The Reds are yet to win away from home this season but picked up a 2-2 draw at leaders West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, having been 2-0 up. They have the worst defensive record in the division with 25 goals conceded. Caretaker Adam Murray, who has overseen the draws with Swansea and West Brom, said: “Any win would be gratefully received. What the players are seeing is a little reward for the work they are putting in but a win would be tenfold of that. “We could make moves in the league as well which is another tick in the box. If we get a positive result it makes it a really, really good week.”
Barnsley are expected to take a large travelling contingent to the John Smith’s Stadium. Murray said: “I think it will be a fantastic atmosphere and a big occasion. Our fans showed on Tuesday what an incredible atmosphere they create. They will bring that driving force to Huddersfield and it’s important that the players do the same thing. Tuesday night was the highest numbers we have seen in the last two seasons in terms of physical output so the boys are really putting a shift in and we will need that on Saturday.”
After collecting just two points from their first nine league games this season, Town have picked up nine from their most recent five matches, in which they are unbeaten, and are third-bottom in the table, two points and two places above the Reds. They were relegated from the Premier League last season as they finished bottom, 20 points adrift, having won just one of their last 25 matches which brought 21 losses. The poor form continued into this season and, after collecting just a point from the first three matches, manager Jan Siewert was sacked.
The German – who had recruited Barnsley’s assistant coach Andreas Winkler in January before he left in the summer – had won just one of his 19 matches and lost 15. Caretaker Mark Hudson lost all three of his games in charge before the Terriers appointed former PE teacher Danny Cowley, who had taken Lincoln City up two divisions. He lost his first two games but a 1-1 draw with Millwall ended a six-match run of defeats before they won a bottom-two clash at Stoke City – their first win since February – and triumphed 3-0 at home to Hull City. That took them out of the relegation zone for the international break. Huddersfield drew 2-2 at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday then 0-0 at home to fellow strugglers Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
Murray said: “I went to the game on Wednesday and they are a typical Danny Cowley team – hard-working and organised. They are on a good run with momentum. I have watched every team in this league five or six times and they all have strengths and weaknesses. We know how we will go about the game. It will be a tough challenge but we’ll focus on ourselves. Our frame of mind is all about us at the moment. There will be a pressure from the fans because it’s a local derby. “It will be about who comes through the strongest mentally.”
Murray has known the Cowley brothers since their Concord Rangers team played his Mansfield Town side in the FA Cup in 2014. He said: “Danny asked for my scouting reports on them after the game and we have kept in touch ever since.”
Barnsley right-back Jordan Williams, who turned 20 on Tuesday, is from Huddersfield and came through their academy. He made just one EFL Cup appearance for them, aged 17 in 2017, then was loaned out to Bury before being sold to Barnsley last year. But he is unlikely to feature as he has not been in either of Murray’s squads so far. The Reds have won just one of their last eight league meetings with their West Yorkshire neighbours, a 2-1 home success under David Flitcroft in 2013 thanks to goals by Chris O’Grady and Marcus Pedersen.
Of their 31 league trips to Huddersfield, Barnsley have won just five with the last being a 2-0 success in September 2004 in which Barry Conlon and an own goal put the visitors in charge after 20 minutes. They also won at the John Smith’s Stadium in the 2006 League One play-off semi-final, with a 3-1 success overturning a 1-0 first leg deficit.
Their three visits since then brought a 2-2 draw on the final day of the 2012/13 season – which kept both sides in the Championship after they stopped playing for the final minutes – as well as defeats by scores of 5-0 and 2-1. The last meeting was a 1-1 draw at Oakwell in February 2017 with Marley Watkins equalising against the Premier League-bound Terriers.