The life of the late, great Frank Worthington was remembered along with another former Town player in Derek Hawksworth, who also passed away recently.
On the pitch, the sight of a Huddersfield side making life difficult for promotion-chasing Brentford – just as they did on their last appearance at the John Smith’s Stadium in January, 2020 – was a welcome rewind, as was the sight of Lewis O’Brien, who was back to his buccaneering best.
At the heartbeat of everything good from the Terriers in a testing 2019-20 campaign, the 22-year-old retraced those steps against the Bees.
He scored a goal and could – and should – have been awarded a penalty, while confirming his status as one of the class midfield acts in the Championship, covering every blade of grass for the blue and white and giving opponents something to think about.
Brought up in Rochdale, O’Brien’s boyhood club Manchester City also play in those colours. Their business is trophies – with City in the mix for a quadruple.Town will kindly settle for securing their Championship status.
Should they continue to play with the spirit, togetherness and organisation that they displayed against a very capable Bees side, that should take care of itself.
O’Brien said: “My dad has been a (City) fan all his life and we would go to all the games, I have still got a season ticket. I was four when I first watched a game, Richard Dunne was at centre back.
“From 2010 when the big players started coming, the way they played was fantastic. Playing football myself, it made me want to play that way. Watching some of the best players in the world can help you improve.
“Back then, my favourite was David Silva, but now Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.
“We play differently to them, but Gundogan is one of the best to look at, probably the best midfield player in the league at the moment. I have been watching him and trying to pick things up, especially the scoring.”
O’Brien seventh-minute strike and third goal of the campaign may have owed a fair bit to the wonky radar of Brentford custodian David Raya, but it was still enterprising and emblematic of Town’s stirring opening.
Alex Vallejo hunted down Christian Norsgaard, who was played into trouble by an errant pass infield from Mads Roerslav.
O’Brien seized on the loose ball and with Raya in a terrible position after initially looking like he would take control of the situation and clear his lines before Roerslav gained possession, the midfielder tucked the ball home tidily from distance.
It gave Town a platform. Operating on the left in a 4-2-3-1 formation, O’Brien and his cohorts were quick in the press, with a rusty Brentford side taking time to work Huddersfield out. Once they did, they gave Town a bit to think about, but the hosts’ application could not be faulted.
They had to withstand pressure after the Londoners’ levelled early in the second half through Mads Bech Sorensen, but this was no onslaught. At the other end, the hosts could even have nicked a win themselves.
After a gutsy point in their last home game with Cardiff, this was a refreshing encore. Town are five matches unbeaten and still have hills to climb to complete their safety mission for a second year, but this was a draw that most would have taken beforehand.
On his strike, O’Brien, who also felt that he should have been awarded a penalty after being caught by Saman Ghoddos in the second period, said: “I don’t think many expected me to take a shot with my right foot for the goal, but I thought it was the best time to take it and caught the keeper out.
“I think it is more experience, but a bit of confidence too when you get into those areas. Last season, I didn’t probably shoot as much as I should have.
“In that situation before, I might have passed, but have more confidence and experience when I get into those situations now.
“We worked hard during the week on trying to press a team that likes to play out from the back and it worked for the goal.”
As for the penalty incident, he continued: “I am not a player who goes down easily, but I felt contact and I should have had a penalty.”
In truth, the penalty situation evened itself out, with Town fortunate not to concede one after Naby Sarr was not penalised for clumsily handling in the first half.
Sarr was more on-message in making a brilliant goalline clearance to keep out Pontus Jansson’s point-blank header from a cross from Sergi Canos after Town were caught cold from a throw-in.
Unfortunately, the ball was recycled and Vitaly Janelt set up Sorensen for a close-range leveller.
Moments after, 28-goal striker Ivan Toney saw his thumping drive hit the post, but it was the closest the Bees came to a winner, which nearly arrived at the other end when Demeaco Duhaney was denied by Raya.
But a point will suffice, with Town mindful that if they beat Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United on Saturday, then they are almost there. Two more wins should certainly do it.
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