Yorkshire rivals Barnsley and Huddersfield both finished the season with their npower Championship status intact after playing out a pulsating last-day derby draw at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Huddersfield striker James Vaughan appeared to have condemned Barnsley to League One when he fired home an 82nd-minute equaliser, but when news filtered through that Crystal Palace had scored to lead 3-2 against relegation rivals Peterborough, it appeared as though both sets of players agreed to ensure the staus quo and played out the last few minutes without further incident.
The draw ensured both sides stayed up at Peterborough’s expense and ensured an extraordinary Championship roller-coaster ride had finally come to an end.
Chris O’Grady fired Barnsley into a first-half lead and after Jermaine Beckford had levelled for Huddersfield early in the second half, Tykes substitute Jason Scotland looked to have rescued his side’s season when heading home their second in the 75th minute.
Vaughan snatched a second equaliser for Huddersfield to stun the travelling hordes, but when word spread that Palace had scored an 89th-minute winner, the John Smith’s Stadium erupted into a Yorkshire celebration with both sets of fans in raptures.
Beckford returned to partner Vaughan up front for Huddersfield, while Barnsley’s Stephen Dawson was back in midfield following suspension.
The visitors dominated early possession and looked the more assured side, so it was no surprise when O’Grady gave them the lead in the 14th minute.
Town defender Peter Clarke slipped when Barnsley midfielder David Perkins played the ball into the penalty area and O’Grady had time enough to pick his spot and curl a low right-footed shot inside the far post.
Huddersfield began to get a foothold in the game soon after, but had to wait until the 39th minute before their first clear effort on goal.
Vaughan pounced on Barnsley defender Martin Cranie’s mis-timed headed clearance and flashed a low angled drive just wide from the left edge of the area.
Home defender Anthony Gerrard headed Oliver Norwood’s assist wide soon after, but it was the sold-out away end that was cheering at the interval.
Huddersfield winger Danny Ward and midfielder Keith Southern replaced Norwood and Oscar Gobern at half-time.
Ward almost made an instant impact, charging on to Vaughan’s lay-off into the area and shooting low, straight at Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele.
Ward then set up the 53rd-minute equaliser, winning his tackle and slipping the ball through for Beckford, who clipped a fine finish inside Steele’s left-hand post.
Barnsley almost regained the lead moments later when Chris Dagnall’s goalbound shot was turned away at full stretch by Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies.
Smithies then kept out Dawson’s left-footed drive with another terrific save and Clarke’s last-ditch tackle thwarted Jacob Mellis as Barnsley went in search of a second goal.
Perkins’ shot was gathered by Smithies shortly after Tykes substitutes Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Jason Scotland had replaced Mellis and Dagnall.
Scotland then headed Barnsley back in front in the 75th minute.
O’Grady’s deft pass sent Perkins clear down the left and his precision cross was nodded home by the former Ipswich striker to send the travelling visiting fans into raptures.
But their joy was short-lived. Town substitute Lee Novak had been on the pitch for only a few seconds when his pass set up Vaughan, whose low finish flew in via a deflection off Steele in the 82nd minute.
Reds midfielder Tomasz Cywka was sent on for Dawson with five minutes left as Barnsley scrambled for one last finale.
Scotland just failed to connect when poised to turn the ball home and Cywka fired straight at Smithies, but with news of Palace’s late goal sending Peterborough down, both sets of players played out the last few minutes without further incident.