Huddersfield Town 1 QPR 1: Dubliner was destined to wear shirt as Town show their mettle

Young Irishman Jake Carroll never dreamt he would be locking arms with players of Premier League quality as he sat at home watching Match of the Day.

Town's Martin Paterson watches his shot beat QPR keeper Paul Green but goes agonisingly wide of the post

But that is where the Dubliner found himself as he made his home Championship bow against relegated QPR, six years after donning his first Huddersfield shirt.

Just 24 hours before his 22nd birthday, the former Airtricity League St Patrick’s Athletic defender admitted after Town had claimed a point in a match which could have gone either way: “I know I have been playing against some millionaire footballers today. It was only last year that I was watching Joey Barton on television and I never imagined a year later I would be playing against him so it’s been great.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Explaining how he got picked up by the club, Carroll had an intriguing tale to tell.

“I was playing at home with my youth team at 16 and a fella came over – I don’t know who he was –and gave us Huddersfield jerseys. That was strange because I had never even heard of Huddersfield Town then but I had a Huddersfield jersey on. So it’s certainly strange how things have turned out.”

Carroll thought, however, his opportunity to join the club had gone when he continued: “They came to watch my team back home, St Pat’s in Dublin – we get quite a few coming to watch – and was offered a trial last season when Simon Grayson was manager but he got sacked while I was training with the club.

“Luckily enough, though, I got another trial when Mark Robins came in and gave me a chance.

“I’ve loved my time here so far. I’m surprised how well I’ve done but I had a good pre-season.

“I have found the transition quite comfortable though the pace is a lot faster. It’s full on for 90 minutes so I will have to get used to that.

“It’s a good standard back home but it lacks the finance and the crowds really. Over there, the fans are more interested in the Premiership over here but the standard is around League One and, even then, we have European qualifiers and stuff like that.”

Explaining what possibly caught the Town scouting staff’s eyes, Carroll added: “The manager has encouraged us all to pass the ball at all times and that is what I was used to at St Pat’s anyway and it may be one reason why they signed me. I have always played full-back but I will play anywhere to get a game.

“I have not played international level since 18 but when you get past that level you have to be playing over here to be noticed and hopefully this move will help.”

Personal ambition aside, Carroll says everyone at Town is anxious to avoid a finale like last season when they could have been relegated on the final day.

“None of us want to struggle like we did last season. There are some good characters in the dressing room, some loud lads, especially the Scousers, but I have found everyone in Yorkshire really friendly.

“We have played two of the top sides now and felt we were unlucky not to get anything at Nottingham Forest and today it is a disappointed dressing room, to be honest, just because of the poor way we conceded the goal.

“We also had chances to score more goals at the end so it’s disappointing not to take three points.”

His captain, Peter Clarke, said of the new arrival: “Jake has come in and is enjoying being in the side and there is plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s a test of character and if you are going to be involved in this environment then you can’t be over-awed by anyone. It’s a simple as that really. He’s got to learn and learn quickly.”

Carroll found himself substituted after the hour-mark when manager Robins made tactical changes as QPR’s Junior Hoilett began to prove an increasing menace down the left, exposing the defensive limitations of Adam Hammill as a wing-back.

Jack Hunt was brought on as Robins switched to a flat back four, moving the attack-minded Hammill across to the left for Carroll.

Ironically, it had been Hammill’s willingness to track back which had let to the opening goal of Town’s Championship campaign.

Hammill retrieved possession, took a return pass down the flank, showed strength to hold off Esteban Granero before back-tracking and knocking the ball inside for Oliver Norwood to dink a cross which James Vaughan raced onto and force home from inside the six-yard area, to make it three goals in a week after his Capital One Cup brace which had sunk last season’s finalists Bradford City.

Town’s 35th-minute lead lasted only three minutes as Yun Suk-Young was fortunate to get a second opportunity to cross and watch the ball drop invitingly beyond Norwood for Hoilett to prod home.

If Hunt’s introduction could be said to be with defence in mind, all the other changes were attack-minded as both sides went for the jugular.

Oscar Gobern, who had excelled as a sitting midfielder in place of illness victim Jonathan Hogg, was sacrificed for Sean Scannell and the winger almost won it for Town in the last minute when he poked the ball inches wide.

However, Jermaine Jenas also went close in stoppage time after his introduction and Town goalkeeper Alex Smithies had to be on top of his game as Barton, moved inside, began to dictate in central midfield.

Former Burnley striker Charlie Austin was also a threat but a glancing header against the bar was the closest the £4m man came.

However, Town’s strong spine of Smithies, Anthony Gerrard, Gobern and Vaughan showed they have the backbone for a sustained fight.