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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
PA Huddersfield celebrate at the final whistle.
# championship matters
Huddersfield finally break down 10-man Derby to move into play-off spots
Elsewhere, super sub Uche Ikpeazu secured Cardiff success at struggling Barnsley.

TWO LATE GOALS handed Huddersfield a deserved 2-0 win against a Derby side who played for 87 minutes with 10 men.

The Terriers moved back into the Championship play-off places after finally breaking the Rams’ dogged resistance in the final 15 minutes through goals from Duane Holmes and Jordan Rhodes.

The Rams’ bid to continue their recent revival – they had lost just one of their previous seven games – was severely dented after only three minutes when former Terrier Richard Stearman was sent off.

The defender – signed from Huddersfield just last summer – dived in with a studs-up challenge on Lewis O’Brien just outside the Derby box and referee Matthew Donohue went straight to his top pocket.

Sorba Thomas fired the resultant free-kick inches wide via the slightest of deflections.

Danny Ward then guided an angled effort just off target as the hosts continued to seek swift punishment.

Rams boss Wayne Rooney was clearly in for a testing night now, and Huddersfield threatened again when ex-Derby midfielder Holmes forced Ryan Allsop into a decent save.

Holmes lashed a half-volley over the top and centre-back Tom Lees nodded just past the post, but by the half-hour mark there was still no breakthrough.

Gutsy Derby then went close themselves when Louie Sibley fizzed a low, angled strike just past the far post.

As the game wore on, the visitors were looking more comfortable when in possession, and that in turn led to a lull in Huddersfield’s forward momentum.

In the 40th minute the Terriers almost broke the deadlock, with Holmes this time guiding another close-range effort a whisker off target following a neat flick from O’Brien.

The Rams dug in until the interval, and then after the restart were probing for an opening.

So were Huddersfield, with manager Carlos Corberan bouncing around enthusiastically on the touchline, but it remained scoreless as the hour mark approached.

Both sets of fans were doing their best to rally their respective troops, and Sibley suddenly raced clear of the Huddersfield back line, but he took a heavy touch and goalkeeper Lee Nicholls was able to charge out and clear the danger.

With Derby packing their defence, the hosts appeared more and more frustrated, with Rooney’s battlers now eyeing a potentially precious point as the clock continued to tick.

With just 18 minutes left Huddersfield carved out a rare half-chance, only for O’Brien to drag a disappointing left-foot shot wide from 15 yards.

However, the hosts finally got the fortunate break they probably needed just three minutes later.

It was Holmes who struck, as his 20-yard shot following debutant substitute Carel Eiting’s pass flicked off Krystian Bielik before looping agonisingly over the outstretched arm of Allsop.

Four minutes later, Huddersfield’s victory was finally sealed when substitute Rhodes mopped up after Allsop could only parry Ward’s thunderous strike, leaving Derby seven points from safety.

huddersfield-town-v-derby-county-sky-bet-championship-the-john-smiths-stadium PA Wayne Rooney after the game, with Jason Knight in front. PA

Festy Ebosele and Jason Knight both played the full game for Derby, while Eiran Cashin was sprung from the bench on the hour-mark. 

In tonight’s only other Championship game, on-loan Cardiff substitute Uche Ikpeazu secured a 1-0 victory at bottom side Barnsley, just eight minutes into his debut for the Welsh club.

The 26-year-old striker has only mustered three goals in 22 outings for parent club Middlesbrough this term, but he became an instant hit with Bluebirds fans when he tucked away a 71st-minute chance in a game of few clear-cut opportunities.

At the other end of the pitch, meanwhile, Cardiff ended a woeful run of 27 games in all competitions without a clean sheet.

Liverpool might be a tougher prospect to keep out in the FA Cup on Sunday, however, than the Championship’s lowest marksmen Barnsley.

The hosts did have the first chance of the night when Liam Kitching’s searching ball into the box was only headed out as far as Josh Benson by Mark McGuinness and the home midfielder’s firm 15-yard volley was well held by Cardiff goalkeeper Alex Smithies.

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The visitors then lost skipper Sean Morrison to injury, while Tommy Doyle was wayward with two hopeful edge-of-the-box efforts either side of the quarter-hour mark.

The Tykes were posing a slightly greater first-half threat with Jordan Williams’ side-footed volley across the face of goal palmed behind by Smithies following Domingos Quina’s left-wing cross to the far post.

Devante Cole also blasted narrowly off target from the edge of the box and Kitching’s header flashed wide after he rose unchallenged to meet Callum Styles’ inswinging corner on the stroke of half-time.

barnsley-v-cardiff-city-sky-bet-championship-oakwell-stadium PA Uche Ikpeazu celebrates scoring. PA

A drab start to the second period saw home boss Poya Asbaghi make the first decisive move from the bench when he introduced Carlton Morris from the bench just past the hour and away chief Steve Morison immediately responded by throwing on Ikpeazu.

After Kitching had aimed high and wide from 15 yards with the first second-half attempt on goal of any description after 70 minutes, Ikpeazu then became an instant Bluebirds favourite from the next attack of the game.

The 6ft 3in striker used all of his brawn to brush off the attentions of Barnsley skipper Mads Andersen and latch on to a long ball forward, before scuffing a 10-yard shot into an onrushing Brad Collins’ bottom-right corner.

It was the Welsh side’s only on-target effort of the evening and Ikpeazu celebrated by jumping into the jubilant away end.

Will Vaulks went close to doubling the lead with a thumping 20-yard volley before stoppage-time drama saw home substitute Aaron Leya Iseka head wide from a Claudio Gomes free-kick and then fire in, only to be denied by an offside flag.

The result represented a fifth-straight league defeat for the hosts, while it saw Cardiff pull a little further away from the relegation zone.

Mark McGuinness lined out for Cardiff, with James Collins and Joel Bagan on the bench, while Barnsley held William Hondermarck in reserve.

BTL 5

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