Huddersfield Town in need of a boost after spurning chances in 1-0 defeat to Millwall
These are tough times for the Terriers after an encouraging start to the season.
The pitches are becoming heavy and they could have done without the turf taking a dowsing as they were trying to play their passing game against Millwall. The loan signing of Ajax's Carel Eiting had been bit of a coup but now he has undergone knee surgery, the midfield looks short of guile without him.
Richard Keogh plugged the gap left by a spate of injuries at centre-back, but still it was disruption Town could have done without. Despite Carlos Corberan's pre-match talk of the new signing arriving with "minutes in his legs", he did not have quite enough to make it to last night's finishing line.
When something extra was needed from the bench,Corberan's cupboard was pretty bare.
A transfer or two would not go amiss.
Despite their struggles, and despite going behind after four minutes, Huddersfield still managed to make good chances to score, and not only Fraizer Campbell's missed penalty. Once that was hammered against the crossbar, after only 16 minutes, few people inside the John Smith's Stadium seemed to believe the home side would score.
So it proved.
Huddersfield looked short of confidence and defensively disorganised in a first half where they went behind very early on, Scott Malone popping up unmarked at the far post to tuck the ball away after the Terriers failed to deal with Dan McNamara's cross.
Battling against heavy rain and a pitch that was having to suck it up – Millwall were too, of course – a Town side who had lost four of their last five matches looked flustered and low on self-belief. Coach Corberan in his usual skinny beige chinos was more animated than usual, Harry Toffolo furious when he demanded his team-mates “Get it wide!” It took about 40 minutes to work out that playing goalkicks short to a centre-back inside the six-yard box was not the way to go.
Not only was the midfield diamond the hosts started with not forever, it did not last 10 minutes before Rolando Aarons was pushed from the hole into a more usual wide position, Juninho Bacuna giving width on the other side.
Whatever his midfield role, Lewis O'Brien was at least in good form and when Ben Thompson got the wrong side of him as he galloped onto an Aarons pass, Campbell was given the chance to equalise from the penalty spot. He smashed it against the crossbar and was soon limping sorrowfully, though not for long.
For all that they were defending poorly, Huddersfield made chances of their own, Alex Vallejo failing to control a volley, then seeing a shot charged down and deflected behind for a corner.
O'Brien played a wonderful pass to Bacuna who despite not being at an ideal angle, ought to have hit the target rather than thumping beyond it. When another ball released Toffolo, Bartosz Bialkowski had to make the save of the half low down from Danny Ward, making only his third Championship start since returning to the club.
If Corberan is to play two strikers, it is either Campbell and Ward or square pegs in round holes, like Wards' second-half replacement Isaac Mbenza. At least for now, the attacking players brought in this month appear destined for B team football.
Millwall missed an excellent chance of their own, Shaun Hutchinson heading wide a corner the Lions would have had if referee Peter Bankes not corrected his bad error in awarding a goalkick when the ball clearly came off the sliding Naby Sarr.
Pipa did extremely well just before the hour to skip away from a challenge and play the ball into Aarons, who shifted it out of his feet, but shot horribly wide.
After Ryan Leonard had a goal disallowed at the end of some penalty-area ping pong, Sarr missed a guilt-edged opportunity, contorting his left foot to a ball falling nicely for his right at a corner. From so close to goal with no one in his path, he should have put it in with either.
Even O'Brien was guilty, heading wide at Alex Pritchard's corner in the fourth added minute.
That would be his team's lot – working hard enough but in desperate need of a bit of a spark.
Huddersfield Town: Schofield; Pipa, Keogh (Pritchard 85), Sarr, Toffolo; Vallejo; Bacuna (Phillips 75), O'Brien, Aarons (Jones 68); Ward (Mbenza 60), Campbell.
Unused substitutes: Duhaney, Crichlow, Brown, Pereira, High.
Millwall: Bialkowski; Leonard, Hutchinson, Cooper; McNamara (Romeo 75), Thompson, Woods, Williams (Ferguson 75), Malone; J Wallace (Bradshaw 75), Bodvarsson (Zohore 75),.
Unused substitutes: Fielding, Smith, Pearce, Bennett, Parrott.
Referee: P Bankes (Merseyside).
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