There had been a big dollop of good fortune in Huddersfield Town taking the lead in last night’s televised Championship game, but they brought the Potters’ response on themselves.
Huddersfield went into the game having dropped 10 points this season from winning positions and rather than make the most of the good fortune Josh Koroma’s deflected shot afforded them, they invited pressure which was inevitably going to tell in the end.
“Only fools rush in,” blared out over the tannoy at full-time but Huddersfield overdid the caution and paid for it with a 1-1 draw.
With Jonathan Hogg throwing up on the pitch in the second half and simply playing on, you could not question their commitment to play, but their commitment to attack was sadly lacking.
For all the pressure Stoke had, goalkeeper Lee Nicholls had a reasonably quiet shift at the start of the second half but Town were just not doing enough to relieve their back four when they had the ball. By the time they gave much thought to causing problems at the other end, it was too late. Their luck had run out and there was not much time left either.
The point kept Huddersfield in the Championship play-off places for now, but they will have to show a bit more than this to stay there. Still, even being regular visitors is an achievements considering the much more modest ambitions most people had for them at the start of the season.
Having good fortune is not against the rules – no team can be successful without it but the best ones cash in when they do, Huddersfield did not seem to believe their luck against a good team below them in the table.
Koroma was in the thick of it from the start, linking well with Lewis O’Brien from the left of a characteristic Huddersfield 3-4-2-1 that soon became a 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to deal with Stoke City’s 3-3-3-1. Koroma shot straight at Jack Bonham early on, then produced a wild shot which the keeper did not need to worry about.
It was nothing like as wild as his 21st-minute tackle on the kneecap of Taylor Harwood-Bellis which referee Gavin Ward ought to have been well-placed to see but somehow he and his linesman missed.
Inevitably, six minutes later it was Koroma who gave his side the lead, his shot deflecting off the left foot of Ben Wilmot to loop in.
Two minutes later Huddersfield got lucky again, Tom Lees clattering Tyrese Campbell with an “I got there as soon as I could tackle” in the penalty area. Once again, Ward waved play on.
Matty Pearson, normally so reliable at the back, was caught out a couple of times in the first half, firstly at 0-0 when he tried to shepherd the ball out and was robbed by former Sheffield Wednesday centre-forward Steven Fletcher. The move ended with Nicholls tipping over from Mario Vrancic.
He had to make a low save after 32 minutes when Pearson lost a 50-50 to Campbell.
Huddersfield had more chances too, Bonham spilling a corner but redeeming himself by smothering Koroma’s attempt to put the loose ball in and Ollie Turton playing a lovely ball out to Sorba Thomas – still on the left from that corner – and Danny Ward touching the cross just wide.
Huddersfield had another stroke of luck when the ever-dangerous Vrancic hobbled off in a bad way after a clash of knees with Harry Toffolo, although such is the strength of Stoke’s squad they had Nick Powell to come on for him so it was hardly a moment to get the violins out.
All the action was at Huddersfield’s end for too much of the second period but a 68th-minute Lewis Baker shot was the first to really trouble Nicholls – physically too, it seemed, although like Hogg, he played on. A couple of minutes later a shot deflected comfortably into his midriff. But this was not a Friday night television plot which was hard to second-guess.
Coach Carlos Corberan’s use of substitutes – Duane Homes for Koroma, Jordan Rhodes for Ward showed he recognised the problems, albeit slowly.
In the 79th minute Jaden Philogene-Bidace hit the post, Campbell’s follow-up was blocked and former Barnsley player Jacob Brown, on as a substitute, made it third time lucky to level the scores.
Then, finally, Huddersfield tried to play again, Holmes shooting wide, fellow substitute Scott High floating a shot towards the top corner without the venom to beat Bonham, both in stoppage time..
It was too little, far too late from the hosts.
Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton, Pearson, Lees; Thomas, Hogg, O’Brien, Toffolo; Sinani (High 80), Koroma (Holmes 72); Ward (Rhodes 72). Unused substitutes: Ruffels, Sarr, Russell, Bilokapic.
Stoke City: Bonham; Harwood-Bellis, Jagielka, Wilmot; Baker, Thompson (Allen 46), Tymon; Campbell, Vrancic (Powell 58), Philogene-Bidace; Fletcher (Brown 63). Unused substitutes: Smith, Clucas, Fielding, Wright-Phillips.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).