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Friday, March 26, 2010

Huddersfield Town Preview

You have to admit that the Addicks have never been very good when it comes to local derbies and we are perhaps a bit unfortunate that this year we have a massive 6 of them against the Orient, the Gills and, of course the spanners. Thankfully, all of them are now out of the way with the sum total gained of a pitiful 4 points, out of a possible 18, to show for it. An average then of .66 points per local derby game which when compared, for example, with our figures against the top half teams of League One at 1.26 points per game ( from 4 wins, 4 defeats and 7 draws) shows pretty well where our strengths lie.
So perhaps we need to forget now all about the two points dropped against losing-away specialists Gillingham and concentrate instead on our remaining 9 games, seven of which are against top half opposition. A difficult run-in where we'll need everyone, including the fans , to perform well.
And its surely not escaped anyones attention that its the time of the season when tempers are getting a little frayed around the edges, frustrations are setting in and peoples patience isn't what it should be. Off the pitch, the fans, as you might expect, didn't react very well in the circumstances last weekend with resounding boos at half-time after finding ourselves 1-2 down. But the players responded and Mooney had his say, in one way and another, this time without opening his mouth, although it would probably have been better if he had resisted the temptation to behave like an opposing attacker rather than a home one.
And then there's the management story. Obviously also displaying signs of stress - who knows what's going to happen if he fails this season - Parky gives his own hard-done-by speech and, with everyone ready to jump down the others throat at the slightest wrong word, does himself no favours and all you can say is that its probably a good job for everyone that the next two games are away from home.

Yes, its the nervous, pressure end of the season and everyones' feeling it as we move on to Huddersfield, the only team realistically that can keep us out of 6th place. The last time we played the Terriers I wrote, "Huddersfield are currently 8th, seven points behind the Addicks with only 1 win ( and 4 defeats) from their 6 away games." That was back in October and not a great deal has changed since then. They are still outside the Play-offs in 7th place but have picked up a point on us and are now 6 points behind.

FormOver the season, Huddersfield have the 7th best home record, as far as points are concerned, in Tier Three ( the Addicks are 5th in home form and an impressive 4th best away from home) and suffered their first home defeat of the season last time out, a 1-3 loss to Norwich after going in front in the 3rd minute, and after leading for over an hour until the usual Norwich fight-back with three late goals in the last 20 minutes. And that defeat follows four succesive home draws against Bristol, Carlisle, Swindon and Leeds and you have to go right back to the 16th of January to find their last home win, 2-1 over Southend.

In fact, on current form, looking at just the last 5 home games of all the teams in League One, the Terriers are bottom of the pile with only 4 home points to show from the last 15 available. Not promotion form really and nothing that Parky should wet himself about.

And on form since the turn of the year when they reached 5th place their performances have dropped somewhat and its been only 6 wins in the last 14 games (with the Addicks only on 5) and at home after their early season goalscoring form with their 7 goals against Brighton in August and a 6-o win over Wycombe in November and two 4-0 goal walkovers over Exeter and Orient in October its been very quiet at the quaintly named Galtharm with no more than a couple of goals scored in each of their last 7 home games. They've now scored the same goals as the Addicks and conceded 1 more.
Twenty-year old Jordan Rhodes is their leading scorer with 19 and is another Ipswich Town youth star and he's been at Huddersfield since last summer. But has only scored twice in the last 13 games.
Whats Their Secret?
While the Saints, Leeds and the Addicks lead the half-time table, Huddersfield are a bit more cautious and only Leeds and Carlisle have been drawing more games at half time in the top half of the table. But they have been good at fight-backs all season and have won 4 times after going behind only bettered by Norwich with 5.
But their worst secret is their performances against the cream of Tier Three. Because rather worryingly for our Play-off prospects, all the current top 6 have a good record against the best but the Terriers are down there in a lowly 12th place and have lost half of their 'Big Games', ie 9. In comparison the spanners have lost only 2 (bristol and Norwich away), the Addicks ( Colchester, Carlisle, Bristol, and the spanners) and Swindon 4 each while the party-poopers from East Anglia and Leeds (!) have both lost 5 games.
We've won 5 of our last 9 games in Huddersfield streching back 37 years and we won our last Division Three game there in 1980 and our very last game, in 1999. So not a bad record at the Terriers with a total of 10 wins and 16 defeats in 35 league games. The home win last october saw the last Addicks goal by Izzy McLeod and he was replaced on 89 minutes by our new legend David Mooney for his first game for the reds.

What Are They Saying?
Everyone's been having their say this week so I'll just pass on these few words from you know who, "To come back out for the second half after being roundly booed at half-time and to show the conviction we did showed tremendous character. I didn't see anyone hiding or not wanting the ball so I give enormous credit to the lads." And if anyone remembers, there are a few games last season where you couldn't say that.

The loss of in-form Elliot for the next two or three weeks is a serious blow to Parky's plans and we can only applaud the club for facing facts and getting in the inappropriately named Anthony Randolph "Tony" Warner on loan till the end of the season. He's a 35 year old scouser and has been out of work since leaving Hull in February and is perhaps most famous for his 'mistakes' and being the spanners Player of the Year in 2003.

The rest of the defence will stay the same with another left-back available in young Matt Fry from West Ham and it will attempt to increase its number of clean sheets from the current 2 in last 17 games. In the same period even Huddersfield have managed 7, although at the other end we have only failed to score twice in the last 24 (Orient and the spanners).

In midfield, Jose Semedo is reported as being doubtful with a contusion to his thigh but Parky has sought no more additions to the squad in this area so it'll either be as you were or with his replacement by either Matt Spring or Jonjo Shelvey with Racon moving back to cover for the Portuguese. Sam is also suffering from a contusion to his calf and could also be missing.

Up front, Deon and, of course, Leon are also out injured and Akpo needs pain-killing injections in his foot. All of which means that we need Dave Mooney more than ever and its time to surely shut up and give him support and remind him, in the best possible way, that he is wearing one of our shirts. And alongside him, if a 4-4-2 is Parky's plan, we'll see new loanee 36 year old Nicky Forster from Brighton. He's on 16 goals for the season and back in October last year was awarded the Football League One Player of The Month award, for his impressive start to the season, netting 7 goals.

Warner; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje(S), Borrowdale; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Racon; Forster, Mooney


With injuries galore playing havoc with the Addicks line-up and training during the week and with a possible two new players on the pitch it may just be a question of how much the Terriers want it. But our record there is good and their form of late has not been so hot so a draw looks the only result we can expect, so 1-1 it is.

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