Having to suffer the torture of the international break the Sky Bet Championship returned to the John Smiths Stadium, where Town welcomed both Sheffield Wednesday and the Sky Cameras.
If plaudits have gone to David Wagner and his players for their efforts on the field, then the same must go to Sean Jarvis and his team for theirs off it. As we filtered into the ground, those sat in the Britannia Rescue were greeted with either a white or blue plastic bag, a stunt for the benefit of the camera’s but an impressive spectacle all the same.
When camera’s turned their attentions to matters on the pitch, the high budget, high talent Wednesday side would enjoy the better of the opening exchanges. Town’s penalty would play the role of pinball machine, with some frantic defending and the cross bar coming to the rescue in a rather nervy opening 10 minutes for the home side.
The Terriers would eventually settle in a more familiar pattern of play, in large keeping the ball with Hogg and Mooy desperately trying to make things tick in the middle of the pitch. Arguably Town’s toughest test at home so far this year, Town would find it hard going against a side set up with structure and a clear game plan to condense the pitch and shrink the pockets of space that the likes of Palmer, VLP and Kachunga have found with such ease in previous affairs this season.
The Owls discipline to line up in two banks of four was noticeable; the lively Kieran Lee was instrumental in breaking up play and burst forward as Wednesday looked to play on the break. Town lacked a crispness to their passing and were unable to really get going at any point.
In those flickering moments when the Town frontmen found space they were able to create, Palmer would showcase his pace, power and elegance splitting through the Wednesday midfield before testing an outstretched Westwood.
Rajiv Van La Parra back in the starting XI, was Town’s brightest spark, his ability to drive Town forwards and get at the Owls’ defence would however go to waste, either by a poor decision or lack of attacking support.
VLP looked the most likely route to a goal for Huddersfield, but if criticism is to be pointed at the Dutchman, it would be either his lack of confidence or selflessness when presented with an opportunity to shoot. It would be his failings that would ironically lead to Town’s best chance. When his low cross found its way to Kachunga, his shot took a slight deflection and if not for the quick reactions of the Owls’ number 1 Town could have easily taken the lead.
Mooy tried to repeat his heroics from his last Yorkshire derby, but would also see his sweetly struck half volley drift over the bar.
As the first half drew to a close it would be the host who would feel like they had the slightly better of the first 45 minutes despite being unable to find a way through a very well organised Wednesday team. When the teams returned, the pattern of play would quickly resume with Town struggling to gain any real momentum.
The Terriers would be let off when the ever-dangerous Forestieri gracefully plucked a high and hopeful clearance. He would be left with only the outrushing Ward to beat. When the Wednesday forward sat the Town shot-stopper on the seat of his pants the outcome seemed inevitable, only for the ball to rebound off the post and the John Smiths to collectively gasp a sigh of relief.
The men in blue and white would gradually begin to seek their route to goal through a number of presentable set-pieces. Lowe would see his curling Free Kick brush the top of the net.
In the 68th Minute Wednesday and Forestieri would get their goal, with the tricky forward sending Danny Ward the wrong way from the spot. A game of pinball defending would result in a Lees volley striking the raised arms of Van La Parra from close range. The only criticism I can have with the decision was at how long it took to make.
Wagner introduced Hefele, again as a makeshift striker, who would bring with him the kitchen sink and a note for his teammates, only to be stolen by Ross Wallace. His reading of these tactics (if that’s what they were, I can only speculate) or indeed the tactics themselves had no effect on the game that proceeded.
Wednesday could have given themselves a little breathing room for the final minutes, but a Ward save and Smith clearances ensured the defeat was only by a single goal.
Last seasons Play-off Final runners-up will have their sights set on the Premier League so our first home defeat of the season should perhaps be viewed in perspective.
However disappointing the result was for the record league crowd of 22, 368 it is no cause for concern.
Ooh to be a…