt, Ramage, Cranie, Kennedy; Lawrence, Frimpong (Dawson 77), Mellis, Jennings (Shea 55); Proschwitz (McCourt 61), O’Grady. Subs not used: Dibble, M Woods, Pedersen, M’Voto.
Referee: David Coote (Northants).
Attendance: 14, 236 (1,973 Barnsley fans).
Huddersfield boss Mark Robins: “Nahki was absolutely phenomenal and I just wish he could have got the goal his workrate deserved.
“He puts himself under pressure because he is a goalscorer and he wants to score, I understand that, but if he keeps working hard the goals will come.”
Barnsley manager Danny Wilson: “Football is cruel sometimes. We are going to have bad days and this was a bad day, but we need to knuckle down in training and make sure we don’t give easy goals away.
“The goals we gave away were poor and we need to be more resilient.”
Wilson added: “The fans are passionate and you can’t argue with the fans because they follow the club through thick and thin.
“We will get the flak, especially from our fans, but we have to take it on the chin.”