BARNSLEY and Huddersfield Town, once involved in arguably Yorkshire’s most famous final day joint escapology act, are hoping to turn tomorrow into ‘Survival Sunday’.
The Reds head to Derby County as the curtain comes down on the Championship season knowing victory will be enough to guarantee safety.
Anything less, however, and Jose Morais’s fourth-bottom side can be overhauled by Burton Albion or Bolton Wanderers.
For Huddersfield, the finality facing Barnsley will be absent when they tackle champions Manchester City due to this being the penultimate and not final weekend of the Premier League season.
Nevertheless, the stakes remain incredibly high for David Wagner’s men at the start of a daunting week that also features encounters with Chelsea and Arsenal.
“We have three further opportunities against very good opponents to finish our miracle,” said the German, who will have one eye today on the matches involving main rivals Southampton and Swansea City as his side finish preparations for tackling the champions.
“It could be that we have what will be a real final on the last day of the season against Arsenal at home. But we will try to collect the points earlier.
“Everyone knows how difficult it will be against the champions. But we want to test ourselves against the best and this is our chance.
“We are in a position that we would have accepted before the season – it is in our own hands with three games to go. Yes, difficult opponents. But nothing in football is easy.”
Barnsley famously joined Town in staying up on the final day of the 2012-13 Championship campaign courtesy of a 2-2 derby draw between the old White Rose foes.
With Peterborough United losing elsewhere, the final few minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium saw Reds goalkeeper Luke Steele dribbling up and down his own penalty area as the home players watched from afar.
Cries of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ filled the air from both sets of supporters as referee Andre Marriner blew the final whistle.
No such helping hand will be available tomorrow at Pride Park, as Derby chase the win that will be enough to guarantee their own participation in the play-offs.
Morais, appointed in February following Paul Heckingbottom’s departure to Leeds United, said: “I am really praying for this achievement to happen because this is the thing that I most want.
It could be that we have what will be a real final on the last day of the season against Arsenal at home. But we will try to collect the points earlier.David Wagner
“Deep in my heart, I wish to offer this to the ones who want the club to move one step forward from the place that they are. Achieving this will obviously make me and so many people happy.
“I had the opportunity to see hundreds of people in a queue trying to buy tickets for the next game and just felt the love of the people for the club. It gave me the warmness in the heart that this is an achievement we really deserve and that I really want to fight for.”
Barnsley will be backed by 3,000 fans at Derby with another 1,000 watching a beamback at Oakwell. Morais has also had support from friend and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during the build-up.
“Jose is always wishing me the best,” added the Portuguese. “Obviously in a moment like this and before the games, he is texting me to say: ‘Good luck’. He has done that this week to say: ‘Go with everything and good luck’.”
Barnsley’s bid for Championship survival is the standout issue for White Rose football to be settled this weekend.
But it is far from the only one, as Middlesbrough and Rotherham United wait to discover their opponents in the play-offs.
Boro need a point from the trip to Ipswich Town to seal fifth place and a two-legged tie with Aston Villa. Lose at Portman Road, however, and Derby can leapfrog Tony Pulis’s men with victory over Barnsley and a swing of three goals in their favour.
That would then leave the Teessiders facing either Cardiff City or Fulham, depending on who misses out on automatic promotion.
Rotherham, meanwhile, will tackle whoever finishes fifth between Scunthorpe United, who host Bradford City, and Plymouth Argyle in the League One semi-finals.
Previews: Pages 2-4