Bygones: When Matt Glennon still ended up a loser with Huddersfield Town despite hat-trick of penalty saves

RARELY can a goalkeeper have left the field with emotions as mixed as Matt Glennon did at Huddersfield Town 10 years ago this week.

Former Huddersfield Towns goalkeeper Matt Glennon
Former Huddersfield Towns goalkeeper Matt Glennon

Not only did he save three penalties in the same game, in the process becoming just the third goalkeeper to do so in the history of English football, but he also finished on the losing side. And as if that was not enough to leave Glennon not knowing whether to laugh or cry then Crewe Alexandra’s goals in their 2-1 triumph came via the head of one Terriers team-mate and a deflection off the foot of another.

“A strange day and a strange feeling,” the 38-year-old recalled over the weekend when speaking to The Yorkshire Post.

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“The thing I remember most that day is coming off the pitch and (Town manager) Peter Jackson’s face. He shook my hand and congratulated me on saving three penalties but he was absolutely gutted to lose the game.

Former Huddersfield Town manager Peter Jackson

“I felt exactly the same. Obviously, I was proud to save three penalties in the same game. There aren’t many ’keepers who manage to do that and it was a great feeling, especially when I kept the third one out. But we lost the match and that was what mattered the most.”

Glennon’s slice of history came on February 24, 2007. Huddersfield, after reaching the League One play-offs the previous season, had spent most of the campaign meandering along in mid-table. Manager Jackson was under pressure but, with Crewe also failing to dent the promotion race, the 10,052 crowd at the Galpharm could scarcely have imagined the drama that lay ahead as the game kicked off.

Town dominated early on but only had Chris Brandon’s 22nd-minute opener to show for their efforts as half-time approached. Paul Hayes had been most culpable in squandering many of the chances created by the hosts and, when David Mirfin tripped Danny Woodards, that profligacy looked like coming back to haunt the Barnsley loanee.

Glennon, however, had other ideas as he blocked Ryan Lowe’s spot-kick with his feet. Penalty save number one, though, was still not enough to prevent Huddersfield heading into the break on level terms, as Mirfin, in trying to clear Luke Varney’s cross, headed into his own net.

Former Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Matt Glennon pictured in 2014. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Lowe, thanks to a cruel deflection off Frank Sinclair that left Glennon wrong-footed in the home goal, put Dario Gradi’s men ahead midway through the second half and the Railwaymen seemed firmly on track for a comfortable victory when referee David Foster adjudged Varney to have been tripped just inside the Town penalty area 11 minutes from time.

Gary Roberts stepped forward but, like Lowe in the first half, he could only look on in horror as Glennon dived full length to beat the ball away. Moments later, however, the cheers of the home fans turned to jeers as Foster ordered a re-take. This time, Julien Baudet assumed responsibility but, again, Glennon won the duel with another save to keep Huddersfield in the game.

Sadly for the Terriers and their heroic goalkeeper, there was to be no fairytale ending with Glennon’s foray up front for a stoppage-time corner failing to yield an equaliser.

“The first one, I saved with my feet and it wasn’t a great penalty, to be fair,” recalls the former goalkeeper, now a pundit at all Town games with BBC Radio Leeds. “The second one was a lot better, and definitely my favourite save of the three.

Former Huddersfield Town manager Peter Jackson

“I couldn’t believe it when the referee ordered it to be taken again. I wasn’t off my line. Or, at least, no further than any goalkeeper ever is when trying to save a penalty. I was fuming, I had saved two penalties already and it just didn’t seem right that they were getting another one for nothing.

“Their captain came barging through the moment the third penalty had been given. He shoved everyone out of the way, as if to say: ‘If you lot can’t score, I’ll have to’. Unfortunately for him, I ended up catching that one!

“I suppose it being three different penalty takers that made the day that bit more unusual. It was a great feeling to save three penalties but it still didn’t make up for losing the match. I’d have swapped the three points for all those saves, definitely.

“What made it worse was Crewe’s first was an own goal. And the second one also took a nick off Frank Sinclair to beat me. Some days, your luck is just out.”

Former Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Matt Glennon pictured in 2014. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

A week on from Glennon’s heroics, Town were due to face Nottingham Forest in what would prove to be the final game of Jackson’s second reign as manager. The morning of what proved to be a horrible day as the Terriers crashed to a 5-1 defeat saw a surprise mention for the club’s goalkeeper on the popular show Soccer AM, something that delighted the man himself.

“I used to love Soccer AM, back in the days when it was good,” he says. “Tim Lovejoy was the presenter and I’d watch it every week, my daughter would even do the catwalk and things like that.

“Anyway, there I was watching it that Saturday morning when suddenly I got a mention. They said: ‘Spare a thought for Matt Glennon, who saved three penalties last week but still ended up on the losing side’. It was a lovely surprise.

“Unfortunately, though, my Sky box crashed a few years ago and I lost all the footage of my career. Chelsea in the FA Cup, Arsenal (for Carlisle), everything went. Even the goal I scored for St Johnstone, who had never had a goalkeeper score a goal for them. I was devastated when it happened. There are still clips on Youtube and things like that. But it was nice to know the footage was all in one place.”

Glennon will be at Manchester City this Wednesday as David Wagner’s Huddersfield look to pull off an almighty shock in their FA Cup fifth round replay. With Town hosting Newcastle United next Saturday, Wagner is expected to turn to his second string XI but Glennon insists the Terriers should travel with no fear.

“I felt Huddersfield played really, really well in the first tie,” he added. “I watched the highlights later and it didn’t reflect what I had seen. The game was entertaining and played at a lot faster pace than it seemed on the TV.

“Mind, I saw Pep (Guardiola) have a little moan about the pitch. That was a bit rich, as there is nothing wrong with the pitch and you can play football on it. When I played, the pitch didn’t have a lot of grass on it but us goalkeepers were still able to trust it as the surface was flat.

“Huddersfield deserve big credit against what was still a strong team despite all the changes with players who had won World Cup, European Cups and so on. The replay will be a different game completely but the Huddersfield lads should not be overawed after playing so well in the first game.”

An exclusive club ...

Before the heroics of Matt Glennon in 2007, just two goalkeepers in the history of English football had previously achieved the feat of saving three penalties in the same game.

The first came in 1909, Grimsby Town’s Walter Scott the hero of the hour as he kept out three of the four spot-kicks he faced in a Second Division game with Burnley at Turf Moor. He denied Walter Abbott, who had earlier opened the scoring, twice either side of keeping out Smith. Abbott, though, got revenge by firing in a later penalty as the Clarets ran out 2-0 winners.

Like Scott and Glennon, Gary Bailey also ended up on the losing side when keeping out three spot-kicks for Manchester United at Ipswich Town in 1980.

Frans Thijssen was the first to be denied from 12 yards by Bailey, who then repeated the trick from Kevin Beattie’s spot-kick. A re-take was ordered due to Bailey moving too early but it made little difference as Beattie chose the same spot only for the United goalkeeper to guess correctly and palm the ball away. Sadly for Bailey, he was less impressive in open play as the Tractor Boys romped to a 6-0 victory courtesy of Paul Mariner’s hat-trick, two goals for Alan Brazil and Thijssen making up for his earlier fluffed penalty.