Huddersfield Town 1 Carlisle United 1: Clark - it was a fair result

HUDDERSFIELD Town captain Peter Clarke is warning fans it will not be pretty as they attempt to cement a place in the play-offs.

Clarke was the only Town outfield player to show any semblance of top form as they struggled to maintain their unbeaten home league run against a side who would have been forgiven for being distracted by a potential trip to Wembley.

The sides meet again in Cumbria a week tomorrow during what Clarke terms as being a crucial month for Town.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Of more immediate concern is Town's trip to Brighton tomorrow as Carlisle aim to hang on to their one-goal advantage over Leeds in the second leg of the Northern final of the JP Trophy.

Saturday's draw obviously pleased Carlisle chief Greg Abbott more than it did counterpart Lee Clark, the visiting manager stating: "The attitude and commitment of the players today shows that we can compete with the best teams in this division.

"Huddersfield have a better home record than Leeds so we can come and say that we have played the best home team in League One and been unbeaten. That shows that we are capable of getting a result on Tuesday."

Clark confessed: "The whole team played with a bit of nervousness which I don't understand. Playing in front of big crowds is the only way to go. I want the fans to keep expectations high – players have to handle it. They should embrace the pressure and enjoy it."

His captain could understand the frustration of the crowd but said: "The fans are great but we are not going to win by fours, fives, sixes and sevens like we did in the early part of the season.

"There will be more games like today and last week at Yeovil, scrappy games won by odd goals. That's more likely to happen between now and the end of the season than the fours and fives. Teams have seen what happened earlier on and they are setting out to partly spoil things and it gives us a new sort of challenge and one that we have to meet.

"I certainly believe we have a good squad and good players who are not even in the 18. That should be able to get us through the end of the season. Individuals have got to be ready because I am sure everyone will be used.

"You never say never about automatic promotion but maybe the top two are a bit far away but we are quite well placed and we have a run of games this month where we can accumulate a good number of points and hopefully put the pressure on those above us.

"This run of games will give a clearer indication of where ultimately we will be at the end of the season – it is a really important month."

Clarke is now paired with his third central defensive partner of the season, though Neal Trotman's performance fell short of his debut display at Yeovil, leaving Nathan Clarke, no doubt, wondering why he has been axed.

His brother, Tom, was sacrificed at half-time after a fine tackling stint in midfield as Clark attempted to instil some tempo into his side by introducing play-maker Danny Drinkwater – a header against the bar by Danny Livesey from a corner being the closest either side had gone.

It did help but Town obviously missed the box-to-box play of the injured Michael Collins, even though it took them just five minutes after the break to strike, Gary Roberts chipping the ball into the area for the recalled Anthony Pilkington to beat Adam Collin with a flick header.

Carlisle, who withdrew at the interval centre-back and top scorer Ian Harte with a tight hamstring as a precaution ahead of the game against his former Leeds team-mates, had employed a 4-5-1 formation but switched to 4-4-2 when they gave dominant midfield performer Graham Kavanagh a rest. The ploy worked, a diving close-range header from substitute Scott Dobie being brilliantly tipped over by Alex Smithies before Carlisle, whose counter-attacking speed had caused problems throughout, again went down the left and Matty Robson pulled the ball back to give substitute Ben Marshall an 83rd-minute simple tap-in.

Both side had penalty claims rejected and Town could point to wasted opportunities by new Liverpool loan striker Nathan Eccleston, whose pace is going to trouble many sides, and Pilkington. But even allowing for the fact that it will take time for the newcomers to bed in – Australian international left-back Dean Heffernan being the third home debutant – Clark's men will have to raise their game just to break back into the top six.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies, Peltier, Trotman, P Clarke, Heffernan (Williams 75); Pilkington, Kay, T Clarke (Drinkwater 46), Roberts; Rhodes (Simpson 63), Eccleston. Unused substitutes: Eastwood, Novak, Pearce, N Clarke.

Carlisle United: Collin, Keogh, Livesey, Harte (Murphy 46), Horwood; Hurst (Marshall 61), Kavanagh (Dobie 61), Thirlwell, Clayton, Robson; Duffy. Unused substitutes: Pidgeley, Bridge-Wilkinson, Taiwo, Madine.

Referee: D Phillips (Sussex).

MATCH FOCUS

Hero: Peter Clarke

The Town captain and central defender was, and needed to be, on top of his game, especially in the second half as colleagues all too often found themselves out of position or letting their concentration slip.

Villain: Ian Harte

Booed for his Leeds links by Town fans, who will make him a hero if he plays a part in helping Carlisle defeat their enemies from Elland Road in tomorrow night's JP Trophy Northern final second leg.

Key moment

90th minute: Town break four on two but Anthony Pilkington hits a weak shot straight at Adam Collin.

Ref watch

David Phillis: Was obviously not going to make any contentious decisions in favour of the aggrieved party.

Verdict

This was a sloppy, error-strewn performance by Town, who could so easily have surrendered their unbeaten home League record.

Next game

Brighton & HA v Huddersfield Town, League One, tomorrow, 7.45.

Quote of the day

We are a bit too up and down at the minute. We are not getting a consistent run of form from people. We need to find consistency.

– Frustrated Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark.

This season the Yorkshire Post has an exciting new match-day service, called Match Centre. Here you will find minute-by-minute updates, stats and team formations. Plus reports from every game in England, from the Premier League down to the Blue Square Premier.

Simply select your game from the pull down menu, then click on the 'i' information button on the right of the fixture and it will give you access to everything you need to know about your team.

So if you can't make it to a game, head for the Match Centre and we will give you the best seat in the house. Click the link below.

For the latest team news, score and commentary from your team check out our new Match Centre