Huddersfield Town 0 Cardiff 0: Smithies stays positive after stalemate

HUDDERSFIELD Town owe their fans a far improved performance when Reading are the visitors tomorrow night.

Huddersfield Towns Mark Hudson, a former Cardiff captain, blocks Aron Gunnarsson (Picture: Graham Crowther).

Some goalless games can prove intriguing encounters, but this was not one of them.

Despite protestations to the contrary, both teams appeared to be looking over their shoulders, afraid of a defeat which would have given those in the drop zone hopes of overhauling them.

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Certainly a touch more adventure from either side could have brought victory yet they both appeared anxious not to be hit on the counter attack.

They mirrrored each other’s 4-4-2 formations and cancelled each other out – Town manager Chris Powell’s attacking introductions of Harry Bunn and Joe Lolley coming too late to have any time to take effect.

Defenders on both sides will have been happy with their afternoon’s work, however, and Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies was delighted with his back four.

Smithies, the hero behind Town’s draw at title-chasers Bournemouth in their previous match, had just one save to make this time, doing well to flick over a powerful close-range header from Eoin Doyle in the first half.

Town’s No 1, also showing great confidence with his handling of crosses, praised centre-backs Mark Hudson, a former Cardiff captain, and Scotland Under-21 Murray Wallace, for their performances.

Smithies said: “The last couple of games, defensively we have been solid. We ground out a good point at Bournemouth and though we were a little disappointed with the outcome of the game (against Cardiff), defensively we were solid and managed to keep them out.

“Without doubt in the last two games our two centre-backs have stood out, being so solid and strong, winning the headers, winning the personal battles and that’s so important. Unfortunately, we kept Cardiff out but were unable to score and that is unusual because we have not normally been short of goals.

“At least we have not lost and at least there is a game coming quickly and we will move on.”

On Wallace, who made one particularly important block from Peter Whittingham’s drive straight after the interval, Smithies continued: “His strength is improving and in those physical battles against the big players like Kenwyne Jones that you are going to face in this league he is battling away and is improving in that respect. He has been really solid for us.”

Huddersfield are eight points clear of the bottom three, but this is not something Smithies dwells on.

“Talking about feeling safe is not something that comes into my head,” he continued.

“I’m mainly concerned at looking at the teams in and around us and trying to push up into that top half. That is certainly the target for us.

“We don’t want to get dragged into anything else though you have to be cautious and be aware that teams are fighting for their lives. We will target Reading as a game we can win and will aim to go into two tough away games on a three-game unbeaten run.”

Of his own performances, Smithies added: “It’s important that the less I’m involved the more chance we have of winning the game.

“If you can’t go and win the game, and chances were few and far between for us really, you have just got to say ‘right we’ll keep a clean sheet and take a point but if we nick one we nick one’.

“Ultimately we did not concede and we stayed in the game.”

Huddersfield had made two changes with Jonathan Hogg, who did not put a foot wrong, replacing David Edgar in midfield and Nahki Wells being paired up front with James Vaughan at Bunn’s expense.

Cardiff included Lee Peltier, a January signing from Town, at right-back, but he had to switch to the left when Scott Malone pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Matthew Connolly.

Smithies’s save was matched by David Marshall, who went full length to his left to keep out a back-header from Hudson.

Tommy Smith took a booking for pulling back Jones on the edge of the area as the powerful striker raced through the middle in stoppage time, and after the break Jacob Butterfield fizzed a shot over for Town, but that was as good as it got as the game petered out.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies, Smith, Hudson, Wallace, Robinson; Scannell (Bunn 88), Hogg (Lolley 88), Coady, Butterfield; Vaughan, Wells (Miller 67). Unused substitutes: Murphy, Edgar, Gobern, Majewski.

Cardiff City: Marshall, Peltier, Manga, Morrison, Malone (Connolly 25); Kennedy (McAleny 70), Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Noone; Jones, Doyle (Revell 83). Unused substitutes: Moore, Adeyrmi, O’Keefe, Harris.

Referee: M Heywood (Cheshire).

Man of the match: Murray Wallace.