Huddersfield 0 Ipswich 1: Town fluff their lines but this is only a rehearsal, claims Smith

Huddersfield Town's Nahki Wells lets fly but is unable to find the net against Ipswich Town (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
Huddersfield Town's Nahki Wells lets fly but is unable to find the net against Ipswich Town (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
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#WAGNERREVOLUTION is how Huddersfield Town are marketing the club’s new cut-price season ticket deal.

In many ways, it is an appropriate slogan with the Terriers’ head coach having wrought huge change on the Yorkshire club since taking charge in early November.

Style of play, training regime, even the club’s thought process – all have been dramatically altered on Wagner’s watch and, as a result, Huddersfield appear to be a club on the up once again after a few flat years.

However, for all this shifting of the football landscape at the John Smith’s Stadium, one basic premise of the game remains.

If a team can not take its chances at one end and then commits a basic error at the other then there is only going to be one result: defeat.

So it proved against Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, who returned to Suffolk with all three points despite being inferior in every aspect of an entertaining game bar one.

Ben Pringle succeeded where a host of home players failed by converting a first-half goal-scoring opportunity to settle a contest that had seen the hosts enjoy almost 70 per cent of possession and get in more than three times as many efforts on goal as the Tractor Boys.

An eighth league defeat under Wagner – and 15th overall this season – came as a huge disappointment to the players, as Tommy Smith was quick to stress afterwards. The defender did, though, add just how far he believes the Terriers have come since Wagner began his West Yorkshire revolution.

“People forget the manager has only been here a short length of time,” the 23-year-old told The Yorkshire Post. “He has made a big impact in such a short space of time, but things will get even better the longer we go on.

“Things have been different to what we had been used to. I won’t say it is harder or easier, but the manager has come in and made things easy for us by explaining things.

“We had a week away in Marbella when the manager first came in and that was a big help. He got his ideas across to us there.

“Of course, a pre-season next summer will offer more time for us to bond as a team. It is almost like a fresh start and he can bring in who he wants.

“But, so far, we have bought into it and I believe things are taking shape. I think the crowd can see what we are trying to do. We have a new way of playing and are trying to keep the ball. Changes like this can’t happen overnight.

“Gradually, though, we are improving game-by-game. I believe that, in the future, we will win matches like Ipswich rather than lose them.”

One of the many changes implemented by Wagner since succeeding Chris Powell is an overhaul of the club’s training programme.

Out have gone the traditional morning starts to be replaced by sessions that begin at 3pm during the build-up to a weekend game or 7.45pm ahead of night-time missions.

The theory is that by synchronising the start times, a player is better conditioned to perform in matches. In terms of how Huddersfield began against the promotion-chasing Tractor Boys, the theory appears sound with Town’s most inventive spell coming during the opening quarter.

All that was missing was the finish, as, first, Kyle Dempsey headed wastefully wide following a sweeping move that involved Joel Lynch and Jason Davidson. Nahki Wells, a far more complete striker under Wagner than he had looked following his switch from Bradford City, was then guilty of similar profligacy when played clear by a long ball from Smith as Bartosz Bialkowski pulled off a save.

Harry Bunn was the next home player to fluff his lines when set up by Karim Matmour and, at this stage with just 15 minutes on the clock, it appeared a matter of when and not if the hosts took the lead.

Then, though, came the afternoon’s decisive moment, as Lynch made a hash of trying to shepherd the ball behind for a goal-kick and Daryl Murphy capitalised to claim possession.

A rolled pass across the face of goal then provided an opening for Pringle and the former Rotherham United man, on loan at Portman Road from Fulham, duly fired in from 10 yards.

Huddersfield continued to press after that, though perhaps without the same guile and swagger of the opening exchanges. Chances were created but spurned, most notably by Davidson on the hour-mark when the Australian full-back stabbed a shot wide.

Jonathan Hogg, who later suffered a suspected medial ligament injury that could keep the midfielder out for up to eight weeks, also had a late chance, but Bialkowski proved his equal to condemn Huddersfield to a frustrating defeat.

Smith added: “We don’t want the season to fizzle out. We want to take as many points as we can, starting with Derby next weekend. We fancy ourselves in any game.”