HUDDERSFIELD Town have produced better performances this season and been involved in feistier derbies down the years.
But on a day of drama elsewhere in the Championship, a straightforward win which put Simon Grayson’s side back into the play-off places was very palatable.
Superbly backed by 3,967 travelling fans in a 12,130 Oakwell crowd, Town took the lead against the run of play, but then protected it really well.
The visitors had looked a little susceptible before Jermaine Beckford bagged his third goal in six loan outings in the 36th minute.
But thereafter, Barnsley were prevented from mustering a genuine effort on target while Simon Church (twice), Lee Novak and Paul Dixon all stung the fingers of home keeper Luke Steele.
Welsh international Church, brought in on loan from Reading last Thursday, showed plenty of promise and supplied the cross from the left which was neatly headed home at the near post by fellow loanee Beckford.
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The Leicester man returned from a two-match absence because of a hamstring injury to make his mark and answer the taunts of the home fans in the best way.
Hopefully Grayson’s precautionary move of bringing him off on the hour because of some tightness in the affected leg will pay dividends, because there’s no doubting the danger Beckford poses to opponents.
He’s not just a very effective finisher, but also a hard worker who can boast pace, power and persistence among his qualities.
And while he may have lost frontline partner and thigh injury victim James Vaughan for the time being, Church looks more than capable of making his mark during an initial month with the John Smith’s Stadium club.
While a week on the training ground with his new teammates will be beneficial as Town prepare for Saturday’s home clash with Brighton, the 23-year slotted in neatly and lasted the full 90 minutes in what was only his second club game this season (unusually, there have been twice as many outings at international level).
Having started out on the right in a 4-4-2 formation, Grayson’s instruction to swap positions with frontman Novak paid immediate dividends as the new boy collected Sean Scannell’s pass to swing in a great delivery for Beckford to convert – Church service indeed!
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It would be remiss not to mention the ever-willing Novak, who having looked a touch leggy in the first half, came to life in second, and was only denied a third goal in two games by a fine save from Steele in the 62nd minute.
Beckford’s replacement Danny Ward played a key role in that move by pressurising Stephen Dawson into a mistake, and fellow substitute Alan Lee, just as against Blackburn last Tuesday, also played his part after coming off the bench, using his strength and experience to eat up time in the closing stages.
Town’s midfield is still not operating as smoothly as earlier in the season, but a fifth clean sheet of the campaign reflects the solidity of a defence well marshalled by skipper Peter Clarke and including right-back Jack Hunt, who returned after his two-match ban.
Over on the left, Dixon caught the eye and could have claimed his first Town goal with a stinging late shot.