Huddersfield Town 0 Luton Town 2 - Danny Cowley blasts ‘criminal’ defending

DANNY COWLEY lamented a “criminal” lapse in defensive concentration as Huddersfield Town’s relegation fears were heightened by defeat to bottom-of-the-table Luton Town last night.
Defeat for Huddersfield Town.  Picture Bruce RollinsonDefeat for Huddersfield Town.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Defeat for Huddersfield Town. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Huddersfield had not conceded in their previous three fixtures but the Hatters claimed two second-half goals, from Sonny Bradley and Elliot Lee respectively, to condemn their hosts to defeat.

The loss dragged the Terriers back into the heart of the relegation battle with all the sides below them, barring Luton, still to play this weekend.

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The visitors frustrated their hosts by remaining compact and shielding their goal with a plethora of bodies every time the Terriers advanced into the final third. Huddersfield’s defensive discipline, which had served them well in their previous three games, was on show for the first half, as Luton failed to register a shot at goal.

Chance for Huddersfield Town's Fraizer Campbell. .  Picture Bruce RollinsonChance for Huddersfield Town's Fraizer Campbell. .  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Chance for Huddersfield Town's Fraizer Campbell. . Picture Bruce Rollinson

But, like any good performance away from home, Luton withstood the pressure and were clinical when the opportunities came their way.

Huddersfield remain 19th but the gap between them and the bottom three remains at two points. Bradley’s opener came four minutes into the second half, as he rose above Christopher Schindler to head home from six yards out.

“We knew the significance and importance of the game and we were absolutely nowhere near our levels,” rued Cowley.

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“Luton came with a game-plan, sat behind the ball and made it difficult for us to break them down. We were too slow with our build-up play. We didn’t stretch the pitch enough and make the hard runs.

“The combination play lacked precision, we carried very little attacking threat.

“The first goal was always going to be important in this game and it is just criminal, the goal. It is just an average ball into our box and there is a free header from four yards out. It is undefendable.”

Huddersfield’s lack of cutting edge proved costly, with Emile Smith-Rowe having the only memorable chance of the match for the hosts. With Luton leading by a single goal, the on-loan Arsenal forward showed quick feet to manoeuvre some room inside the area but with the goal at his mercy he fired wide.

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The Terriers have not scored since their 3-0 win over Birmingham and Cowley feels his side are too reliant on top goalscorer Karlan Grant.

“I thought we felt the pressure tonight, we weren’t free enough,” added Cowley.

“I thought the players were nervous this evening, we need to look at that going into our final three games.

“Some of our young players tonight came to the ball too much and they didn’t carry enough goal threat,” said Cowley. “We are too reliant on Karlan. He has obviously scored a lot of goals but other players need to put their hands up.

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“When Karlan can’t get to his levels we need other people to take the pressure off him,” he added.

Luton have been in fine form away from home since the Championship restart.

Despite being on the end of a 5-0 hammering at home to Reading last weekend, on the road the Hatters had beaten Swansea City and drawn with league leaders Leeds United prior to last night’s win.

Cowley credited the visitors’ approach as Huddersfield struggled to create.

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He said: “Luton defended well and it is always the most difficult part of football to break down teams who are organised behind the ball.

“We didn’t execute the counters we did have, we weren’t effective enough.

“Once we allowed them to get organised, there was too much coming to the ball and we never got enough players in the box,” he said.

“If you get enough balls in the box and numbers in the box, then normally you can create something.”

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The defeat saw the Hatters complete a league double over the Terriers – and leapfrog Barnsley at the bottom – with the reverse fixture played almost 12 months ago in August. Huddersfield travel to Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall and host West Bromwich Albion in their final three games.

Depending on results elsewhere this weekend, their fate could be taken out of their own hands, making an already tough task all the more challenging.

Huddersfield Town: Lossl; Toffolo, Stankovic, Schindler, Chalobah; O’Brien (Bacuna 64), Hogg (King 64); Grant, Smith-Rowe, Willock (Pritchard 75); Campbell (Mounie 54). Unused substitutes: Coleman, Kachunga, Stearman, Brown, Duhaney

Luton Town: Sluga; Potts, Bradley, Carter-Vickers, Bree; Ruddock-Mpanzu; Lee (LuaLua 80), Berry, Shinnie (Cranie 90); Cornick (Hylton 80), Collins (McManaman 68). Unused substitutes: Shea, Tunnicliffe, Moncur, Butterfield, Kioso.

Referee: M Donohue (Manchester).

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