Huddersfield Town 3 Charlton 1: Clark sees Terriers play through the pressure

A TENDENCY to drop points against their main promotion rivals is arguably why Huddersfield Town ended last season condemned to at least another 12 months in League One.

In ten meetings with the other sides that finished in the top six, Lee Clark's men claimed just one win and four draws.

With Town finishing just six points behind Leeds United in the second automatic promotion place, there were more than a few people in Huddersfield who spent the summer wondering 'what if?'

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It is a feeling chairman Dean Hoyle alluded to in his programme notes for Saturday's visit of Charlton Athletic, adding how a desire to improve the return against the top clubs had been the driving force behind the summer recruitment that has seen ten new faces arrive since last May's play-off defeat to Millwall.

Five of those signings were named in the starting line-up against Charlton, with another quartet having to be content with a place on the bench.

And it seems the influx of experience is already paying dividends with the Terriers having claimed a first major scalp of the season.

Against Charlton, Town were far from being at their most fluent with Phil Parkinson even claiming afterwards his side had deserved a point.

But what Clark''s men did display was a ruthless streak against a team who seem destined to feature prominently in the promotion race.

Certainly, the Huddersfield manager was pleased with his players' efforts in claiming a first home win of the season.

Clark said: "I thought it was a proper Huddersfield Town performance. I thought it was high-intensity and high-tempo.

"There was a little bit of an edge to it in the first 15 minutes. But we got to grips with it and took the game to Charlton.

"We have to average two points a game to make the top two. It isn't going to be easy because there are other teams that will challenge.

"But, over the course of the season, we will be right in there because we have good players."

Charlton, also beaten in last season's play-offs, had started the afternoon positively with Kyel Reid looking a real threat down the left flank.

The former Sheffield United winger was presented with an early chance inside three minutes by a weak clearance only to fluff his shot.

Alan McCormack then wasted an excellent opening with a weak header after being picked out by Lee Martin.

Gradually, however, Huddersfield started to exert more and more control with debutant Alan Lee bringing a fine save from Ross Worner and Graham Carey shooting wide after finding space in the Charlton area.

The breakthrough came on 39 minutes thanks to a stunning pass from inside his own half by Gary Roberts.

He spotted the clever run of Jordan Rhodes and duly delivered an inch-perfect pass that caused sufficient indecision in Worner that the Charlton goalkeeper did not know whether to race from his line or not.

In the end, he did neither and Rhodes delicately lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Less than a minute later, Worner, clearly rattled by having been caught in a footballing no-man's land, clattered Rhodes to the ground only for referee Graham Salisbury to wave play-on.

It was such a contentious decision that the Lancashire official was immediately surrounded by seven Huddersfield players.

Their appeals were in vain, though justice would be done within moments of the resulting corner being taken as the home side doubled their advantage.

Once again, it was a stunning delivery from the left flank by Carey that found Jamie McCombe unmarked and the big defender made no mistake with a firm header.

With the Charlton players in danger of allowing their frustrations at conceding twice in quick succession to boil over, the half-time whistle came as a blessing to the visitors.

Parkinson's men did improve once the game had restarted and Reid again went close with a stinging drive that flew just wide of the post.

Town were then handed a let-off by their former striker Pawel Abbott, who dragged a shot wide after being played in behind the home defence with nine minutes remaining.

And they made the Poland Under-21 international pay for his profligacy when, less than 60 seconds later, Roberts swept an inviting cross from Carey past Worner to seal the points.

There was still time for Charlton to grab a late consolation when substitute Matt Fry's shot was deflected past goalkeeper Alex Smithies.

But there was to be no denying Town, who can take enormous encouragement from having claimed all three points off a side who seem likely to be among the front-runners for promotion.

Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Arfield, P Clarke, McCombe, Ridehalgh; Roberts, Gudjonsson, Kay, Carey; Lee (Garner 88), Rhodes Novak 68). Unused substitutes: Bennett, Johnson, Croft, Atkinson, Goodwin.

Charlton Athletic: Worner; Francis, Doherty, Dailly, Jackson (Fry 89); Wagstaff (A Sodje 71), Semedo, McCormack, Reid; Abbott, Martin. Unused substitutes: Elliot, Llera, Racon, Mambo, Tuna.

Referee: G Salisbury (Lancs).