ON A WEEKEND for getting the job done and a touch of obstinate defiance as opposed to spectacular earth-shattering entertainment, substance generally reigned over style for Yorkshire’s clubs.
For Hull City supporters, that fortitude served their side remarkably well in a thoroughly spirited cup draw at Arsenal, which smacked of real guts and character, while Barnsley fans are busy radiating in the glow this morning of a deserved derby win over Doncaster Rovers, whose followers are starting to look at the League One table with a touch of concern
There was also huge disappointment for the 4,000-plus travelling Leeds United fans at Watford, with their season now effectively over as a competitive entity following an agonising FA Cup loss.
The 5,500 Sheffield Wednesday army who descended upon Preston were also given a reality check after their side’s loss at Deepdale.
Rotherham United also suffered not too far away across the M65 at Burnley, but there was relief for Sheffield United and a bit to shout about for Huddersfield Town, who have cast aside their recent wobble to win back-to-back league games.
Here are five observations to ponder from the weekend ...
1: Hull City’s itinerary has another addition, but they can cope.
In an ideal world, Steve Bruce may have preferred a penalty shoot-out to settle Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Arsenal and, from a manager’s perspective, it is easy to understand why he doesn’t particularly possess the cup romantic in him, given that a replay against the Gunners is another addition to his side’s crowded schedule.
But, in fairness, City have the resources to juggle things around with a vastly-changed line-up which will not bear much resemblance to the side who will take the field at Portman Road against Ipswich tomorrow night proving that.
Hull’s back-up options are the envy of most in the Championship and will get another chance to showcase their talents next week. It would unquestionably be more of a problem if Bruce is having to utilise many of those who are key players in their quest for promotion. But with their squad well blessed with options and relatively fit and healthy - touch wood - fighting on two fronts is just about do-able.
2: Leeds United need to ensure that their season doesn’t peter out amid discord and disharmony.
With Leeds now out of the cup and marooned in Championship no-man’s land, self-motivation will be key for those in a Whites jersey.
But as Steve Evans has always been quick to point out, anyone who can’t be motivated by striding out for the club shouldn’t be here - his utterances have suggested as much on numerous occasions.
Leeds will see who really wants to be part of the club’s future in the games and weeks ahead. With one of Evans’s core strengths being motivation, it is up to him to conjure the desired response from his players too.
3: A reality check for the Owls ahead of a big week.
Preston are a strong, well-organised and honest Championship side very much in the mould of their manager Simon Grayson and few could argue about the fact they deserved victory over Wednesday at Deepdale.
It was not the craved-for development for the Owls in front of a massive travelling contingent, but with a home game against QPR on Tuesday, Wednesday can ensure that any wounds don’t fester by picking up three points.
Perspective should still be afforded. Wednesday are in a terrific position and Saturday was their first defeat since December 28. Setbacks happen in the topsy-turvy world of the Championship. It is about how you respond.
4: Doncaster are in a spot of bother.
Without a win in seven matches in all competitions and with on-song Millwall next up, these are worrying times for Doncaster Rovers.
Granted, their display at Oakwell wasn’t as anaemic as the dire derby offering served up against Sheffield United seven days earlier, but it yielded no points either - and they could not have too many complaints after not creating much against Barnsley.
Rovers looked shorn of confidence in the final third, with Nathan Tyson still clearly feeling his way back from injury. They will need to produce a win soon or else they will be pitted in a bonafide relegation fight between now and early May.
5: Barnsley for the play-offs?
As it stands, anything is surely possible for buoyant Barnsley given their fine upturn this year, with home rule proving the cornerstone. Saturday’s win over Doncaster was their fifth on the spin at Oakwell in the league, something last achieved in the promotion campaign of 1996-97.
Teams positioning for the play-offs will now be conscious of Barnsley and they again delivered a commendable weekend performance to bolster the claims of Paul Heckingbottom in landing the full-time post.
Continuity is currently yielding its rewards for the Reds. They now need to ‘run with the ball.’