AS a veteran of two previous promotion successes in League One, Simon Grayson knew instantly what the sudden cheer by supporters during a lull in play on Tuesday night meant.
With Huddersfield Town being held at home to Hartlepool United, the Galpharm Stadium faithful were letting the players know that one of the club’s main rivals had suffered a setback.
It turned out being Sheffield United who had conceded en route to an unexpected defeat to Walsall – a result that, thanks to Alan Lee netting a winner for Town against Hartlepool and Sheffield Wednesday marking Dave Jones’s first game with a win, means the League One promotion race is back in the melting point.
Just two points now separate second-placed Blades from Huddersfield in fourth to suggest that the fight to get out of the third tier is going to go down to the wire.
Grayson said: “The most important part of Tuesday from our point of view was that we beat Hartlepool.
“Then, from a mental side, after losing two leads when in comfortable positions it was important to respond with a clean sheet. That will have done the players’ confidence the world of good after what happened at Stevenage and Bury (when Huddersfield squandered two and three goal leads respectively).
“So, from that point of view, Tuesday was a good night for us – especially as we came off after beating Hartlepool to discover Sheffield United had lost.
“We knew on the bench that something must have happened because there was a loud cheer. Obviously, we were concentrating fully on Hartlepool but I did think at the time, ‘Maybe Sheffield United are losing?’ The crowd’s reaction suggested so.
“It was an unexpected result but that is just what it is going to be like and that’s why we can’t rely on others. We just can’t control how Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday get on. Or MK Dons.
“I still believe they are firmly involved. Okay, they may be four points behind us and six off second. But in this league that is nothing, even as the games start running out. The last week has shown us that.
“The picture could change dramatically over the next few weeks as well, that’s just what League One is like. I would say Charlton look to be in a strong position. They would have to go on a really poor run now to be caught. But as for second place, I still believe any of the four teams behind Charlton can claim automatic.”
Town’s midweek win and a second clean sheet in as many home games under Grayson sets up tomorrow’s visit of Rochdale.
Grayson added: “We have to build on what, despite only drawing those two games when we were ahead, has been an encouraging start. Having said that, I don’t think people can expect to see our philosophy in terms of how we want to play until next season.
“We have managed to implement a few ideas and tweak a few things.
“But, in terms of the bigger picture and the long-term vision we have for Huddersfield Town, we can’t make too many changes at this stage of a season so they will have to wait.
“The plus for me is we have come into a club that is thriving. There is not too much that needed changing immediately.”.