Huddersfield Town 1 Birmingham City 1: Terriers reach the end of the Championship road and are effectively relegated

BIRMINGHAM City fans’ most famous song is ‘Keep Right On To The End of the Road.’

For Huddersfield Town, they have reached the end of their Championship road and will leave the second tier and return to League One at the end of the season.

Forget the maths, Town are good.

In keeping with their season, it had to be a draw which sent them over the cliff edge. They are down due to the fact that Plymouth’s goal difference is vastly superior.

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Huddersfield Town's Rhys Healey (obscured) scores their side's leveller during the Sky Bet Championship match versus Birmingham City at the John Smith's Stadium. Picture: Jess Hornby/PA Wire.Huddersfield Town's Rhys Healey (obscured) scores their side's leveller during the Sky Bet Championship match versus Birmingham City at the John Smith's Stadium. Picture: Jess Hornby/PA Wire.
Huddersfield Town's Rhys Healey (obscured) scores their side's leveller during the Sky Bet Championship match versus Birmingham City at the John Smith's Stadium. Picture: Jess Hornby/PA Wire.

They have drawn 18 games this term. The stark statistic is that they have won just nine times.

They have also won just once in their last 11 matches. Not enough.

A Rhys Healey goal early in the second period gave them hope to cancel out Koji Miyoshi’s opener just ahead of the break.

They tried all they could to grab a priceless winner, but it would not come. It’s all over and Town can have no complaints at their demotion. They simply have not been consistently good enough in the final analysis.

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The impression that one mistake or moment of magic - probably the former, in truth - might potentially settle this low-grade, largely sterile football match increased as the clock ticked on at the John Smith’s Stadium in the first half.

In the event, it arrived on the stroke of half-time from Miyoshi.

Keshi Anderson manufactured enough space on the left to send over a half-decent cross. Brodie Spencer clocked off at the far post and Miyoshi, who displayed a semblance of danger throughout the half, nipped in and steered the ball into the opposite corner.

It was a huge moment in the context of the game and the season for both sides, with Sheffield Wednesday winning their match at half-time at Hillsborough.

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In their game of need, Town did run, but lacked wit and attacking imagination, not for the first time this season - make that a lot.

Blues weren’t much better, but contrived a potential game-breaker, while at the interval, Town were staring League One in the face and looking like going down at a whimper after conceding a sloppy goal in a nothing half.

Danny Ward, Ollie Turton and Rhys Healey were promoted to the starting line-up, with Sorba Thomas and Delano Burgzorg dropping to the bench and being the fall-guys after Swansea.

The hosts created little. Michal Helik stuck out a leg after being picked out early on by David Kasumu, while their best moment came when Jack Rudoni, unmarked, fired a downward volley just over following a lob into the danger zone by Alex Matos.

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Town huffed and puffed, but looked like a side who had lost their attacking mojo.

Blues’ best early chance saw Andersen drag a shot wide when well placed while later on in the half, ex-Terriers midfielder Juninho Bacuna planted a free header over from Paik’s outswinging corner.

The season was on the line in the second half for Town and they were revived at an early juncture. They were better on the restart.

Following a quick throw-in, Blues switched off down their right this time and Rudoni surged clear and his centre was finished off in calm fashion by Healey. How Town needed that.

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Moments later, the striker was in again from Josh Koroma’s header, but Ruddy raced out as Town suddenly scented blood and got their punters re-engaged and re-energised.

With the Owls looking good 30 minutes away, Town were anxious for their side to do their bit, while hoping for a favour from Millwall against Plymouth in the capital. That eventually happened, but Huddersfield needed to do their bit.

Blues looked nervy. Their nerves could have been soothed had Jay Stansfield not spurned a huge chance to put them back in front.

Sloppiness from Turton was seized upon by Miyoshi, who fed Stansfield, whose angled shot flew inches wide of the far post.

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At the other end, Ruddy denied Helik, who increasingly got forward in a bid to add a key goal to his impressive seasonal haul of nine. None would have been bigger.

The stakes couldn’t have been higher for both sides. Who would push ahead and grab a priceless winner?

Bojan Radulovic came on to add another forward option for Town.

In the event, it was another striker in Ward, who went desperately close to putting Town back in front with his curler flying inches wide, with his anguish there for all to see.

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It got desperate for both sides as the clock ticked. Dembele fired over after giving Pearson the slip.

The goal that most of the crowd wanted to go in would not at the other end.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Pearson, Helik, Spencer; Turton (Radulovic 79), Matos (Wiles 68), Kasumu, Rudoni, Koroma (Thomas 58); Healey, Ward. Unused substitutes: Maxwell, Burgzorg, Headley, Edwards, Jackson, Iorpenda.

Birmingham City: Ruddy; Laird, Bielik, Sanderson, Buchanan; Paik, Sunjic (Jutkiewicz 77); Miyoshi (Pritchard 77), Bacuna (Dembele 64), Anderson (M Roberts 77); Stansfield. Unused substitutes: Etheridge, T Roberts, James, Gardner, Hall.

Referee: M Donohue (Greater Manchester).

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