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Sunday, 8 April 2012


I think today is the day that we can accept those home truths;

  • We're an average team
  • Sacking Clark seems like the WRONG decision
  • We'll be in the play-offs, with probably little or no expectations
  • If we don't go up via the play-offs we'll lose Rhodes
  • Alan Lee is terrible
All of these facts hit me with a horrible suddenness when Nile Ranger bumbled past Tom Clarke and swept the ball past the onrushing Alex Smithies. I put the question out there yesterday on Twitter, when was the last time you saw Town play that badly? I know there'll be those of you thinking Oldham away, Rochdale away, Peterborough away etc, but in a big derby match I haven't seen Town flounder like that in a long time. This blog entry will go over a few things, the match itself, Simon Grayson, and the play-offs, so i'll start at the beginning with the match that was.

Sheffield Wednesday

The Town team read like this;
 Clarke              Clarke          Morrison       Woods
            Ward               Kay            Arismendi
          Novak               Lee             Rhodes

The line-up looked a particularly attacking line-up, if not leaving us a little lightweight in the centre of midfield. To compensate for this Novak dropped into the position of a defensive winger at times, he chased the ball down, harried defenders and worked hard. His affect however was minimal, he can't cross a ball and doesn't possess the trickery or pace to beat a full-back; therefore putting Novak in this position completely nullified his attacking threat. Danny Ward had potentially one of the worst games I have seen him have in a Town shirt, his crosses and free-kicks rarely beat the first man, and only met a Town player by sheer luck. His first touch was horrendous, on too many occasions he merely touched the ball ahead of himself and forgot to run. Recalling the match between these two at the Galpharm from last season completely highlights the difference between Pilkington and the man brought in to replace him. Ward can have good games, and good spells in matches and he can even hit the occasional screamer; but he cannot influence a match in anywhere near the same way as Pilkington could. Alan Lee continues to baffle me, his first season yielded zero goals in 28 league games.....for a striker, FOR A STRIKER!!!! Then this season he has amazed everyone and scored 7 goals, bringing his total to 7 in 51 league games. Yesterday he looked like someone who had won a competition to play with his heroes, as he bumbled into their centre-backs and on one occasion, fell over the ball. This left Jordan Rhodes relying on the supply from Lee, who could barely stand up, Novak who couldn't cross a ball, and Ward who couldn't control the ball, the outcome was barely surprising. On reflection of the game itself, I think the tone was set fairly early on, Wednesday looked very dangerous when they ventured into our half and our defence looked like headless chickens when they were trying to deal with them. Madine forced a good save from Smithies in the first 10 minutes, but from then on the half descended into a bit of a battle. We looked like gaining the upper-hand midway through the first-half when a string of Novaks attempted crosses hit the first man and went for corners. From these corners our centre-backs came perilously close to connecting but didn't, leading to plenty of 'oooohs' and 'ahhhhs' around the ground. Then came the moment of the first-half, excellent play by Rhodes led to Ward bearing down on the Wednesday area, he made space for himself and blasted narrowly wide. This was our best moment of the half, and brightened up a pretty dull 45 minutes of football. In the second-half it seems that Dave Jones had noticed our lack of numbers in the middle of the park, and informed his players to exploit it after the restart, and they duly did. Wednesday came out looking like a completely different team, as Arismendi tired and Kay missed tackle after tackle the Wednesday midfield ran through us with ease. The free-kick leading to the goal was debatable, and highlighted another decision from the referee that came under scrutiny in a pretty poor display of officiating. The goal felt pretty inevitable, Llera had his sighter in the first-half, and if a centre-back is going to take a free-kick you know he must be pretty bloody good. So he lifted it over the wall and placed it in the bottom corner, Smithies' positioning may have been questionable but I don't think we can have any complaints about the finish. After Wednesday scored we completely imploded, blunt, boring repetitive attack after attack followed, interjected by cutting and incisive Wednesday break-aways. However hilarious it was when Ranger hit the cross-bar and Antonio blazed over, it should be noted that this was an example of amateur defending. Minutes or so later Tom Clarke tried what can be only explained as a stupid ball, (it also beggars belief that the RB was trying to spray balls around the park from the centre of the pitch) Nile Ranger broke away, Tom Clarke feebly tried to take him down to no avail and the Wednesday man scored, ending the game. The rest of the match passed by and as I heard one Wednesday fan remark, our desperation was shown when we threw on Cadamarteri. Wednesday could and should have won by more in the end, and now they enter into an exciting showdown for second with their city neighbours. After yesterdays performance and their recent form I would definitely back them to pip United to second. As for us, it's play-offs and after that performance I wouldn't expect us to progress past the semi-finals. The lack of fight, organisation and skill from Town yesterday was almost as embarassing as the string of deserting fans been greeted to a chorus of 'IS THERE A FIRE DRILL?" by the away fans.

Simon Grayson

A lot of abuse has been aimed at him over recent weeks, notably after the two recent defeats and after the two horrendous disasters that were Stevenage and Bury; but I certainly don't think this abuse has been fair. He was instated as Huddersfield manager in late February, and has had the chance to make only one addition to the squad. On top of this he has had the pressure inadvertently placed on him by Dean Hoyle to gain automatic promotion, the stigma of being a Leeds man and the crazy boasts by Lee Clark about the certainty of promotion for the Terriers. He has performed certainly no better than you would have expected Lee Clark to do, and perhaps worse. The problem with Simon Grayson for me is that he was given the job at the wrong time, had Clark being dismissed in early January then it would have been perfect for a new man to come in and immediately stamp his authority on the squad. This however was not the case, Clark was allowed to bring in more players and because of this he should have been given to the end of the season, with perhaps the exception of getting Warnock in. I know that Dean Hoyle certainly tried to get in Warnock, but perhaps he could have tried harder. It's common place now for chairmen to consult other managers and test the water before they have dispatched the current manager; Dean Hoyle should have done this with Warnock, and if he wasn't interested he should have kept his faith in Clark. As it is we find ourselves in a position that would have been the least we expected from Lee Clark, and our future lies on the fate of the play-offs. If we go up via Wembley then sacking Clark will have proved to be the right decision by Hoyle, but it is a very big if.

The Play-Offs

It looks as if we'll be playing MK Dons in the semi-finals of the play-offs, a fixture which we have been very successful in over the last few seasons. A return to Clark's 4-5-1 formation would likely see us prosper in this semi-final as it has certainly done us well against the Dons in recent seasons. If we overcome the challenge of Milton Keynes, it would most likely be a trip to Wembley to face one of the Sheffield clubs, or perhaps one of the play-off gatecrashers (Carlisle, Brentford or Notts County). If it is the latter we will be facing a team high on confidence, and most definitely in form. If it is the former we will be facing a wounded team, hopefully still reeling from the race for second place. However if recent form suggests against the Sheffield clubs, then we will be hard pushed to emerge with a victory. I have slightly more faith in Grayson in the play-offs than Lee Clark, however on yesterdays showing I think this Huddersfield Town team will be very lucky indeed to be playing Championship football next season. Of course I hope we will go up, and I shall be at the play-off games, and I desperately pray that we can fulfill our potential and make it third time lucky, but all logic and common sense tells me we won't.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Smithies Dilemma and Leyton Orient

Good afternoon my fellow Town fans, on an afternoon where we stand 8 points behind second spot and look hopelessly destined for the play-offs, ahhh the play-offs.... In this blog I'll be rambling about Carlisle at the weekend, Smithies and his Teflon gloves, and our likely fate this season.


No-one could have envisaged an easy trip to Brunton park with the cumbrians returning home fresh from 4 well-earned  points on the road at Colchester and MK Dons respectively. However, the way the season has gone and the position we were in, I thought it was pretty much sh*t or bust, especially considering both Sheffield clubs won. When I heard we'd pulled back to 1-1 on the radio I was delighted, but still aware that a draw wasn't ideal; we needed a win, at this stage of the season wins are what count, not draws. However we couldn't hold on for our favoured result and we ended up losing; in bizarre fashion. A short free-kick was attempted, Novak cleared the ball up field and it returned into the Town half from high in the sky accompanied by a fresh slice of snow. The ball sailed over the back four, evaded our hapless and hopelessly incompetent 'keeper, bounced of the top of their strikers bonce and ended up in our net. Now, I could be describing a goal scored at Lindley rec, Netherton rec, Hackney marshes, in fact any amateur Sunday league venue across the country. Instead I'm describing a goal conceded by our team, a group of players paid a considerable amount of money to kick a football; yet they conceded an amateur goal.
I have grown very tired of watching this team defend like amateurs over the course of this season, anyone who cares to disagree need only look at all four of the goals conceded at Hillsborough for a more perfect example. How are these players paid? How has Dean Hoyle not walked into the dressing room and kicked them in the head? On the wee bit of a form that says 'Occupation' do they write 'footballer' or are they more honest and write 'impressionist'? ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH
So that was that, and we lost to Carlisle, and in the wave of depression that was engulfing me I had to take several looks at the league table to remind myself that we are in fact fourth, and second spot is still (very remotely) in touch.

Leyton Orient

Tonight's game against Leyton Orient seems relatively straight-forward, as the O's are far from the force that they were last season; narrowly missing out on the play-offs and holding Arsenal to a draw. However the O's are capable of pulling off dazzling performances, and have done so this season; their main problem has been inconsistency and a poor start. The hosts are 5 points above the drop zone and could go some way to retaining their league one status tonight with a victory. To beat them we'll need to perform proffesionally, efficiently and put in a good defensive performance. There is no doubt of the quality in the Orient team as we have seen numerous times over the past few seasons, especially at home, but this is a game we should be winning if we are to meet our goals this season. It will be a tough game, but one I expect three points in; if we don't return with all three points then we may as well start printing play-off tickets.

Alex Smithies

There's been a lot of talk on twitter and DATM recently about whether or not to keep Alex Smithies in the starting line-up, or replace him with Ian Bennett. Now I'm of the opinion that both of them are excellent goalkeepers at this level, with different skill sets. Alex Smithies can pull off miraculous saves, shots that seem destined for the goal can be clawed back by the young 'stopper. Ian Bennet imbues upon the team a placid calmness and never seems flustered, making everything look effortless. Due to Bennetts age there are of course times when a shot will evade him, which Smithies may have saved, however I think all in all Bennett is of more benefit to the team than Smithies. For the last 7 games we are going to have to play very well, and there will be no room for passengers. Smithies mistake at Colchester arguably cost us two points, and his cock-up at the weekend cost us another two; so for the rest of the season I think we need to have Bennett in between the sticks.

The run-in

Never have I found myself at this stage of the season, supporting a team in the play-off positions filled with so little confidence and expectation. Perhaps it's the result of previous play-off campaigns tarnishing my belief, a lack of faith in the management or the schizophrenic nature of our performances. Either way, I sit here writing this part of the blog, focusing on the run-in without the slightest scrap of hope, or even the temptation to deface this blog with 'BELIEVE'. We're eight points behind second spot Sheffield United, who have shown themselves to be nowhere near as formidable as last-seasons rivals Southampton. We have a very winnable game in-hand this evening against Leyton Orient, and a ix pointer against the Owls on Saturday. This time next week we could be two points of the automatic places, but for us to clinch that place I firmly believe we'll have to win all of our remaining games. That means winning seven games in a row, resisting the temptation to to hand out points to the opposition, and getting of our backsides and playing with heart and spirit for the next seven games running. After everything we've seen this season I think that looks highly improbable, and that the play-offs once again will decide our destiny. If we continue in a similar vein of form, it's likely we'll have to face MK Dons, and then possibly Sheffield Wednesday in the final (led by serial play-offs victim Dave Jones). Strangely enough if this were the case, I would find myself missing Mr Clark somewhat, who over past seasons has held a taboo card over MK Dons, and certainly knew how to beat them. The 3-1 victory down at their place last season highlighting for me a real triumph of tactics. I don't have a clue how Grayson will fair for us in the play-offs, but seen as though there has been no great upturn in fortunes since Clarks departure, I suspect it would be no different than under Clark...
In summary, for the rest of the season we COULD win our remaining games, we COULD grab second, we COULD fulfill our potential, but I think it's much more likely we'll be in the play-offs...

I remain unconvinced and downbeat, until next time!


Friday, 30 March 2012

Guest Blog: Charlton revisited and Carlisle by Ash Thompson

The Galpharm always comes alive when top of the league comes to town and the visit of Charlton Athletic was no exception. I will not give a blow by blow account of the game, but all I can say is WHY DO TOWN ALWAYS DO THIS TO ME?! 
 8 games left and after that defensive display, they give us a glimmer of confidence that they are the best team in League 1. On Saturday we proved that we CAN be a solid defensive unit. Hunt was his usual solid self, Clarke put his body on the line as usual. Sean Morrison was an absolute revelation and fully deserved his MOTM award. Dealt with the aerial threat of Hayes well. One other name worth a mention is Diego Arismendi. A very impressive debut in my eyes. He did the simple things well, was tidy on the ball, and most of all, gave Roberts and Ward the ball to attack down the wings. Overall it was a very professional performance against a good side. If we can perform like that we will finish 2nd, no doubt.
 A quick mention of Simon Grayson's start to his reign now. Unbeaten yes, but ask a certain Lee Clark what that stands for! The first game I saw was the Rochdale and I think he will be the first to admit that he got it wrong. However, a decent win away to Chesterfield, a crazy game away at Colchester and now a win vs Charlton seems to me like he is getting used to the Bluer and Better side of West Yorkshire.
 On to this weekends fixture and a trip to the notoriously tricky Carlisle United. One of the form teams in the league at this point and it's fair to say that they will not fear Towns visit. They are currently in 6th place and look a pretty good bet that they will be there come the end of the season. They got a very handy 2-1 win away at MK Dons last weekend and will be a tough nut to crack thanks to their imperious home form. Currently 15 games unbeaten at Brunton Park which is a decent record by anyones standards. Another fact worth mentioning (especially with our record of throwing leads away) is that Carlisle have won 24 points from losing positions this season. I think we can go up there and win, but it will take a hell of an effort. Elsewhere, I fully expect Wednesday to pick up 3 points at home to preston. United face a potential banana skin in an away trip to Hartlepool. We can only hope that Jeff Stellings beloved Pool can turn them over but I wouldn't be surprised to see both Sheffield clubs pick up 3 points.
 On Tuesday we travel to the capital to face Leyton Orient for our game in hand. Brisbane Road is never a nice place to go and we've had our fair share of poor results there over the seasons. However, they are currently in very shabby form themselves are sliding slowly towards the dreaded dotted line. 
 Let's finish on a bright note and say that we could be in the automatic promotion places on Wednesday morning!

Follow Ash on twitter, @AJT1892

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Wonder of Lee

Hello to you all on a very much more upbeat Terrier blog than the previous one. The reason for this? We're currently celebrating a clean sheet coupled with 3 points, and invaluable points gained on Sheffield United. The blog today will look back on the game against Hartlepool, but will also be focusing on the run-in.


This was a hugely important game following a week when we imploded in two consecutive away games, the stakes were high and the team were looking to bounce back. However straight forward a home tie may have looked against Hartlepool it was clear that there was a high level of trepidation amongst Town fans. Large numbers of fans had swarmed to social networking sites and DATM to air their discontent at the manager and the team, and Hartlepool was that chance to respond.
The team could easily have displayed that same mental fragility against the monkey hangers on Tuesday night and folded under the pressure, but this time they stood up to the task. Hartlepool approached the game in much the way that many visiting teams at the Galpharm do, with their eye on a point or a tight smash and grab victory. Football under these circumstances can be particularly tough, as we know all too well. The match in itself was fairly uninspiring, there were few chances for Hartlepool and occasional forays into the Town penalty area. The match facts themselves tell a story, 60% possesion, 7 more shots than the opposition, and hilariously Alan Lee topped the fouling charts after just over half an hours play. As the manager and players have said following the game, promotion is the most important thing, how we play isn't. I for one wouldn't care one bit if we won every game from now until the end of the season 1-0 and went up, now isn't the time for entertainers it's a time for bottle, determination and results.
It was brilliant to see the team respond positively following the disappointing week we had just endured, the clean sheet was perhaps most pleasing considering we had shipped 5 goals in 2 away games. Even more impressive was the goal, a fantastic raking ball played over the top by Joey Gudjonsson, immaculate control off the chest by Alan Lee and a pinpoint finish. Remarkable! The ball by Gudjonsson highlights to me his importance to the team, his creativity is in my opinion much greater than anything on offer from the other central midfielders. The control and finish by Alan Lee was fantastic and somewhat shocking, for some time now I have viewed Alan Lee as a player devoid of any technique and simply a big lad that tries hard. With this goal he showed me and others who see him as a figure of derision that he is actually a competent footballer, who needs Jordan ey!?
The game seemed to last an eternity, and although I didn't think so at the time those five minutes at the end of the game may have been a blessing in disguise. That we had to face 5 minutes of stoppage times and hold onto a slender lead was a frightful experience, and it no doubt played on the minds of the Town players. However we held on for the victory and hopefully the players have banished that monkey on their backs, and they may be able to hold onto leads between now and the end of the season.
So the game finished 1-0 to Town and we kept a clean sheet, just the tonic and hopefully we can kick on now starting with Rochdale at home. It's clear that drawing too many games at home in the past has been a problem for us, and if we can win two in quick succession then we may have well turned a corner.
As the players left the pitch on Tuesday night the glorious news of Sheffield Uniteds demise at the Bescot was reaching us, making our result even more important. We're now within two points of the blades with 12 games to go, which isn't an unattainable gap. Besides that Charlton lost, and though it is highly improbable there is still a slight chance that we could catch them, but it is slight. So onto Rochdale at home, a game which was marred by the injury of Anthony Pilkington last season, but hopefully this season it will be remembered solely for a Town victory.

The run-in

At the moment the top of league 1 is a very congested place, barring perhaps Charlton Athletic who have forged a gap at the summit. The table as it stands is below;

No movement1Charlton353978
No movement2Sheff Utd342765
No movement3Sheff Wed351764
No movement4Huddersfield343063
No movement5MK Dons342659
The gap between us and Charlton is 15 points now and our ambitions of top-spot seem out of reach, which is also true of the chairmans ambition of one hundred points which is now mathematically impossible, although I'd be happy with 99! The threat at the moment for the second spot is clearly coming from the two Sheffield clubs, I think it may just be out of reach for MK Dons, as they would be relying on a huge implosion from the three clubs directly above them. Below are the run-ins for us, Sheffield United and Wednesday;
Huddersfield Town

Sat 1015:00HRochdaleFL1     
Sat 1715:00AColchesterFL1     
Tue 2019:45AChesterfieldFL1     
Sat 2415:00HCharltonFL1     
Sat 3115:00ACarlisleFL1     
Tue 319:45ALeyton OrientFL1     
Sat 712:30HSheffield WedFL1     
Mon 915:00ABournemouthFL1     
Sat 1415:00APrestonFL1     
Sat 2115:00HScunthorpeFL1     
Sat 2815:00AWalsallFL1     
Sat 515:00HYeovil TownFL1

Sheffield United

Sat 1015:00ABrentfordFL1     
Tue 1319:45AColchesterFL1     
Sat 1715:00HTranmereFL1     
Tue 2019:45ANotts CountyFL1     
Wed 2819:45HChesterfieldFL1     
Sat 3115:00AHartlepoolFL1     
Sat 715:00HBournemouthFL1     
Tue 1019:45ARochdaleFL1     
Sat 1415:00HLeyton OrientFL1     
Sat 2115:00AMK DonsFL1     
Sat 2815:00HStevenageFL1     
Sat 515:00AExeter CityFL1

Sheffield Wednesday

Sat 1015:00HBournemouthFL1     
Sat 1715:00ANotts CountyFL1     
Tue 2019:45HWalsallFL1     
Sat 2415:00ALeyton OrientFL1     
Sat 3112:45HPrestonFL1     
Sat 712:30AHuddersfieldFL1     
Mon 912:45HOldhamFL1     
Sat 1415:00AColchesterFL1     
Sat 2115:00HCarlisleFL1     
Sat 2815:00ABrentfordFL1     
Sat 515:00HWycombeFL1

Out of all of the run-ins I think ours looks the toughest, we have three very difficult home games to contend with ( Charlton, Wednesday and Scunthorpe), further to that we have extremely difficult away games to contend with at the likes of Preston, Bournemouth and Leyton Orient. The game against Sheffield Wednesday at home will undoubtedly be a big game in the promotion race, however how we fair overall in April will perhaps decide whether we finish 2nd or not. April could prove to be a tricky month for the other two clubs as well, but if we can emerge at the end of the month undefeated then it will certainly give us an edge.
Looking at the fixtures for us and the Sheffield clubs does not fill me with confidence, but I'm of the opinion that we haven't seen the best of this Town team yet, and if they can realise their potential in the next 12 games then we will be celebrating promotion on May 5th.

Tables and fixtures courtesy of;,,10304,00.html,,10312,00.html,,10418,00.html

Thanks to Callum Wrigglesworth for match report contribution