POST MATCH RAMBLE: Huddersfield Town -v- Wednesday

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Huddersfield Town -v- Wednesday

This is one of the first fixtures I look out for when they’re released for the season.

I live about 15 minutes outside of Huddersfield in Holmfirth, (pensioners in tin bath territory) so I know plenty of Town fans including the missus’ family.

It’s a stadium I know well and is probably the away stadium I’ve been to most over the years. I’ve even lost on penalties in a school tournament here and, randomly, played saxophone in a concert for the Queen’s Jubilee back in ’02. (Rock and Roll I know)

So I have a bit of soft spot for ‘Udders as should most Wednesdayites – let’s not forget, we have them to thank for doing their part in keeping the Blunts down in League One.

Sadly, my Dad made the omission in the car that he’d forgotten the mints and toffees. Gutted, I felt around in my coat pocket for some salvation only to find a dodgy work banana from last Tuesday. It’s fair to say it’d had seen better days.

Once parked up, we made the short walk across the road up to the stadium. This is Town’s third stadium name change since ‘94 after firstly the McAlpine and then the Galpharm and now the John Smiths. I’d be gutted if Milan ever sold the Hillsborough name. It’s a popular debate among football fans – would we give up a name etched in football history for the sake of a potential couple more million in the transfer window? Ask a Newcastle fan.

John Smiths Stadium

Not all concrete and clay

I remember Beastie commenting last season on what a lovely backdrop the John Smith’s Stadium is set in and I couldn’t agree more. In amongst the trees, as you hit the brow of the hill to the car park, the JS really is a fine looking home for the Terriers.

As like most days at the moment, it was a windy day and you could hear ale-d up chorus’ of “Ole Ole…” in the distance which brought a smile to Wednesdayites as we headed towards the turnstiles.

After a pretty thorough pat-down from the steward (the sod squashed mi banana in my pocket) we were then presented with a man in a Covonia t-shirt.

Covonia, for those not up on your medicinal syrups, have added throat lozenges to their repertoire and, not one to shy away from owt for nowt, me and Dad duly accepted the weirdest freebie we’ve ever received at a football match and made our way to our seats whilst sucking on our free lozenge.

After the frustration of the Derby defeat, a game we definitely didn’t deserve to lose, I was a bit worried the confidence that was clearly running through the team at the moment might have dipped ever so slightly. How bad was that ref though? Surely today we’d get a man in black at the height of football officialdom…

Shooting practice is always fun to watch at away games as I believe they give a real insight into the mood of the players and tell you who is up for it and who isn’t. Antonio wasn’t looking too healthy as his first effort nestled in with the Wednesdayite’s, encamped behind the goal, his second wider than wide. Nuhui though nailed his first three drawing ironic cheers from the Wednesday faithful. To be fair he looked as surprised as we did that he’d hit the back of the net.

It was great to see Gray out there with the boys. He got a great reception along with the players as they completed their final warm-up and they returned the favour to another massive away following.

Had to spare a thought for the flag wavers on the far side. They had four massive flags between them and had been waving them since before 2.30. They looked knackered. Nice touch from the announcer before kick off though confirming that “for today’s game, 2 yellows do in fact mean a red” with a nod to Helan’s phantom yellow last season.

THE MATCH

SG decided to rest a few before Monday. Well that was the opinion of most but I wasn’t so sure. I think it’s difficult to say what our starting 11 should look like but anyway there was a few today with a point to prove namely Helan, Nuhui and Maghoma.

Covonia

Covo-o-o-o-o-nia!

The other thing I like about this stadium is the noise away fans can generate. We were in fine voice and ‘Ole Ole’ was sounding both wonderful and awful in equal measure as it tends to do. There was also an unmistakable whiff of Covonia lozenge in the air. We clearly had well lubricated pipes.

Huddersfield seemed to settle quicker than us and definitely had the better of the opening exchanges. Our defence, which seems to have a different central pairing every game, was looking uneasy. The first real chance came from Gardner nutmegging Llera in our own area, presenting an opportunity to Nahki Wells, a lad we’d shown interest in before. I was keen to see what kind of game he’d have after hearing mixed reports from my Town mates. This chance was mopped up by Llera but that wasn’t the end of our calamitous defending.

Palmer has a great future ahead of him, has had a cracking season so far and has more than covered for the White Cafu at right back. But he still has a lot to learn and over the last couple of games, he’s got himself into a bit of bother with a few misplaced passes and today was no exception. His judgment was a bit off and he ended up giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position and getting himself booked in the end trying to chase down a wayward pass. Fortunately, the free-kick came to nothing.

Kirkland was in the right place to foil a header from Ward that was luckily straight at him. He then pulled off a fantastic save down to his right from Adam Hamill after some hesitance from our back line. We did start to grow into the game though and the young impressive central pairing of Hutchinson and Gardner started to rev the engine room with Gardner himself seeing a snapshot fizz past the post.

Reda Hudds Crowd

Reda-Reda-Reda

It was around midway through the first half that my eyes were drawn to a big fella in a red hat with a big smile and a lady on each arm. The legend that is Reda Johnson had just made his way up the stairs to join us in the away end. I love this. It’s a fantastic sight to see a player in amongst you. I’ve seen Gerrard do it at Liverpool and now we had the big man with us. He was even singing along to Ole Ole whilst pointing out the finer points of the game to his lady friends.

We had more of a foothold in the game now and Hutchinson and Gardner continued to grow into the game with Helan and Maghoma linking up well up top. Antonio was still looking a bit lacklustre, maybe a start was a game too far for him as he fights back to fitness? There was one point where he was put through but it seemed like he just didn’t want it enough. Turns out this was probably when he sprained his ankle.

On 40 minutes, we had the breakthrough and it was just about deserved. Palmer took a throw-in towards Nuhui who managed to flick the ball on to Helan. He then wriggled and tormented his way past the Town defender and hooked the ball towards the far post and into the net, sending us potty.

0 – 1 get in. That would do very nicely before just half time.

The noise was deafening and how we bounced. I looked over to Reda in the hope that he too would be bouncing but sadly no. Of course, Reda wouldn’t be bouncing as the stand would buckle and break under his sheer power.

HT: TOWN 0 WEDNESDAY 1

It wasn’t a great first half. Scrappy in places with errors on both sides. Words needed to be had from both managers. I figured if we could weather the first 10 of the second, we might just do it.

Good to see Boothy on the pitch for his regular annual wave to the Wednesdayites. He scored against Arsenal you know.

It was funny to hear random shouts of Reda! Reda! Reda! from the pie queue as different people realized it was him. Needs a different colour bobble hat mind…

SECOND HALF
Town started the second half well. Palmer seemed to misjudge a deep cross from Town’s impressive bearded Viking Adam Clayton, leaving Ward with just Kirkers to beat. Our big yellow number 1 got down well though and denied him with his legs.

The referee in this game clearly had the same handbook as the guy against Derby and obviously sponsored by Covonia as he handed out yellow cards out like they were free lozenge samples and for the second game running, the tenacious Hutchinson found his way into the notebook for a perfectly timed tackle. Other than blowing up for niggly tackles, he also refused to give a handball for either side. In fact there was one moment where there were 3 different handball incidents in the space of a couple of minutes.

We were all giving it the ‘Handball!! Handball!! Handball!!’ towards the Town fans to counter their appeal only for them to give it back to us when we appealed for one of our own. Good stuff.

Gardsky and Hutch

Do it…do it…DO IT

The locals were getting restless now though and increasingly frustrated as we hurried and scurried their midfield and backline – something that has SG’s influence stamped all over it. Our work rate and desire was phenomenal with a lot of that coming from ‘Gardsky and Hutch‘ in the middle. We were first to every second ball and looked far more assured in defence now. Helan was having a great game and was at one point clean through only to be cynically brought down by Gerrard.

Town had a fair chunk of possession but they weren’t going anywhere with it. They didn’t seem to have a Plan B and without Vaughan, they looked very light up front with Wells pretty much anonymous.

Our second goal came just at the right time and was richly deserved. Maghoma, who’d had one of his best games for us, broke down the left and cut inside to Maguire. His shot was deflected into the path of Hutchinson whose first time shot found it’s way back to Maghoma. With his back to goal, he held off a pretty feeble Town defender to swivel and shoot past Smithies to make it 0 – 2.  That 9 away match unbeaten run looked like it would remain intact.

The boys celebrated right in front of the fans and we duly lapped it up. The goal seemed to mean as much to them as it did to us.

The last 15 mintues was pretty much just a celebration. It was almost, dare I say, comfortable for us. There was a great demonstration of just how thick a footballer can be at one point where the Town keeper Smithies took a quick goal kick with two of his own players on the deck injured and the ref stood over them. He then effed and jeffed at the ref for not allowing his quick taking. “Na then Brain Cell, sa doin?” came the call from three rows behind.

Then we had a hoofing masterclass courtesy first of Mattock who managed to put the ball on the heeeyuuge roof of the stand to our right then Llera managed to do the same on the heeeeyuuge roof of the stand to our left. Quite a feat.

Yes we might have got a bit complacent towards the end with Town hitting the bar and having a header narrowly go over but we deserved this make no mistake. The final whistle blew and the players made their way over. We heaped praise on their shoulders and they literally gave us the shirt off their backs. Brilliant.

FULL TIME: TOWN 0 WEDNESDAY 2
———–
I couldn’t get over how good the work-rate was today. This is one of the main improvements I’ve seen since DJ. The fitness just seems to have got better and everyone is playing for the shirt week in week out.

Gardsky and Hutch, once settled, proved to be a great force in the middle and gives SG something to think about for Monday. Helan did a hell of a lot of running, as did Maghoma. Mattock was solid, Llera and Gooch did well until the American went off and Maguire and Best also played their part with Maguire unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside.

Nuhiu Bent Over

Put a shift in

And then there’s Nuhui. The big man has quite rightly had his slaters but you can’t deny the guy is a trier and he put a shift in today. He needs to keep working on his heading though. He won a few more today but I genuinely think that he’s just not been taught how to head the ball properly growing up. Coaches have probably just assumed that he can head the ball because of his size but not as simple as that. He’s not a finisher but he does bring something to the team I’m sure of it. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Madine is allowed back in

As soon as the whistle blew, my nerves kicked in for Monday. We SHOULD beat Charlton. If we play with the same desire and heart that we did today then we’ll be in the Quarters with a real chance of going to Wembley. But we all know it’s not as easy as that don’t we?

Let’s get down to Hillsborough on Monday night and get the old lady rocking. The lads might just need us if we’re sat on a 1-0 with 10 to go… <shudder>…

UTO

Tom
Twitter: @Owlsalive & @tjchitt86
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com


One Comment

  1. Another great report Tom .Lets hope your winning streak continues when you next do the Ramble.

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