JOHN SMITH’S TOASTS SAFETY
BARNSLEY boss David Flitcroft claimed his side had accomplished mission impossible after an incredible final day that saw both Huddersfield and Barnsley avoid relegation.
A near-capacity crowd at the John Smith’s Stadium made for a brilliant spectacle in the relegation battle’s most pivotal match, and you could scarcely have scripted a more remarkable final day for these two clubs.
Huddersfield’s task was straightforward: avoid defeat to avoid relegation.
Barnsley knew they were guaranteed safety from relegation with a win, but a point would only be enough to save them if Peterborough were to lose at Crystal Palace – and on an up-and-down day, that’s exactly what happened.
Caretaker manager Flitcroft said: “We’ve not got lucky in the last minute.We designed that from day one and we’ve beaten some incredible football teams.
“Mission impossible can only be achieved by special people. Forget the football, the quality, the disparity in this league: what we’ve achieved there is by a special group of a people. I didn’t trust anyone to step up with me for the interim period and I brought in Mickey Mellon and Martin Scott. And they drove me on.”
Flitcroft has not yet been offered the manager’s seat at Barnsley for next season, but hopes to iron things out over the coming days.
He added: “I’ve not had a good constructive chat with the board and the owners because genuinely, I wanted to focus on this. That’s gone now and I want a bright future for Barnsley Football Club.”
Barnsley started well and got the goal their play deserved after 14 minutes. Chris O’Grady capitalised on Peter Clarke’s slip to race onto Tom Kennedy’s through ball and find the bottom corner.
Mark Robins sent on winger Danny Ward for the second half and he slalomed through the visitors’ defence on 54 minutes before playing in Jermaine Beckford to dink a delicate equaliser over Steele.
Barnsley restored their lead on 75 minutes, with substitute Jason Scotland converting David Perkins’ cross from point-blank range.
But another super-sub rescued Huddersfield, with Lee Novak’s first touch setting up Vaughan for a goal that plunged Barnsley back into the relegation zone with just eight minutes remaining.
Then, in the second minute of injury time, word filtered through that Crystal Palace had come from behind to lead Peterborough.
Flitcroft had been urging his men forward all game, but was suddenly screaming from the touchline for his charges to get back and defend the point – Steele seeing out the final three minutes unchallenged in the Barnsley box.
Huddersfield manager Robins, a former Barnsley boss, said:“It was the hardest 90 minutes I’ve had to endure, without a doubt. It was always going to be difficult and it was a poor first half for us. They put us under a lot of pressure and managed to get their noses in front.
“But then for me that changed the psychology of it because they’ve got something to hang on to then and expect us to have a go back.
“We were a million miles from our best but we got what we needed and the game really doesn’t matter.”
HUGS ALL ROUND: Jason Scotland celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal for Barnsley (inset)
HERO: Barnsley manager David Flitcroft