Are Barnsley FC improving, and are Huddersfield Town too tentative?

THE boos at the final whistle came from the away end at Oakwell and not the home sections.

Given the dismal and disquieting season that Barnsley are enduring, at least it will have made for a bit of a departure for their stoic and suffering supporters amid the cold and the rain.

It was a small gain but Barnsley require more than small gains to save themselves.

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Poya Asbaghi saw his side score the first goal of his tenure and a decent one it was from Carlton Morris on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Lewis O’Brien’s 33rd-minute opener.

Get in: Carlton Morris celebrates his equaliser for Barnsley. Pictures: Bruce Rollinson

In so doing, Morris ensured Asbaghi avoided the ignominy of becoming the first Reds manager to see his side fail to score in his first three league games in charge. You have to start somewhere.

Barnsley showed incremental improvement, certainly in terms of their offensive build-up play and tempo, but still produced just two shots on target with no corners – and barely threatened in the second half especially.

Yet given what had gone before against Peterborough and Swansea, it was progress as Asbaghi rightly said. In his position, you have to take what you can.

The greater agitation belonged to Carlos Corberan and it was shared by Huddersfield’s 3,878 travelling support at the end.

Leading the way: Captain Lewis O'Brien celebrates scoring Huddersfield's goal.

Town had the better chances, certainly in the first period when they not only found the net, but also struck the woodwork and kept Brad Collins honest.

Yet there was a feeling that they should be doing better. Wrong options were taken in the attacking third and there was no strong spell of second-half pressure to test a Barnsley side in the relegation zone who boasted just one win in their previous 18 matches.

It explained the brief chorus of displeasure at the end.

Offering his take, Asbaghi said: “The (Barnsley) crowd know the situation and they want to see we are developing and right now that is the most important thing.

“If we’d won and played really bad, even if you get two points more maybe you’ll be even more frightened of what will come.

“We are still pretty early. For us, it is about collecting points, but we also need to develop as we need to collect points five and 10 games from now and have a certain level we play, so we collect points every week hopefully.

“I hope they got a glimpse of that, but also understand we are not happy with a draw. But we are happy with our development.”

Town are walking a tightrope between being play-off outsiders and drifting into no-man’s land in lower mid-table. Corberan knew the need to win on Saturday and his attacking substitutions conveyed that. There was a restlessness to see his side find a way to win and they did not.

In four matches away to the current bottom four this season, Town have failed to win and picked up three points from a possible 12. Therein lies a tale.

It was also another day when Sorba Thomas – the Championship’s player of the month for August – struggled. The Wales international looks low on confidence and has temporarily lost his mojo. It is a further concern for Corberan.

He said: “He (Thomas) made a lot of impact at the beginning of the season because nobody expected that impact. The players need to continue to improve as when the opponents know you more, they can control you more and you need to develop different skills to be more unpredictable and offer more solutions.

“That’s not just for Sorba Thomas, that’s for all our attacking players. We have a lot of possibilities to improve our team.”

The conviction from a Town perspective came from a familiar source in O’Brien.

Poor the previous weekend – and unhappy at his display according to Corberan – O’Brien did what all good professionals who care about their craft must do in delivering an instant response.

It was manifested in a well-taken opener. An uncharacteristically loose pass from Michal Helik was seized upon and incisive play by Danny Ward, Fraizer Campbell and Josh Koroma set up the Town captain, who fired home a clinical low strike after surging clear.

For the sixth home game on the trot, Barnsley conceded first.

The recalled Koroma came to the party in the first half, testing Collins with a fine curler and a close-range shot before cracking the woodwork from distance.

Shortly after Koroma hit the bar, Barnsley were level when Helik – the headline-grabber in this fixture last Boxing Day – atoned to set up Morris, who cashed in on indecision to steer home his first goal of the season in a performance which underlined his importance to the Reds’ cause.

The game was tantalisingly poised, but the second period was disappointing and a let-down with the annoyance of the Huddersfield contingent clearly evident.

Barnsley had some tidy pockets of play, but faded, particularly late on with no bench inspiration.

For their part, Town tapped on the door tentatively in the second half when they should have been banging it down. Thomas’s set-plays bordered on the dreadful.

A draw it was in the incessant rain. It was never likely to be raining goals, was it?