Huddersfield Town v Barnsley: Tykes proved last season what can be achieved by football’s underdog – Carlos Corberan

ALMOST exactly a year ago to the day, Huddersfield Town and Barnsley met at the John Smith’s Stadium on a night when the visitors took a giant step towards the play-offs with victory.

Tonight, three points would guarantee a top-six finish for the Terriers as opposed to the Reds in their latest crunch derby meeting in West Yorkshire.

The highs and lows of Championship fortune are such that Barnsley will be relegated should they fail to triumph this evening.

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Alongside Luton, Huddersfield have been this season’s surprise packages in the play-off picture, just as the Reds were in 2020-21.

Huddersfield Town manager Carlos Corberan.Huddersfield Town manager Carlos Corberan.
Huddersfield Town manager Carlos Corberan.

Town’s place in the top six is fully merited, just as Barnsley’s was last term, with both producing stories to behold.

Town head coach Carlos Corberan said: “What they did last year was to show in football that there are more things than budgets and previous experiences of players (in order) to achieve something important.

“They achieved something no-one was expecting last year through a good organisation at a collective level.

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“This was something that was only positive for football and last year, we couldn’t beat them in the two games we played and in the first game this season, we could only take a point.

“Barnsley have drawn against Fulham – the best team in the Championship – Stoke, a very good team for me who we lost and drew against, Swansea, who we have drawn and lost against and beaten Middlesbrough.

“How they have played against good teams means we have to show them the highest level of respect and we are not guaranteed a play-off place yet.

“It is going to be a special game as we are playing against one opponent who have the need to win the game.”

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Town must make do without star winger Sorba Thomas and top-scorer Danny Ward tonight alongside two key defenders in Levi Colwill and Matty Pearson.

For Corberan, there’s no anxiety, only trust in his squad.

A defining feature of Town’s wholesome season has been that contributions have arrived across the board. A play-off place would represent an achievement by a squad of players in the truest sense of the word.

Huddersfield’s other leading facet has been their ability to handle adversity, whether that be a defeat or injury setback. This is a squad with a strong jaw.

Corberan, whose side have reacted with character to a brief dip before the last international break, continued: “If you do not react well from adversity, you cannot be a competitive team as adversity in football and life appears in some moments. It is about what is your answer. If your answer is to accept them and don’t try to overcome this situation, you are never going to be a competitive team, player or coach.”

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One player who has not had it easy on his Town return is Jordan Rhodes, who spent four years at Barnsley academy as a youngster.

Injury and the form of others has restricted his chances. But he has admirably persevered and enjoyed a moment to savour when he crowned a fine display of nous, leadership and fight – in the words of Corberan – with just his second goal of the season at old club Boro on Monday.

In Ward’s absence, Rhodes is set for another key role tonight.

Corberan added: “The fact he was running and fighting a lot only helped me push him (more).

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“This is the best thing that you can receive from a player and it was a good reaction as he’s one player who did not have the minutes that maybe he was expecting to have.

“He gave the right answer and I need to keep pushing him,” he added.

Last six games: Huddersfield LLWWDW; Barnsley WLDLDL.

Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).

Last time: Huddersfield 1 Barnsley 0, February 5, 2022; FA Cup.

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