Huddersfield Town 0 Ipswich Town 0: Dixon picks up gauntlet thrown down by Robins

Huddersfield's Theo Robinson and Anthony Gerrard challenge Ipswich's Luke Chambers for the ball.Huddersfield's Theo Robinson and Anthony Gerrard challenge Ipswich's Luke Chambers for the ball.
Huddersfield's Theo Robinson and Anthony Gerrard challenge Ipswich's Luke Chambers for the ball.
MARK ROBINS has challenged his squad to provide plenty of selection headaches in the run-in towards safety.

Changes were obviously going to come after a 6-1 midweek thrashing at Nottingham Forest followed their 4-1 FA Cup exit to Wigan and those Robins made for his first home league game in charge should have brought three points.

Poor finishing underlined how much they are missing injured goal-poacher Jermaine Beckford and it must have been particularly exasperating for Robins that the man he brought back to Town, Theo Robinson, fluffed their best opportunity.

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On a more positive note, Town kept a clean sheet, moved up a place and the new-look defence combined well, much to the delight of recalled left-back Paul Dixon.

The 26-year-old Scotland international was given his first league start in six games as Calum Woods switched to the right as crowd-pleaser Jack Hunt was dropped.

Dixon, who has played for both Dundee clubs, said: “It’s very pleasing to come back in. I have sat out for a few weeks now and I was happy how I played. A point is better than none and on another day we would also have taken our chances.

“The most important thing after what happened on Tuesday was to keep a clean sheet and build from there.

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“I think that win is on the cards as long as we keep the door shut at the back.

“Nobody’s place is certain as it’s shown with me. Calum, a natural right-footer, has been playing at left-back so I got my head down and worked hard and have been given my chance again.

“Obviously, it is a clean sheet for everybody under the new manager because he doesn’t really know the players as such so he says the team selection will be driven by us and that is all you need.”

Robins, who also replaced Joel Lynch at centre-back with Anthony Gerrard and gave Oscar Gobern his first start since the opening day of the season, since when he has undergone an ankle operation, explained his decision to drop Hunt, who has been scouted by Premier League clubs.

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“I see what I see and today it was right to do what I did. As far as Jack is concerned, he is a youngster making his way in the game. It doesn’t matter what age you are but you have to have consistent performances. At this stage of the season, I am looking for consistency, reliability and a bit of quality and if you fall into that bracket then you will generally find yourself in the team.”

Robins switched formation, too, with Adam Clayton, whose second-half exit to give Hunt a run on the right was greeted with boos, initially playing behind striker James Vaughan and with Lee Novak and Scott Arfield on the flanks.

Both sides were hampered by the poor quality of the pitch, the state of which can not have been helped by Town continually training on it as well as it being used by the Giants rugby league team.

It resulted in Town hitting too many long balls in the second half, something which Robins could understand but which also annoyed him.

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Although they had gone six Championship games unbeaten at home, perhaps it was their anxiety to get three points that resulted in Town snatching at their chances.

Novak had the best in the first period when he raced onto Clayton’s ball over the top but hit wide.

Five minutes after the break, Novak burst between the centre-backs onto a long ball from Peter Clarke but Stephen Henderson raced out to beat the shot away before blocking the follow-up from Neil Danns.

Robinson, who hit 16 goals in 43 appearances in his first spell for Town before joining Millwall for £300,000 in 2010, should have been the hero after coming on just before the hour mark. Signed on loan from Derby until the end of the season, Robinson looked certain to net from close range as Vaughan hooked the ball into the area but his first attempt was a fresh-air shot and Tommy Smith knocked the ball for a corner before the striker could grab his second chance in the 72nd minute.

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Ipswich did not get a shot on target until the 74th minute, captain Clarke having lived up to the stadium sponsors’ catch-phrase with some no-nonsense defending, even though they had employed a 4-4-2 rather than a more defensive formation.

Not surprisingly, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy was happy with a point but succinctly summed up the game saying: “Two bang ordinary teams playing on a lousy pitch.

“Playing on a difficult surface is not going to help them but we are both nervous playing at the wrong end of the table. It doesn’t promote free-flowing football with all those circumstances so I’ll take the point – I’ve never had a bad point away from home.

“I wouldn’t even have got on the bus if we’d been offered a point beforehand. It would have saved four-and-a-half hours travelling here.

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“I apologise for the standard of football you have just watched but I’m not going to apologise for getting a point away from home. No way. That point might help us stay up.”

Huddersfield Town: Smithies, Woods, Clarke, Gerrard, Dixon; Arfield, Danns, Gobern (Scannell 64), Novak (Robinson 59); Clayton (Hunt 76); Vaughan. Unused substitutes: Bennett, Norwood, Lynch, Wallace.

Ipswich Town: Henderson, Stearman, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell; Edwards, Hyam, N’Daw, Martin (Drury 78); Chopra (Nouble 84), McGoldrick (Murphy 55). Unused substitutes: Loach, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, McLean.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Man of the match: Peter Clarke.