Barnsley took a huge step towards securing their place in the Championship’s play-offs this evening, as Daryl Dike’s second-half goal was enough for a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield Town.
Valerien Ismael had initially rested his powerful American striker, but Dike stepped off the bench to win Barnsley the game with his ninth goal for the Tykes.
Reading’s draw with Luton Town across the Championship leaves Barnsley six points clear of the chasing-pack in sixth, with Ismael now purring at the thought of challenging for a place in the Premier League.
It's hard to not be impressed by the impact Dike is having. It's hard to not be impressed by the impact Ismael is having. It's hard not to be impressed by the impact #barnsleyfc are having on the Championship.
— AGB (@BurnsAlfie) April 21, 2021
Ismael’s side have a lot on the line and tonight felt like a big night in the race for the top-six. They were out a good seven minutes before kick-off, knocking balls about amongst themselves waiting for their opponents.
The Tykes benefitted from that with a fast start. Callum Brittain was heavily involved from the right, whilst Cauley Woodrow was picking up clever pockets along the frontline.
Alex Mowatt saw an early pop at goal blocked, whilst Woodrow whizzed a ball wide after benefitting from no offside flag. The game’s controversial decision came inside a minute, though, with Brittain’s cross striking Rarmani Edmonds-Green on the hand and referee, David Webb, waving away appeals for a penalty.
Yaya Sanogo spurned a half-chance at the other end early on, but Huddersfield were struggling to build off their towering striker.
As the game ticked towards 25 minutes both sides traded chances. Michael Sollbauer recovered well to block Josh Koroma’s shot, whilst Dominik Frieser could only stab his effort at Ryan Schofield.
Woodrow was providing plenty of threat for Barnsley and tested Schofield’s glove work again with a shot from the edge of the penalty area. Alex Mowatt then had the Huddersfield goalkeeper scrambling with a clever free-kick, his effort, though, was the wrong side of the post.
Carlos Corberan’s side were hanging in, but struggling to match the pace and intensity Barnsley were looking to play with.
Koroma was a willing runner in-behind throughout the first-half, although Huddersfield struggled to create anything substantial for him to feed off in terms of chances upon his return to the side.
He would have killed for the chance Barnsley created for Mowatt on the stroke of half-time, but the usually composed midfielder was wayward with his shot, as Ismael called for Dike to replace the injured Frieser.
Dike’s first involvement after the break was to close down a clearance and then put Schofield under pressure, as Barnsley picked up where they left off, but now led by their talismanic loan signing.
Mowatt was aware enough to zip a pass into Woodrow’s feet on 50 minutes, with the Barnsley forward unleashing a shot on Schofield’s goal that was well blocked by Naby Sarr.
Schofield was equal to Carlton Morris’ stooping header, with Ismael rallying Barnsley as they looked to turn the screw on their Yorkshire rivals.
A deflection took the sting out of Mowatt’s long-range strike to make things easy for Schofield, but the Terriers were struggling to blunt Barnsley heading into the hour and were having to work hard to retain parity.
And, on 65 minutes, pressure told on the Huddersfield defence.
Morris drove at the right of Huddersfield’s back-three, with his cross popping up perfectly for Dike to bury an overhead kick into the bottom corner of Schofield’s goal.
The addition of Dike to the attack at the end of the first-half had added another dimension to Barnsley’s all-round play, allowing Morris and Woodrow to buzz around a focal point. At the other end, Ismael’s defence put bodies on the line, blocking Danny Ward’s shot.
It was almost double delight for Barnsley on 76 minutes, but Sarr covered well to clear Morris’ header off the line and Michal Helik struck the woodwork in the next phase of play.
Lewis O’Brien mustered up Huddersfield’s first shot on target on 80 minutes, but he lashed Sorba Thomas’ cross straight at Brad Collins.
Callum Styles, Sollbauer and Dike went close to securing Barnsley the points with a rally on the Huddersfield goal five minutes from time; Corberan’s side hung in and kept themselves in the game until the death, desperate for another point towards their fight for survival.
Ultimately, though, the need for points within the Barnsley camp was greater, with Ismael and Dike keeping the dream alive at Oakwell.
FT: Huddersfield Town 0-1 Barnsley.