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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Huddersfield Town Preview

After five games in 15 days, with Colchester steaming up behind, and issues over injuries and niggles all starting to surface leave Parky facing some difficult decisions this weekend. Another home game against Huddersfield gives him an opportunity to try new attacking options but will he use them?

This weeks visitor is Lee Clark, in his first managerial job since he joined the Terriers last December. He's still only 36, played at Newcastle for most of his career before he moved to then second division Sunderland in 1997. And, yes of course, you've recognised the year because he played in the side that reached the play-off final in May 1998 and we all know what happened next.

Condemned to play another year in the second it seems he wasn't a happy bunny because, despite being promoted to the Premiership in 1999 with a (then) league record of 105 points, he was spotted with some old mates among the Newcastle fans at the 1999 FA Cup Final shortly afterwards, wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Sad Mackem Bastards". He was immediately dropped from the team, and never played for Sunderland again, moving to Fulham the same year.

His team Huddersfield are currently 8th, seven points behind the Addicks with only 1 win ( and 4 defeats) from their 6 away games. On opening day they drew with 2-2 at Southend coming back from 2 goals down, then after 3 home wins in a row (including the 7-1 over Brighton) they suffered their first defeat 1-0 at Bristol to an 84th minute goal. They then lost to Newcastle 4-3 in the League Cup after going 3-1 in front before winning 3-2 at MK Dons this time after being 2-1 down. They then lost 3-1 at Millwall but kept going and scored a consolation goal 5 minutes from time.
But, after a boring goalless draw at home to lowly Stockport, their away form really hit a bad run with three games away from home on the run and all were lost. They went down 2-1 at Walsall with the winner coming 3 minutes from time, then 1-0 to Colchester again with a late winner in the 80 minute. A JPT game at Chesterfield was next and after being 3-1 down they hit back with 2 goals in injury time only to lose on penalties.

The Opposition
They clearly don't suffer foreigners up there in Huddersfield for the Terriers are a completely English squad with no foreigners on their books, except for the obligatory 4 Irishmen.

I can't find the name for it but there's definitely a Clarke fixation at the Galpharm Healthcare Stadium (!). Apart from the manager there's another three of them, two in the middle of the defence. Captain is number 5 Peter Clarke, ex of Premiership Everton and its rumoured, was offered a deal by the Addicks during the summer but turned us down to move to Huddersfield, and the name for that is idiotic. Alongside him there's number 6 Terrier stalwart Nathan Clarke, at the Town for eight years. Then there's his brother Tom, sadly for Clarke fans, out of the team.

Number 10 Robbie Simpson is a new boy bought in the summer from Coventry for a rumoured 300K. He joined Coventry in 2007, bought by Iain Dowie from Cambridge for a song and was proclaimed "a future star" by Dowie - where have we heard that before, and, of course, he's failed to score, so far, for the Terriers.

Seems that Clark likes the rotation idea with two strikers Simpson and Robinson playing away at Colchester in a backs to the wall formation but with Rhodes and Novak being preferred at home last weekend against Exeter. Nineteen year old Jordan Rhodes certainly enjoyed his break scoring three headed goals in 8 minutes against Exeter in the 4-0 win and he heads their scoring table with 8 League goals and eleven in total while they have in reserve another youngster the number nine, twenty year old , Theo Robinson on 5.

Whats Their Secret?
With only 1 win in their last 5 away games - and 4 defeats - they'll come to defend. But beware, only three teams have come from behind to win this season in the League One; Bristol, Walsall and Huddersfield, and the Terriers did it in their only away win, at MK Dons, winning 3-2 after going a goal behind. And they have also come from two goals behind at Southend and Chesterfield to get draws.
And Huddersfield are also the League One second highest scorers with 23 goals only one less than Norwich on 24.

What They Saying?
First there's a lone voice from the town supporting his manager while others are calling for his head. Oh and he doesn't appear to see the weekends game as "winnable".
And Clark himself wasn't too pleased with Towns' recent performance against Chesterfield in the JPT last week. "The cup tie went to penalties because we defended absolutely abysmally for their second and third goals. We can't be coming and dominating proceedings, certainly like we did in the early part of the game, and then giving goals away like we have - it's not conducive to winning football matches." Well, at least his spelling is spot on.
Meanwhile, while we comfortably used Plan B to beat Barnet in the JPT in the night's biggest win, Mr Grayson was not so happy up there in Leeds. He made 6 changes for the side that played us and although they managed to beat rock bottom Darlington 2-1 he seems far from pleased.
And as a warning of what's to come, Colchester manager Boothroyd, after Colchester's 1-0 win in Huddersfield's last League away game, "They came to spoil, played with a back five, and tried to counterattack. We overcame it and it wasn't a particularly good spectacle".

Its been 9 eventful years since we played Huddersfield in the same Division back in our Championship winning year 1999/2000 when in our usual Curbishley fashion we were limping towards the title - they won that game in April 1-0. And along with Norwich, Huddersfield are the team we've played the most, 35 seasons worth including our most memorial win the 7-6 in December '57.

Overall in the League its 31-25 to the Addicks with 14 draws with an impressive 21-9 with 5 draws at the Valley.

The Team
There's a number of tricky selection decisions to be made by Parky this weekend and at the back of his mind is the worrying statistic that he hasn't scored for three games, League that is. In defence he has to decide between the returning bravery of Sammy Sodje and the scoring threat of Miguel LLera. Against a team that are likely to have learnt from Oldham's example, if they needed any encouragement after their display at Colchester, and will come to defend, perhaps we should look towards scoring goals rather than defending.
Then there's the reported return from injury of Jose Semedo. He was instrumental in our first 6 wins and will surely replace the hard-working Spring.

Then there's the question mark being constantly raised over Jonjo? Should he be rested or given another go to impress while in front of him Burton has failed to add to his total over the last three games, as has McLeod, so is it time to try the different approach of our now fit number nine Leon McKenzie?

But no, I don't think so, too many changes could be throwing out the baby with the bath water so Parky will stick to two; Semedo and Sodje to return and the rest as is.

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sonje, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton

It'll be Oldham all over again with another team determined to get away with a point and they may play 5 at the back as they did against Colchester. We've conceded 5 of our 10 goals in the last 5 minutes of each half which suggests that our concentration drifts a bit which could be fatal against this lot who show true Yorkshire grit and keep going till the end and its worth remembering that everything seems to happen at the end of Huddersfield games as it did in 1957.
Meanwhile our record against the top half teams is pretty bad, 16th out of 24 with no wins in 4 games against Leeds, Colchester, Oldham and Norwich. This needs to be put right soon but the Terriers won't make it easy although they are also shit against the cream; only winning once at MK Dons whilst losing at Bristol, Colchester and Millwall.
So assuming that luck won't desert us a second week running ( conveniently forgetting Richardson's penalty area trip) and with our 21-9 home record against them its a home banker for me. 2-1 to the Addicks.


Dave said...

Only three sides have come from behind to win all season in League One? Amazing stat Nelson. We will need to show that sort of resilience and determination before much longer.

nelson said...

Hi Dave, Did I say that? What an idiot, whats the point of finding all these stats if I tell them wrong. Of course, it should read "only three teams have come from behind TWICE etc", 'cause of course the Addicks did it at Orient.
Gotta hope, I suppose, that Huddersfield don't make it 3 times tomorrow.