IN what has proved a captivating Championship season for Yorkshire football – aside for poor Rotherham United, that is – the quest to be crowned as the county’s unofficial ‘derby kings’ has been similarly compelling.
It will probably come as no surprise that the margins between first and second place were wafer thin in the regular season, with pride of place going to Sheffield Wednesday, narrowly in front of Huddersfield Town on goal difference.
Granted, the Terriers have ultimately claimed the bigger prize after progressing past Wednesday in a tense two-legged play-off semi-final which ended 1-1 on aggregate, with David Wagner’s side booking a final berth on penalties – with their date of destiny arriving against Jaap Stam’s Reading at Wembley on Monday.
But in the 46-game season, the Owls edged out Town on goal difference in the head-to-head between Yorkshire’s sides, with both taking 16 points from eight matches.
Each won three home matches and lost just once and both claimed victory twice on their travels and also drew one and lost one on the road.
Wednesday’s goal tally of nine goals in eight outings was unexceptional, but their concession of just four goals was rather more impressive, with Carlos Carvahal’s side keeping five clean sheets in derby meetings.
It will come as no shock either that the Millers prop up the derby table, with their desperate season reflected in their grim White Rose statistics.Leon Wobschall
Leeds United trailed the top two by just a point, having amassed 15 points, with their goals for derby tally of 13 actually being the best of all our five second-tier clubs.
Their highpoints arrived with back-to-back wins over the Owls as Leeds sealed a double over their South Yorkshire rivals for the first occasion since 1999-2000.
The second highest goals total arrived from Barnsley, who found the net 12 times with their points tally of 11 seeing them finish in third place.
The Reds recorded the largest winning margin in any derby, after thrashing Rotherham United 4-0 in August at Oakwell, a ground where the Millers have now not won at since August, 1970.
It will come as no shock either that the Millers prop up the derby table, with their desperate season reflected in their grim White Rose statistics, which saw them lose all eight of their fixtures against county rivals and register a minus 14 goals difference in the process.
The Millers were involved in one of two top derbies of 2016-17, agonisingly being edged out 3-2 by Huddersfield, thanks to Tommy Smith’s stoppage-time strike at the AESSEAL New York Stadium – as Town produced the derby comeback of the year after trailing 2-1 with 19 minutes left of their Valentine’s Day fixture.
The second Yorkshire game of the season contender at second-tier level arrived at Oakwell on January 21 when three goals in nine minutes saw Barnsley come from behind in a 3-2 home win over Leeds, with Conor Hourihane netting a fine winner in his final game in a Reds jersey.
It was the last time Barnsley took three points on home soil.
Leeds were also involved in the most heated derby game of the season on February 5 when a late winner from Michael Hefele was the prelude to a ugly melee between players and a contretemps between rival coaches Wagner and Garry Monk, with both handed a fine and a touchline ban.
The win helped Town record a first double over Leeds since 2008-09, while they finished above their neighbours in the table for the first time since 1961-62.