SLEEPLESS nights are a problem for Alan Lee right now.
Not, it should be said, due to the pressures of keeping Huddersfield Town in the Championship, a fight that the 34-year-old boosted considerably on Tuesday by inspiring a stunning comeback win over Middlesbrough with a timely late strike.
The reason for Lee’s sleep being disturbed is a happy one. Earlier this week, wife Catherine gave birth to daughter Eva and the new arrival is already making her presence felt at chez Lee.
“Our baby daughter Eva is doing really well,” said the Town striker with a huge smile. “Or, at least, she was until Wednesday night when she started screaming the house down.
“I have to say my wife has been absolutely brilliant. She lets me roll over and go back to sleep. Catherine understands I need my energy to play football.
“To be fair, though, I am absolutely loving it. A little one means you have something to do all day. There is no sitting down or taking an afternoon snooze, which I’ll admit I am missing a bit.
“But it is wonderful, and I wouldn’t swap it.”
Lee’s happy demeanour is shared by his Huddersfield team-mates, judging by the Yorkshire Post’s visit to the club’s Canalside training complex yesterday.
Smiles have largely replaced the furrowed brows of a fortnight ago thanks to a four-game run that has yielded seven points.
Having taken just 10 points from the previous 16 outings, this upturn in form has not only helped reverse the club’s alarming slide down the table but also extended the gap between Mark Robins’s men and the relegation zone to six points.
With tomorrow’s home game against Charlton and a derby trip to Leeds United to come before the international break, Town have an opportunity to move further clear of trouble.
Lee, pictured celebrating his equaliser, believes the Terriers can do just that, though the veteran striker is also keen to warn supporters not to expect too much free-flowing football on the difficult John Smith’s Stadium pitch.
The forward, whose 86th-minute strike against Boro was followed by Danny Ward netting a stoppage-time winner, said: “Tuesday night really was a massive result for us, particularly when you look at how the other results went elsewhere.
“It was clear from the celebrations just how much relief the lads felt at getting the three points.
“It was a big first step, though with a lot of hard work to come yet.
“Performance-wise, we did well, especially considering how hard the pitch is making things. Everyone has to take a second touch on the ball.
“I would say the pitch has been the worst it has been since I came to the club. I don’t want to seem like I am moaning, and I don’t want to upset the groundsman.
“The weather has been shocking and then there is rugby being played on it.
“You won’t get much free-flowing football or goals where defences are opened up. The pitch just won’t allow it.
“The problem comes when you try to cross. It seems to bobble at the vital moment, just as you need to be able to make that first sweet touch. In midfield, you have a bit more time. But up front, that isn’t the case.
“It can be quite draining, too. Especially for me. I sink about six inches on the pitch at the moment. I am more a good to firm man. As a horse, I probably wouldn’t be run. Though we don’t have that option at the moment.
“Mind, despite the surface not being the best, the crowd make home games an advantage. They really got behind us and kept the team going.”
Results elsewhere – most notably Wolves giving Dean Saunders his first win as manager at the 10th attempt – underlined the value of the win over Boro and Lee believes the confidence gleaned from Tuesday can further boost hopes of climbing away from danger.
He said: “Look at Wolves: I don’t think they would have got that 2-0 win at Millwall if they hadn’t got the last-minute equaliser against Watford a few days earlier. Things like that breed confidence and lift a team.
“We had played so well against Middlesbrough, but then the goal went in with about 15 minutes to go. Our heads dropped a little so it was nice to come on and help turn that around by scoring our first goal.”
With Charlton next up at the John Smith’s tomorrow, Lee, who joined Huddersfield from Crystal Palace in the summer of 2010, added: “I know you don’t always get what you deserve in football, but another performance like Tuesday would suit us.
“We should be able to play with less pressure and, hopefully, that can be reflected in the results.
“We will approach Charlton with the right attitude.”