It’s men against boys as Huddersfield Town leave Barnsley anchored to bottom

Goal: Huddersfield's Karlan Grant celebrates his goal against Barnsley. Picture: Graham Crowther
Goal: Huddersfield's Karlan Grant celebrates his goal against Barnsley. Picture: Graham Crowther
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CHARITY was the order of the day at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Yet while grant aid was in abundance for the hosts, children in need took on a whole new meaning for callow Barnsley.

He has got the world at his feet. It is very important that he stays grounded and keeps doing what he is doing. But he has got everything. He is the closest thing I have seen to Callum Wilson (England striker) and that is a big statement from me as we all know what he has gone on to do.

Tommy Elphick on Karlan Grant

A souvenir from a pretty terrible year, Karlan Grant provided the pyrotechnics – the day before Huddersfield’s fireworks display at the John Smith’s Stadium.

His regular supply line of goals has been a reassuring feature of what has all the hallmarks of being another testing season for the Terriers, but his creative talents have also not been overlooked by a thankful Danny Cowley.

A telling assist saw Grant hoodwink Reds defender Toby Sibbick on the half-hour to set up Town’s soft opener for captain Chris Schindler – while the statuesque Barnsley rearguard stood and watched.

A touch of deadly class eight minutes after the break ultimately settled this particular Yorkshire affair when Grant’s instinctive curler sailed past Brad Collins, with more benevolence in the build-up from Barnsley.

A late strike from Halifax-born Jacob Brown set up a finale which had not previously hinted at drama, but it was a familiar feeling for Barnsley afterwards.

Three games into his caretaker tenure, Adam Murray has already grown tired of talk about the Reds being young and naive. Sadly, it is a well-established fact.

Barnsley, the youngest side in the Championship, desperately need help and leadership at the back. A spectator at Huddersfield, chairman Paul Conway will have surely deduced that fact.

As it stands, the bottom-placed Reds look a side who must score two or possibly three goals to win a league match. Because there is no way in the world that they will keep a clean sheet at present.

When these two neighbours met on a memorable final-day of 2012-13, there was a post-match love-in with chants of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ as Town and Reds supporters celebrated Championship survival.

On Saturday’s evidence, the money may be on Huddersfield achieving that cherished aim come next May, but unfortunately not Barnsley, chiefly due to their defensive gullibility.

Offering his thoughts on a key win for Town and the seismic impact of Grant, defender Tommy Elphick, the sort of old head at the back whom Barnsley are crying out for, said: “Karlan is on eight goals now and that is an incredible achievement as we are not yet in November and he is making unbelievable strides.

“Not only when he plays down the middle, but when he plays out wide as well. He has been our threat.

“He (Grant) has got the world at his feet. It is very important that he stays grounded and keeps doing what he is doing. But he has got everything. He is the closest thing I have seen to Callum Wilson (England striker) and that is a big statement from me as we all know what he has gone on to do.

“We need to enjoy him while he is in this form and keep pushing him forward.”

The early signs did not look so benign for Huddersfield, whose hangover from Wednesday’s feeble second-half against Middlesbrough seemed to continue.

It was Barnsley, fresh from their uplifting exploits at West Brom, who looked the more proficient with Conor Chaplin troubling Huddersfield in particular.

Town were then afforded a settler from an unexpected source in Schindler, who turned in just his second home goal and first since January, 2017 – at the back post as Barnsley watched.

Parity should have been restored immediately when lovely play involving Cauley Woodrow and Chaplin set up a chance on a silver platter for Cameron McGeehan, but his finish was wild and wayward and in keeping with his off-radar efforts of late.

The gravity of that miss was exposed when Town doubled their money early on in the second half.

Lewis O’Brien brushed aside Mads Andersen far too easily to find Grant, who was allowed to cut inside on his preferred right-foot before curling in a beauty.

With Jonathan Hogg winning the battle in midfield, Town were in good order and should have sealed it with a third from Kachunga, who fired over after Collins blocked Grant’s low shot, with the Reds undressed again.

Barnsley threw on Mallik Wilks and Luke Thomas and belatedly found confidence and they had a cause again when Brown fired home instinctively on the turn to set up a nervy finale for Town.

But there were no further twists. The sun was out by the end for Town – and they were out of the drop zone, while Barnsley were firmly in it.

Brown commented: “It was a great feeling to secure my first Championship goal and get us back in the game. But at the end of the day, we did not get that draw or win, so I am not very happy.

“It was not good enough. We seemed to start all right, but then go into our shells a little bit. And our defending was not good enough for either of the goals and we did not take our chances going forward either.

“If you get a clean sheet, you only need one goal to win a game. It is a massive thing and we need to work on that and cut out the silly mistakes.”

Huddersfield Town: Grabara; Simpson, Elphick, Schindler, Jaden Brown; Bacuna (Chalobah 67), Hogg; Kachunga, O’Brien, Grant; Campbell (Diakhaby 69). Unused substitutes: Schofield, Pritchard, Mounie, Stankovic, Hadergjonaj.

Barnsley: Collins; Sibbick, Andersen, Diaby; Cavare (Thomas 75), Dougall, McGeehan (Wilks 58), Mowatt, Jacob Brown; Chaplin, Woodrow. Unused substitutes: Walton, B Williams, Bahre, Oduor, Simoes.

Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).