Analysis of Barnsley's 2-1 loss at Huddersfield which confirmed relegation to League One. Barnsley, who needed to win to avoid relegation last night, were 2-0 down at half-time before Callum Styles replied deep in injury-time.
NOTHING PERFORMANCE CAPS MISERABLE SEASON
Any casual channel-hopper who happened upon this game on television could be forgiven for thinking the two sides had nothing to play for this season.
That is not to criticise Huddersfield who got their job done, qualifying for a play-off place few would have predicted for them this season - taking the early lead then coasting and barely having to get out of first gear.
But you would never have known that this Barnsley team were trying to win to at least avoid the humiliation of being relegated on television in a local derby.
You certainly would not have realised that they had promised to ‘fight’ for some professional pride and for their fans.
it has been a pathetic season from top to bottom. It starts with Paul Conway and his disastrous stint as CEO but both head coaches have looked out of depth at times, while the majority of players have regressed.
This was such a tame way to slink out of the Championship, with relegation finally confirmed, but in keeping with a miserable season in which the Reds have never truly looked like competing at this level.
The match had the flat atmosphere of a pre-season friendly, with the Reds lacking energy, urgency or desire in their attacking play.
Teams are often an extension of their manager and, although Poya Asbaghi is far from the main culprit in this scandalously rubbish season, he is not the inspirational, firefighter head coach the players and fans needed in emergency circumstances.
This was a nothing performance from the visitors.
When you look at the individual attackers who started for Barnsley, they should have the quality to threaten at this level but they are drained of confidence and lacking any sort of coherent structure strategy or support from the team as whole.
Amine Bassi had a shot from the left of the box easily saved at 1-0 then Romal Palmer and Cauley Woodrow shot off-target from outside the box midway through the second half. That - with their Championship status and pride at stake - was all Barnsley offered until Callum Styles’ consolation strike right at the end.
Not good enough.
They were a broken, beaten and clueless side even before they conceded in the fourth minute which effectively ended the match as a contest as we have seen that this Reds team cannot come from behind.
SISTER CLUB NANCY ALSO DOWN AFTER SMOKEBOMBS STOP PLAY
Two clubs owned by Paul Conway and Chien Lee were relegated last night.
AS Nancy were 3-0 down home at home in a game they needed to win to have a chance of survival when fans threw smoke bombs onto the pitch and it was called off. The French club confirmed they had been demoted to the third tier, like their ‘sister club’ Barnsley.
The group’s Danish club Esbjerg are also in danger of dropping into their third tier, amid reports of interference in team selection, while there have been complaints by fans of their Dutch club Den Bosch.
As for Barnsley, the 575 fans at Huddersfield watched grimly on.
‘Barnsley get battered everywhere they go’ sang the jubilant home fans, and many of the Reds diehards who made the trip to watch almost certain relegation appeared to join in - while also singing uncomplimentary songs about their side.
Some stayed at the end to clap off players who, by and large, underperformed that night and all season.
73-POINT SWING SINCE LAST SEASON
This was a bitterly ironic venue for Barnsley to be relegated at.
It is nine years since their famous 2-2 draw at Huddersfield which kept them and the Terriers in the Championship on a dramatic final day.
Any fond memories of the John Smith’s Stadium because of that famous Yorkshire ‘Anschluss’ may now be tainted by this.
In 2013, it took 55 points to stay up. This season it is likely to be at least ten fewer and the Reds are still set to be adrift by double figures.
It is one year, almost to the day, since Barnsley won 1-0 at Huddersfield to go six points clear in the play-off places – with a top six place made sure the following weekend - while their hosts were 20th and not sure of safety with three games to play.
The Reds were 27 points ahead of their neighbours at that point but are now 46 behind - an astonishing 73-point swing.
Last time they had Michael Sollbauer with a man of the match performance at centre-back, a dominant central midfielder Alex Mowatt who caused chaos from set pieces and an in-form striker Daryl Dike who won it with an overhead kick. All those players left in the next few months and have never really been replaced, with Sollbauer not a regular in the 11 but certainly an important leader.
REDS WARNED ABOUT SET PIECES THEN CONCEDE FROM 4TH-MINUTE CORNER
Asbaghi had warned pre-match about Huddersfield’s set pieces threat, then the Reds conceded from a fourth-minute corner.
Since Michal Helik’s injury, the Reds have been very vulnerable from set pieces - conceding also Millwall and Peterborough.
Those are the absolute basics of Championship football and to be weak in that area is a classic symptom of a side lacking organisation, leadership and belief.
The second goal saw another cross, this time from open play, from the right to the far post where Harry Toffolo fired home from close range. Toffolo had terrorised Callum Brittain all game but it was the equally disappointing Domingos Quina who did not track him and was at fault.
EX-RED RHODES OFFICIALLY SENDS THEM DOWN
The first scorer Jordan Rhodes was an academy player at Barnsley from 2003 to 2005 before following his goalkeeper coach father Andy to Ipswich Town, where he began at career that has seen him net 118 Championship goals – seven against Barnsley.
He joins Derby’s Matej Vydra in 2018, Middlesbrough’s Danny Graham in 2014, Norwich’s David Nielsen in 2002 and Theo Zagorakis of Leicester in 1998 on the list of players who have scored goals to relegate Barnsley in the last 50 years.
A right-wing corner by Danel Sinani hit Mads Andersen’s knees before floating across the face of goal and being headed in by Jordan Rhodes two yards out.
The linesman initially ruled it out for offside, presumably thinking it had hit a home player, but the referee overruled him and gives the goal.