Blackpool 1 Huddersfield Town 3: Huddersfield’s attacking verve fully rewarded

FORGET the illuminations that are a little over three weeks into their annual run, Blackpool was last night lit up in the most spectacular of fashions by rampant Huddersfield Town.

Goals from Lee Novak, James Vaughan and Oliver Norwood were enough to not only inflict a first home defeat of the season on Ian Holloway’s side but also power the Terriers into the Championship’s automatic promotion places.

Steve Bruce was the manager the last time Huddersfield were able to enjoy the view from such a lofty position, way back in the 1999-2000 season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That campaign was destined to end in disappointment as the Yorkshire club missed out on a play-off place by just two points.

Of course, no one knows how it will end this time around, but there can be little doubt that the comprehensive manner of last night’s triumph against one of the second tier’s most fancied teams can only bode well for the challenges that lay ahead.

Certainly, the quality that Huddersfield showed in midfield – which was perhaps best embodied by the display of Norwood – together with how impressively Vaughan led the line up front suggests Simon Grayson has built a team capable of lasting the pace.

Not even the blow of conceding an equaliser against the run of play during a one-sided first half, when Town old boy Gary Taylor-Fletcher netted from close range, could deflate the visitors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Blackpool had earlier shown tremendous initiative to ensure the game was played following the torrential downpour that had begun early yesterday morning by putting a call into Lancashire County Cricket Club.

The giant ‘Super Sopper’ that is used to dry the outfield at Old Trafford was quickly drafted in and did such a marvellous job that there was never any question of the pitch being a problem.

Whether Blackpool were quite as pleased, however, with the Sopper’s handiwork come the final whistle is a moot point after the manner in which Holloway’s side had been humbled on their own turf.

Certainly, having netted 12 goals in winning all three of their previous home league games before last night the Seasiders cannot have expected a visiting side to travel to Bloomfield Road with such clear attacking intent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But that is exactly what Town did, Grayson having sent his players out with the message to take the game to their hosts in a similar fashion to last week when they had beaten Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 at Hillsborough.

Such a bold approach paid dividends inside 13 minutes when Novak put the Terriers ahead with a clinical finish from 18 yards after latching on to Vaughan’s flick-on.

Going ahead was no more than Huddersfield deserved with Danny Ward having already brought a flying save from Matthew Gilks by the time Novak had netted his second goal in as many games.

Gilks was again in action on 20 minutes when he was fortunate that a deflected shot from Norwood flew straight into his hands before Ward underlined the visitors’ dominance with a fierce shot that flew just inches past the post.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Blackpool clearly needed something special to breathe fresh life into their performance and it came via the talented Thomas Ince.

Collecting the ball on the right side of the Town penalty area, the Seasiders forward showed tremendous skill to squeeze his way past Anthony Gerrard and fire the ball across goal.

Taylor-Fletcher, regaled with chants of ‘you used to play for a big club’ for most of the evening by the visiting fans, was then on hand to touch the ball in and bring Blackpool level.

Being pegged back after such an impressive opening quarter was cruel but Huddersfield refused to be downcast and hit back to restore their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A clumsy foul on Jack Hunt by former Leeds full-back Stephen Crainey was the catalyst, as it allowed Norwood to size up a free-kick that he delivered beautifully for Vaughan to head powerfully past Gilks.

Town’s night got even better within three minutes of the restart when Norwood extended their lead with a whipped in free-kick from the left flank that flew straight in without anyone getting a touch.

Now the visiting faithful really were in dreamland as they celebrated Huddersfield snatching a third goal for the second consecutive game on their travels.

Vaughan thought he had added a fourth only for a linesman’s flag to cut short his celebrations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The loanee then headed just wide after the hour when picked out by Peter Clarke’s header back across goal. Holloway had seen enough and sent on Kevin and Matt Phillips. The latter almost pulled a goal back but drilled wide of the post but there was to be no denying Town a famous victory.

Blackpool: Gilks; Eardley (Dicko 78), Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey; Osbourne, Gomes (M Phillips 63), Ferguson (K Phillips 63); Ince, Delfouneso, Taylor-Fletcher. Unused substitutes: Sylvestre, Halstead, Angel, Broadfoot.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Hunt, P Clarke, Gerrard, Dixon; Clayton, Southern (Arfield 90), Norwood (Woods 85), Ward; Novak, Vaughan (Scannell 80). Unused substitutes: Bennett, Wallace, Lee, Robinson.

Referee: T Bates (Staffordshire).

Huddersfield Town’s home derby with neighbours Leeds United has been brought forward a day to November 30 to be televised live by Sky.