Barnsley match report: Huddersfield 2 Barnsley 2

Huddersfield Town v Barnsley'Barnsley players and supporters celebrate after retaining their place in the Championship'Barnsley players give manager David Flitcroft the bumps at the end of the game
Huddersfield Town v Barnsley'Barnsley players and supporters celebrate after retaining their place in the Championship'Barnsley players give manager David Flitcroft the bumps at the end of the game

What an incredible afternoon. Barnsley secured their Championship status with an heroic effort after the most dramatic of final-day outcomes.

There were so many permutations for survival and relegation, but nobody could have imagined Reds keeper Luke Steele given orders to keep the ball – under no pressure – as both sides let the clock tick down at the death.

The Reds were up, they were down, they were up, they were down, but in the end both Yorkshire clubs survived as Peterborough’s last-minute defeat at Crystal Palace saw them demoted to League One.

And that was after some crazy stoppage-time scenes - the likes of which are very rarely witnessed in the game.

Once word had been conveyed that Posh were indeed behind, both sets of players stopped playing.

There were only two minutes of added time left, but both sets players began to embrace one another, one or two even sat down, and after plenty of inactivity and rejoicing in the stands referee Andre Marriner blew for full-time and the race to beat the pitch invasion was on.

Emotions were high after the game, particularly so for Reds boss Dave Flitcroft who has overseen a quite remarkable turnaround in fortunes since he took over the managerial reigns.

The Reds were rooted to the bottom of the table back then, but Flitcroft has galvanised the club and his just reward, as well as the players’, was for the most memorable of efforts in the face of adversity.

“That’s mission impossible achieved,” said Flitcroft. “We haven’t just got lucky though. We’ve designed it that way from day one.

“I can’t thank enough the special people I’ve got around me at this club.

“That’s players, the management team and everyone who has put such a heroic effort together over these past few months.

“The sun has smiled on us, this has been an incredible achievement - quite remarkable in fact.

“The players have shown an insatiable appetite to stay in this division.

“There were plenty of doubters around after the [6-0] defeat by Charlton, but we’ve stood up to be counted ever since that day and now we’ve got another Championship season to look forward to.

“The spirit is there to do well next season, but there’s a lot of work to do and structures to put in place, and when we do that the possibilities are endless.”

An amazing day began with both managers making just the one change to their starting line-ups following respective victories seven days earlier, although both teams still had plenty to do on the last day of the campaign.

Midfielder Stephen Dawson returned to the Reds’ line-up following his three-match suspension, while former Barnsley boss Mark Robins recalled loan striker Jermaine Beckford to replace the injured Lee Novak.

The atmosphere was electric as the Reds fired themselves into a precious lead after just 14 minutes.

Pocket dynamo David Perkins played in Chris O’Grady,and, thanks to a slip from Terriers’skipper Peter Clarke, the Sheffield Wednesday loan striker had time to curl a superb effort past goalkeeper Alex Smithies.

It was a dream start for the Reds, a lead which they held on to relatively comfortably until half-time despite a handful of chances for the hosts.

James Vaughan flashed an effort inches wide and Anthony Gerrard planted a powerful header narrowly over the top, but Reds’ keeper Luke Steele was otherwise untroubled and prospects looked encouraging by the halfway point.

However, the Terriers terrorised the Reds in the opening 10 minutes of the second period.

Substitute Danny Ward, brought on at the break, was denied an equaliser after a fine save from Steele with his legs,

But the hosts made their early pressure count and leveled in the 54th minute.

Ward was the provider, angling in a pass to Beckford who steadied himself before lifting an exquisite shot over Steele and into the far corner.

The stadium erupted and then the fun really began.

Goals going in elsewhere meant the Reds were in and then out of the drop zone, but credit to the Reds’players - they responded brilliantly to being pegged back.

Chris Dagnall had a shot palmed away by Smithies, then the recalled Dawson side-stepped full-back Callum Woods and saw his goalbound shot beaten away to safety by the goalkeeper. The Reds were desperate for a goal with time running out to secure their Championship status as other results meant they were down.

And what they hoped would be the safety-clincher came in the 75th minute.

Jason Scotland got it. The former Ipswich Town hitman stooped to head home a pinpoint delivery from Perkins to delight the 4,000-strong travelling support.

But seven minutes later the pendulum swung the other way as the visitors equalised.

Sub Lee Novak teed up Vaughan and he smashed a sweet shot past Steele from 20 yards via a slight deflection off defender Martin Cranie.

That meant the tension was almost unbearable for Flitcroft and all concerned with the club.

With Peterborough locked at 2-2 at Selhurst Park it was they who were set to stay up at the Reds’ expense.

But then, now well into five minutes of stoppage time, the news emerged that Palace had scored again, leading to scenes of unbridled joy all around the stadium.

Both managers instructed their players to settle for a draw, a dangerous tactic given that Posh could have leveled in the dying seconds.

But that didn’t happen and the Reds made sure of an eighth successive stay in the English second tier.

A chant of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, we’re both staying up’ rang out around the stadium as both sets of fans rejoiced in survival.