Huddersfield consolidate top-six berth
Huddersfield took a massive step towards the Championship play-offs as they brought the Easter weekend to a close in the best possible fashion. The Terriers triumphed 2-0 at fellow promotion-chasers Middlesbrough on Monday with Naby Sarr’s goal just before half-time followed by a Jordan Rhodes strike on 60 minutes to ensure top honours for the visitors.
Town boss Carlos Corberan made three changes to his starting side, two of those enforced with Levi Colwill and Danny Ward missing out. Matty Pearson was also absent and Huddersfield suffered another injury mid-match with Sorba Thomas withdrawn at half-time; Corberan remains unsure on the availability of his key personnel ahead of Friday’s fixture.
Nevertheless, the Terriers chief was keen to focus on the positives from the Middlesbrough match. Speaking post-match, he said: “Our team worked really hard and really well. I think the strong mentality from our players, from our keeper to our striker, was massive and they gave us a deserved win. It’s always important to grow as a team. We’re doing that.”
Relegation looms for Barnsley
Barnsley boss Poya Asbaghi said the Tyles’ 2-0 home loss to fellow relegation battlers Peterborough on Easter Monday, which left the Reds 11 points off safety with four games to play, was the most disappointing result of his career. The defeat leaves the South Yorkshire side rock-bottom of the Championship with no realistic chance of survival.
Barnsley were the better side for much of the match with Domingos Quina hitting the crossbar early in the first half and Carlton Morris forcing a fine save from Peterborough goalkeeper David Cornell with a looping header. But once Posh went in front they frustrated the Tykes with the home side limited to half-chances as they chased a route back.
Speaking post-match, Asbaghi said: “I am sure we haven’t created as many chances in any game since I have been here as we did today. Then they scored from the few chances they had, and it’s really tough to handle. In the end football is about the result. They were calm in front of goal and we weren’t. It is the most disappointing result I have ever had.”
Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield and Barnsley have faced off 12 times in league action since the beginning of 2012/13 and the two teams have returned an equal W4-D4-L4 split. However, Barnsley boast a W3-D1-L0 record in the most recent four meetings, and historically the Tykes have posted a reasonable W4-D7-L7 from their past 18 away trips to Huddersfield.
Huddersfield 1.584/7 are the Championship’s big surprise package this season. Tipped by many as relegation candidates, Carlos Corberan’s troops are right in the mix for potential promotion. The Terriers have lost just seven of their 39 showdowns against sides outside of the top-two (W19-D13-L7) and have W12-D5-L1 when taking on teams in 15th and below.
Barnsley 6.205/1 head coach Poya Asbaghi insists the Tykes will continue to battle to preserve their Championship status, as long as survival is mathematically possible. But the Reds have won just once in nine (W1-D4-L4) and suffered 15 losses from 21 on their travels this term (W1-D5-L15). The rock-bottom outfit have also W0-D1-L9 away to top-half opposition.
Huddersfield’s outings favour a low-scoring approach with Carlos Corberan’s side returning rock-solid defensive numbers. No Championship club have kept more shutouts than the Terriers’ (19), and Town are unlikely to stray away from their tried-and-trusted approach on Friday night. Only 9/21 (43%) of the hosts’ home games have featured Over 2.5 Goals 1.9110/11.
Just three of Barnsley’s last 16 league dates have produced three goals or more, and with the Tykes struggling to create and convert away from Oakwell, Under 2.5 Goals 1.804/5 could again be on the cards. But with the Reds’ relegation all but confirmed, I’m more comfortably taking unders on a higher line in case the visitors do wave the white flag.
Therefore, backing Huddersfield to win and Under 4.5 Goals appeals at 1.758/11. Town have been experts in picking up positive results against the league’s lesser lights, and Barnsley’s record on the road leaves a lot to be desired.