THE good, the bad and the ugly was displayed in a tense weekend of action for Yorkshire’s sides - with the vast majority having something to truly fight for between now and season’s end.
The derby spoils emphatically went to Huddersfield Town, cock-a-hoop after a 4-1 blitzing of Leeds United, who were afforded a bitter reality check, while Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley supporters were also pleased as punch.
As for Doncaster Rovers and York City followers, more desperate developments ensued.
Here are five observations from the weekend’s action.
A statement win for David Wagner and Huddersfield Town, while Leeds United come crashing down to earth
There was no doubting Huddersfield’s merits in their consummate derby win over Leeds; they didn’t just beat them, they humiliated them in front of their own fans and made a mockery of the fact that the hosts were chasing a fourth straight win for the first time since November 2009.
Town have progressed noticeably under David Wagner, gegenpressing and all that, without a real statement win, aside from a 5-0 thumping of an awful Charlton side.
Events at Elland Road provided it, with the visitors having more quality, fight and hunger - you name it - in the most polished of second-half performances you can imagine, with the win boding well for future games with Sheffield Wednesday, Boro and Hull City.
Leeds were rank-bad and just didn’t get going, especially in a pitiful second period. One step forward and two back.
Unfortunately, this sort of display has reared its ugly head at too frequent interludes over recent years at Elland Road.
There’s just no stopping Rotherham United
If ever any side had cause to rue the international break, it is probably Rotherham United, for whom the games just cannot come thick and fast enough after a magnificent March.
If Neil Warnock doesn’t pick up the Championship manager of the month award for March, there should be a stewards enquiry, with uplifting results against Wednesday, Boro and Derby followed up with a fine win at Ipswich.
The insatiable team ethic again shone through from Warnock’s team of merry men, who were organised, combative, in your face and thoroughly together again in another marvellous collective team display laced with quality. Next up...Leeds United.
Problems for Hull City
The well is running dry for Hull City, who probably can’t wait for March to be dispensed with.
All looked rosy in the garden not so long back. But fast forward to now, with Hull having gone five games without a victory, while mustering just three goals in seven matches - which is hardly promotion statistics or form.
In mitigation, Hull deserved better on Teesside on Friday when Boro nicked a win at the death through David Nugent. But they have lost their goalscoring mojo, with Abel Hernandez and Mo Diame struggling to fire.
You sense that, perhaps, the international break has come at a good juncture for Hull, who can regroup and refocus and rest a few weary minds and bodies ahead of a pivotal April.
No luck whatsoever for Doncaster Rovers
It’s endemic of Doncaster’s malaise that despite producing a vastly improved performance in terms of energy and tempo against Peterborough, they imploded at the death in a desperate 2-1 loss to Posh.
It’s now 12 matches without a win for sorry Rovers, who have picked up just three points from a possible 36. Grim, grim statistics.
Darren Ferguson, admirably, is staying positive and believes Rovers can’t afford to be anything but, despite their horrendous run.
That improvement in performance was welcome and noticeable on Saturday, but crass defending for both goals, most especially at the end when Thorsten Stuckmann made a terrible decision and gifted Posh the winner, proved the story in the final analysis.
At the other end of the pitch, Rovers badly need another striking option with Andy Williams toiling and Ferguson is intent on bringing in another frontman before Thursday’s emergency loan deadline. It is certainly needed ahead of massive Easter fixtures with Colchester and Blackpool.
A big win for Barnsley and a positive reaction
After last weekend’s home loss to Southend, a couple of questions greeted Barnsley ahead of their trip to Fleetwood, scene of their memorable penalty shoot-out victory to take them to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last month.
Few should have doubted the Reds given their stunning upturn in the New Year and they delivered with an excellent victory on the Fylde coast to move back into the play-off zone.
Defeats do happen, but what separates the good sides from the also-rans is those who produce an instant reaction, as Barnsley did at Fleetwood.
From November 24 to now, Barnsley have lost just one away game. Very impressive.