Huddersfield Town lack some things, but possess the most important quality - final word on Terriers' draw with Southampton

A GOOD football man who has done it tough of late, Darren Moore looked understandably exhausted when he spoke to the press after Saturday’s game.

His caring players were not far behind when they left the pitch a bit earlier and were with him. They also probably know what is to come.

Huddersfield Town, under the pump, have had plenty thrown at them recently. Ahead of the second half, it looked like things would get worse before getting better, but those in blue and white summoned up a stirring response which said plenty about their heart and character and what Moore has got to work with in the dressing room.

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It’s by no means perfect and he is significantly down on numbers, but he has good people and that’s a start.

His Town side have won once in ten games under his watch, yet there are mitigating circumstances.

A punishing injury count - eight players were missing on Saturday and by the midway point of the second half, it was up to double figures - being one.

Moore named just seven replacements on his bench at the weekend. Compare and contrast with what his opposite number Russell Martin had at his disposal and it was frankly embarrassing. Martin’s substitutes included six full senior internationals.

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An inadequate summer window, before he was around, is another significant factor. Those within the HD postcode area may be counting down the days until Christmas, but Moore is more bothered about January 1 and hopefully replenishing his numbers as soon as possible.

Huddersfield Town manager Darren Moore.Huddersfield Town manager Darren Moore.
Huddersfield Town manager Darren Moore.

Town needed a break and they got one late on when Ben Jackson’s cross-cum-shot avoided everyone before joyously nestling in the corner of the net.

Slightly fortunate maybe, but thoroughly deserved.

It secured a hard-earned, but well-earned point which no-one on the south coast could quibble with. In fairness Martin, watching on from the main stand due to a one-match touchline ban, didn’t afterwards. It was coming, he said and he was right.

A victory for the small man and how three-quarters of the John Smith’s Stadium rejoiced after a blast of warmth was provided on a cold afternoon at the start of winter.

An hour or so earlier and it was rather more troubled.

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There were groans when Town got themselves in a promising first-half position on the attack, only to play the ball back into their own half due to a lack of options.

Another telling moment saw Josh Koroma get the better of creaking centre-half Jan Bednarek and call for support. The cavalry did not arrive and it was ‘the General’ who finally made an appearance in Jonathan Hogg, but Southampton regrouped.

A quorum of Cowshed ultras kept with their side, commendably. Some jeers arrived at the interval from across home sections - Saints had taken the lead not long before, courtesy of Adam Armstrong - but on the resumption, the Terriers’ nation bought into Town’s hearty efforts and it was uplifting to see.

It was like greeting an old friend.

Town - who lost Kian Harratt and Jaheim Headley to injury issues on the day - travel to Sunderland on Wednesday, the first of nine games in slightly over a month and they must somehow find the wherewithal to go again. And then again.

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Next weekend, they make the long trek to Swansea and call in at Millwall and Norwich before Christmas.

Four teams who probably count themselves to be in the play-off picture in Bristol City, Preston, Blackburn and Middlesbrough visit the John Smith's before the year is out ahead of Town starting the new one at leaders Leicester.

Before the game, Moore - with just one win in his previous nine matches in charges - spoke about how work on the training ground had centred on Town trying to make ‘marginal gains’ after unapologetically focusing on making themselves organised, resolute and hard to beat in the previous games against Hull and Watford.

In the first half, there was not much evidence of incremental improvement on the offensive front, even if the effort certainly could not be faulted.

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Southampton, who boasted a huge 82 per cent possession count in the opening half, found their legs eventually and knocked on the door when Stuart Armstrong rattled the post with a stinging drive and Will Smallbone tested the reactions of Chris Maxwell, who enjoyed a sound league debut in goal in the absence of Lee Nicholls.

A delicate close-range finish from Adam Armstrong, who delicately prodded in his namesake’s hooked cross moments before the break, confirmed Saints’ superiority. That would be that, then. But not so.

Just like Leeds on the previous night at Rotherham, Southampton got complacent and dropped their intensity in the second half and Town were all over it.

There were a few thrills and spills before Jackson's cross from the right deceived everyone ahead of creeping into the net. Not a bad time to register your first goal at the John Smith's Stadium, for sure.

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Huddersfield Town: Maxwell; Jackson, Pearson, Helik, Lees, Headley (Burgzorg 66); Kasumu (Edmonds-Green 73), Hogg, Thomas; Koroma (Diarra 73), Harratt (Nakayama 21). Unused substitutes: Chapman, Edwards, Austerfield.

Southampton: Bazuna; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Bree (Manning 80); S Armstrong (Stewart 80), Smallbone (Adams 89), Downes, Fraser (Charles 80); Sulemana (Edozie 56), A Armstrong. Unused substitutes: McCarthy, Holgate, Aribo, Alcaraz.

Referee: D Webb (Co.Durham).