Huddersfield Town 2 Barnsley 1: Tykes relegated as Terriers clinch play-off spot

There was an air of predictability about last night’s Yorkshire derby as Huddersfield Town booked their place in the Championship play-offs, and Barnsley were relegated. You never really expected anything else.

There may only have been one goal between them on the scoreboard, but to say it flattered the Reds would be an extreme understatement.

The points swing between the Yorkshire sides has been an incredible 75 points since last season, something that can only happen when a huge amount of good work by one club combines with some spectacularly bad decision-making by the other.

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Both sides came into the game with a momentum which felt unstoppable, and Huddersfield’s deceptively comfortable 2-1 win showed as much.

Barnsley's Isaac Christie-Davies looking dejected as relegation is confirmed. Picture: PA

The opening goal from a fourth-minute corner summed up where the two teams are.

Town used the game to mark the 100th anniversary of their first major trophy, the 1922 FA Cup final. They made history by winning that game with a Billy Smith penalty and the current crop make effective use of restarts too.

Duane Holmes, on corner duty in the absence of the injured Sorba Thomas, delivered a ball in the direction of Jordan Rhodes, filling in for Danny Ward, who was in an offside position.

That did not matter because when Tom Lees failed to get a touch on the ball it flicked instead of Barnsley’s Mads Andersen, playing the striker onside. At first the goal was disallowed but after much discussion, the officials reached the correct decision.

Barnsley's Romal Palmer looking dejected as relegation is confirmed. Picture: PA

It was just Barnsley’s luck and just Huddersfield’s too. Regardless of the injuries, the Terriers are on a roll.

Rhodes, a bit-part player this season, has made a habit of biting the hands that have fed him this week. On Monday he scored in a win against former club Middlesbrough and he spent four years in Barnsley’s youth system. Those goals trebled his output for the season.

From there not a huge amount happened for a long spell.

Amine Bassi looked livelier than the gloves he was wearing on a mild evening might have suggested but the effort he hit at Lee Nicholls from a Cauley Woodrow nod-down was his side’s only shot on target of the half.

Barnsley's Liam Kitching following relegation to League One. Picture: PA

They tried to play the right way, they just were not good enough at it. Their recruitment has been poor, the players they relied on last season just not doing it this. Callum Styles was again on the bench.

As the first half went on, Huddersfield balls over the top and out wide to the overlapping Harry Toffolo became more productive.

Jon Russell and Holmes, when he drifted in from the right of a Huddersfield 4-2-3-1, were finding pockets of space and passes at the end of them.

When Russell found Danel Sinani he took his time only to hit his shot against a defender. Twice in succession balls over the top were scuppered by offside flags as players ran down the right – one correct, one probably wrong but so marginal it was forgivable.

With Huddersfield’s “three-quarter line” very fluid, Lewis O’Brien increasingly drifted off the left too, leaving plenty of space for Toffolo. Holmes picked out the left-back in the 38th minute, but Jack Walton saved. When Russell found him in the 45th minute, Toffolo overhit his cross.

It was no surprise, therefore, when Toffolo scored the second, in first-half stoppage time.

Holmes and Sinani exchanged passes before the later lofted a ball over the top and Toffolo stretched his studs onto it.

He continued the second half in the same vein but when Toffolo played the ball inside, O’Brien miskicked.

Huddersfield took Sinani off at the interval and were happy to keep Barnsley at arm’s length, knowing any punches they threw were unlikely to do much harm.

In the 64th minute Carlton Morris did well to wriggle into space and lay the ball back for Domingos Quina to shoot. Instead, he took it wide and tried and failed to pick out a team-mate.

Romal Palmer shot over and Cauley Woodrow sliced a shot wide as Naby Sarr stood off him.

They did manage three bookings in five minutes - two for reckless fouls, one dissent.

It made for a second half which was a long way from engaging for the television viewers but Huddersfield fans made their own entertainment, signing about promotion.

It was cruel if correct of the officials to extend Barnsley’s agony into seven minutes of stoppage time but substitute Styles at least made use of it, hitting a cracking but worthless finish in the sixth added minute.

“You’re not fit to wear the short,” sang the away fans amongst a blunter assessment of their side.

The chasm between the relegation-fighters-turned-promotion-contenders and play-off-semi-finalists-turned-relegated side is astonishing.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton, Lees, Sarr, Toffolo (Ruffels 84); Russell, Hogg; Holmes (Campbell 89), Sinani (High 46), O’Brien; Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Pipa, Anjorin, Blackman, Eiting.

Barnsley: Walton; Brittain, Andersen, Kitching, Vita; Palmer, Wolfe (Christie-Davies 69); Quina (Styles 69), Bassi, Morris; Woodrow (Iseka 69). Unused substitutes: Jinadu, Moon, Hondermarck, Adeboyejo.

Referee: J Linnington (isle of Wight).