Blackburn 1 Huddersfield 1: Don't write us off, warns Martin Cranie

MARTIN CRANIE'S claim that he could easily have taken home the match-ball told you all you need to know about Saturday's events.

Huddersfields Kasey Palmer celebrates opening the scoring in the Championship encounter at Blackburn (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

It was certainly no wild exaggeration, with his fellow Huddersfield Town defender Michael Hefele also passing up the chance of a nice addition to his trophy room – but more of him later.

The pre-match concern may have centred on Town’s gift-wrapped defending, but they left Ewood Park with issues of a wholly different kind.

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Namely their inability to defeat an opponent after creating enough chances to win several games.

The sight of a vibrant Huddersfield side full of endeavour and movement was a reassuring one.

As was a much more sound defensive display, aside from one momentary first-half aberration from Hefele, which pretty much cost the visitors securing all three points.

But the lack of a ruthless edge in front of goal was galling and stuck in the throat.

This was definitely two points dropped as Cranie rightly ventured, for Town should have been hailing just their second win in eight matches.

Cranie, who enjoyed an eye-catching first league outing of the season in place of the suspended Tommy Smith, said: “As a team, we got a lot of chances and caused a lot of problems from crosses in play in general.

“It was two points dropped for us.

“I could have walked away with the match-ball. I hit the bar and I should have scored with a header, definitely, and another chance sort of got caught under my foot a little bit, and there was a header at the end as well.

“That was probably a little bit more difficult, but I should have at least scored one.

“The performance was there and the fans could see we gave everything.

“We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. In another game, we’d have scored four.”

In the first half, let alone the whole game, Town could have easily found the net four times, such was their dominance.

On their previous visit to Lancashire in late October, Huddersfield were subjugated by a powerhouse Preston side who bullied them.

Here, it was a role reversal with Town overwhelming Rovers who looked likely to concede every time a ball was sent into the area in the first half.

It was an unfathomable mystery that a breakneck opening yielded just one Town goal, when Kasey Palmer headed in from Chris Lowe’s corner.

Hefele put a header wide from point-blank range and somehow failed to bundle the ball home from a few yards out. Cranie headed against the bar and fired over from a great chance and Jason Steele also tipped over a fine free-kick from Aaron Mooy.

The impressive Rajiv Van La Parra also went desperately close with a couple of first-half chances, but the telling development arrived at the other end with Danny Graham firing home from the spot after Hefele’s needless foul on Sam Gallagher.

After peppering the home goal in the first period, Town also forced the initiative on the restart with Steele denying Mooy and parrying Elias Kachunga’s effort in the pick of their many moments.

But Town could not find a way through, with the upshot being that they now find themselves out of the play-off positions for the first time this season.

If they can find a cutting edge, they will soon be back in, contrary to what several observers from the outside are perhaps thinking. Town’s race is far from run.

Cranie added: “We know what (some) people will say and, at the start of the season, I think we were the favourites to go down. We were flying and got to the top of the league.

“It has boiled off recently and from the outside, you hear whispers saying ‘that’s their good run done, they are probably going to slip down the league now and finish mid-table’.

“But we put that to the back of our minds and it doesn’t really bother us as we concentrate on what we are all doing on the pitch.

“People write you off and put you down as not a big club and say you have had a lucky run and aren’t going to finish high. But we still believe we can finish in the play-offs or higher. That’s our ambition.”

Blackburn Rovers: Steele; Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew; Williams; Feeney, J Lowe, Evans, Conway (Emnes 68); Gallagher, Graham. Unused substitutes: Raya, Greer, Byrne, Akpan, Guthrie, Bennett.

Huddersfield Town: Ward; Cranie (Stankovic 87), Hefele, Schindler, C Lowe; Hogg (Billing 85), Mooy; Van La Parra, Palmer, Wells (Bunn 85); Kachunga. Unused substitutes: Coleman, Whitehead, Holmes-Dennis, Payne.

Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshire).