I quite righty left his match report to stew in my mind for 48 hours, after what can only be described as a disastrous result on Saturday afternoon. For a team to twice in four days give away a two goal lead in the last 20 minutes, well it beggars belief.
But it started so well on Saturday. Simon Grayson chose to field Scott Arfield for the first time in his reign as Town boss in what was a 4-2-3-1 formation with Arfield playing just behind Jordan Rhodes. The biggest shock to the team was the return of Antony Kay in the centre of midfield for well over a year and after this game I would happily never see him play there EVER AGAIN.
Town started well and Bury were left defending for their lives early on as both Joey Gudjonsson and Antony Kay saw shots blocked from around 25 yards. Jamie McCombe also reminded Bury of our aerial presence from set pieces as he headed Danny Ward’s corner wide.
It would be a set piece that gave Town the lead as Ward’s in swinging corner was flicked on by Rhodes and as the Shakers failed to clear their lines Sean Morrison bundled the ball in from six yards. 20 minutes gone and we were cruising.
It was quite deserved too and instead of sitting back we were pushing on and it was no surprise five minutes later when Jordan Rhodes made it 2-0. Ward was again involved, cutting back on his right foot to deliver a well weighted ball from the left flank for Rhodes to nod home. That was Rhodes’ 31st of the season and took him up to eighth in the all-time goal scorers for Huddersfield Town. Alex Smithies also played a vital role in this goal, setting it up through a quick throw to start the counter-attack. This is something we have been missing with Ian Bennett in goal, although no disrespect towards Bennett who is a more than capable number two.
Just before the half hour mark Rhodes made it three as the shakers failed to deal with Gudjonsson’s through ball into Arfield and the ball found its way to Rhodes to lash into the top corner from 18 yards. Remarkably it was his 32nd goal of the season and Robin Van Persie is still playing catch up to him!
However, only a few minutes later Bury pulled one back when Steven Schumacher’s 35 yard free-kick took a wicked deflection and left Smithies without a hope in hell of saving it. This Bury did not deserve.
Jack Hunt somehow found himself in the book before half-time for what appeared to be a dive. However, he may have been booked for dissent but we shall never know! Town had a few more chances before the interval when Ward had a shot blocked and Lee Novak shot wide from 20 yards.
So we were cruising and it wasn’t surprise when Calum Woods came on for Hunt after the break, it seemed like the referee had it in for Hunt. The second half started as it was in the first half, Town were seemingly in control.
Danny Ward was again the key man forcing Trevor Carson into a few saves before he broke on the counter down Bury’s left wing and rattled the crossbar. Perhaps if he had squared the ball Novak may have scored but to point the finger at our best player for what was about to happen is ludicrous.
Twenty minutes left and just as Town fans were relaxing, we concede. David Amoo got down Town’s left and beat Scott Arfield and the ball fell to Lenell John-Lewis to miskick the ball home. No I’m not being bitter about this goal but if he had hit it cleanly Smithies would have been left with a comfortable save.
Now the pressures on and the fans are starting to fear the worse. Added to that two strange substitutions. Firstly Oscar Gobern replaced Danny Ward who was suffering from cramp. A strange one indeed as Gary Roberts was on the bench and then Lee Novak came off for Roberts with five minutes to go. Grayson had taken off our two main outlets and we were subsequently left playing the long ball up to Jordan Rhodes up top on his own.
The Bury pressure was also coming and instead of keeping a higher line we kept dropping deeper and deeper and were just inviting pressure. The warning signs were there just before the 90 minute mark when Andy Eastham headed wide and when into extra time the inevitable happened. An in swinging corner came in and Jordan Rhodes got a head to it but only failed to flick it to the back post where Andy Eastham was unmarked to smash it home leaving Smithies with no chance. All eleven men in the box defending and there is someone unmarked, disgraceful.
So to the conclusions. We seem to have a psychological problem where we are afraid to win games and punish team when we gain a two goal lead, the number of points dropped from winning positions is quite simply pathetic and needs to be ironed out as quickly as possible. Simon Grayson also needs to sort out the centre of midfield by wither bringing in someone on loan and by not playing Kay in their ever again. The centre midfield quite simply hasn’t contributed enough this season especially if you look at goals and assists.
Danny Ward was the shining light alongside Rhodes and Smithies distribution but I still believe we need another winger a Gary Roberts seems to have lost the ability to beat a man and without Ward we lack any form of outlet when hitting on the counter. Arfield or Higginbotham or the wing is a possibility but I’d much rather see someone brought in who has a knack for beating his man and delivering in a decent ball.
Tonight’s game against Hartlepool is huge, another bad result and we could end up in freefall. All I have to say is UP THE TOWN!