INSTEAD of wearing an extra layer to cope with the intense Arctic temperatures last night, relegation rivals Hull City and Barnsley were probably more minded to don the equivalent of combat fatigues.
Battle lines had been drawn for a fair while prior to a fixture of immense significance towards the foot of the Championship and it had nothing to do with making contingencies to cope with the so-called ‘Beast from the East’.
On an evening when their relegation rivals sat by the fireside, these Yorkshire combatants were handed a heaven-sent chance to ease their plight with a milestone victory – only for it to pass both by.
Ultimately, this will be a result that will have been better received by the pair’s fellow strugglers, with the wait for back-to-back league victories for both the Tigers and the Reds frustratingly extended.
You have to go back to early November for the last occasion that Barnsley won successive Championship fixtures, while Hull last hailed consecutive league wins in April 2017.
The Tigers at least will have been grateful for preserving their unbeaten home league sequence, which extended to eight matches on an evening that was marred by a serious-looking injury to Barnsley defender Adam Jackson, stretchered off after an aerial collision with Jon Toral, which saw play stopped for 11 minutes at the end of the first half.
Jackson was attended to by a number of medical staff and administered with oxygen before being taken off the pitch, receiving applause from both sets of supporters among the 14,003 crowd, Hull’s smallest in the league since 2003.
Leading thanks to a clinical 22nd-minute header from Oli McBurnie – rapidly emerging as the talisman in their push for survival – Jose Morais’s side were good value for their advantage.
But after Jackson’s lengthy treatment and departure amid worrying scenes, the narrative of the game changed, with the Reds, perhaps affected by the incident, never quite the same.
Hull, laboured in the first period, seized the initiative on the restart and applied the pressure, which paid off when a captain’s knock saw Michael Dawson fire home a leveller 18 minutes from time following Seb Larsson’s corner.
The Tigers pushed for a winner, but it remained all-square, with Barnsley entitled to be the more satisfied after backing up Saturday’s morale-boosting win in Birmingham by taking something from another relegation rival on the road.
The mood of many Hull supporters, who played their part to help the Tigers claim a key victory on Friday night, was handed a pre-match fillip with the news that the club had committed to introducing new branding guidelines from April 2 that would entail a return to the use of ‘Hull City’ and the scrapping of the controversial Hull Tigers brand.
Minutes from a Supporters Committee meeting also revealed that talks regarding concessions would also be held.
On the pitch, Hull palpably struggled to carry on where they left off against Sheffield United, with Barnsley displaying the vestiges of fluidity in the first half.
It yielded a clinical breakthrough when the irrepressible McBurnie powered home an unstoppable header from an inch-perfect cross from the influential Brad Potts.
It perhaps will have come as no surprise to Reds followers that McBurnie provided the decisive contribution to endear himself further in the hearts of Reds followers.
The Swansea loanee – who drew high praise from Morais at the weekend when he labelled him as an ‘extraordinary man’ after his double at St Andrew’s –proved the difference with a clinical header for his fourth goal in four games.
Barnsley, who sprang a surprise by naming Andy Yiadom on the bench with Gary Gardner becoming their fourth captain of the season, were able to reflect on well-organised and proficient half in which their team ethic and organisation was striking.
A key early challenge from ex-Reds captain Angus MacDonald denied Potts, who posed problems with his midfield bursts, while McBurnie, who started his career at Bradford City, conjured a moment of incision when it mattered.
Hull’s best opportunity arrived when Nouha Dicko fired a cross-shot across goal, but in contrast to the visitors, the hosts – minus the injured Evandro, who impressed on Friday – were somewhat uninspiring.
The tide changed on the restart with Nick Townsend denying MacDonald a goal against his old club with an important near-post block before the goalkeeper gathered Jarrod’s Bowen’s header.
Dawson eventually restored parity, but there was no second derby victory in a row.
Hull City: McGregor; Aina, Dawson, MacDonald, Clark; Larsson, Irvine; Bowen, Toral (Keane 45), Diomande (Grosicki 62); Dicko (Campbell 70). Substitutes unused: Marshall, Hector, Tomori, Stewart.
Barnsley: Townsend; Cavare, Jackson (Pearson 45), Lindsay, Pinillos; Williams, Potts, Gardner; Thiam (Yiadom 62), Moore, McBurnie (Moncur 78). Substitutes unused: Davies, Bradshaw, Mallan, Mahoney.
Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).