JOHN SMITH’S TOASTS SAFETY

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - To comment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/ By Steven Chicken

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

HUGS ALL ROUND: Ja­son Scot­land cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter scor­ing the sec­ond goal for Barns­ley (inset)

HERO: Barns­ley man­ager David Fl­itcroft

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