THIS was one ‘wunderbar’ contribution from a player born in Germany that David Wagner could have done without.
References to the seismic impact made by Huddersfield Town’s flourishing contingent from across the North Sea have been plentiful, but it was a rival player born there whose ‘sehr gut’ showing was feted on Saturday.
Born in the town of Rinteln in Lower Saxony, Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies – whose father was stationed in the forces – successfully repelled most of what Town aimed in his direction.
When Davies was not around, the likes of home captain Marc Roberts did their level best to help out as Barnsley grafted for a derby point to thwart Town’s hopes of recording a seventh straight league win for the first time since November, 1982.
Enjoying a sterling season, Davies made an excellent double-save in the first half to deny Izzy Brown and Aaron Mooy, but reserved his best moment for late on when he turned away a stinging volley from Collin Quaner that the big Town striker could not have struck sweeter if he had tried a thousand times.
It was all in a day’s work for the self-effacing goalkeeper, but his pride was clearly detectable as he clutched the man-of-the-match champagne after playing a leading role in helping the Reds reach the 50-point mark for the season with 12 games to go.
Davies said: “It was a good derby with a lot of hustle and bustle with blocks on the line.
“We really did bring it to them, especially in the second half when we were so much better than the first half when we didn’t really lay a finger on them. It was a good point.
“We worked all week on the way to stop them and we weren’t doing that on the pitch in the first half and he (manager Paul Heckingbottom) really had a go at us at half-time and said this is what we are going to do and showed us on the video and I think we did go out in the second half and perform a lot better.
“They are a good team. We did show them a bit too much respect, but we did get to grips with it in the end.”
They are a good team. We did show them a bit too much respect, but we did get to grips with it in the end.Barnsley goalkeeper, Adam Davies.
Adamant that the Reds should derive plenty of pleasure from reaching the half-century of points for the campaign before the start of March, Davies added: “It usually keeps you safe and anything you get now is a bonus.
“It is a fantastic achievement. That was the aim at the start of the season, to establish ourselves as a Championship team.”
Given the evidence of the first half, a point would have represented an unexpected bonus for Barnsley by the final whistle.
For pretty much the entirety of the opening period, it was easy to see why Huddersfield are enjoying their best season at this level since those heady days way in 1969-70 when the likes of Frank Worthington and Trevor Cherry ruled the roost.
Backed by a travelling contingent of 4,619 supporters, Town resembled a team for all seasons and showcased plenty of evidence as to why they look the real Championship deal. No fake news here.
Heckingbottom spoke about how sitting in the stand due to a one-match touchline ban would prove a real bugbear. His frustration will have been further compounded by watching the first-half action unfold.
Physically imposing with a ferocious work ethic and polish to complement a distinct competitive streak across the pitch, Town showed clear strains of the workaholic Burnley side who engineered a resounding promotion last season.
Yet their dominance yielded just one goal when Michael Hefele’s thumping header, which took a slight deflection off Matty James, rocketed into the net on 18 minutes following Mooy’s corner.
Davies got to work to block Brown’s point-blank effort after a strong run from Quaner before turning away Mooy’s fierce strike moments later as Town laid siege.
Aside from an early penalty shout – replays showed the hosts had a case when Ryan Kent tumbled under Chris Schindler’s challenge – Barnsley posed little threat, aside from Angus MacDonald’s header, held by Danny Ward.
It was to the Reds’ credit that they hung in before rediscovering their own identity in a second half much more in keeping with their effervescent efforts in 2016-17.
The introduction of ex-Town winger Adam Hammill and Tom Bradshaw just after the hour-mark also helped and while gaps did appear at the other end, Barnsley at least had a go.
A few scares arose, notably when James blocked a goalbound strike from substitute Jon Gorenc Stankovic before Ward denied Marley Watkins.
But the Town goalkeeper could not stop the Welshman from volleying home a near-post equaliser out of nothing on 74 minutes after he connected instantly to Hammill’s defence-splitting centre.
Town poured forward with a stunning goalline clearance from Roberts denying Brown, Quaner’s follow-up being blocked and the visiting striker and Hefele also going desperately close.
Barnsley: Davies; Yiadom, Roberts, MacDonald, Jones; Mowatt (Bradshaw 62), Scowen, James, Kent (Hammill 62); Watkins, Armstrong (Williams 90). Unused substitutes: Townsend, Elder, Jackson, Moncur.
Huddersfield Town: Ward; Smith, Hefele, Schindler (Stankovic 51), Lowe; Whitehead (Billing 59), Mooy; Kachunga, Brown, Van La Parra (Lolley 81); Quaner. Unused substitutes : Coddington, Holmes-Dennis, Cranie, Payne.
Referee: T Robinson (West Sussex).