ON the surface, a draw at a stadium where all of their League One promotion rivals have lost seems like a decent result for Huddersfield Town.
For Lee Novak, however, Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw at play-off chasing Stevenage can be filed away firmly in the ‘What if?’ category of fixtures.
What if Town had not conceded the corner that allowed the Hertfordshire side back into the game when 2-0 down and with less than a quarter of the 90 minutes to play?
What if the Terriers’ defence had not then gone to sleep and allowed Michael Bostwick to head in unmarked and set up a frantic finale that also saw Stevenage win and then miss a penalty courtesy of a stunning save by Alex Smithies?
Finally, what if Robin Shroot had not gambled and headed for the back post before Jennison Myrie-Williams had drilled a low pass across the face of the Town goal?
The upshot was Huddersfield being pegged back and forced to settle for a draw, much to the frustration of everyone in the away dressing room at Broadhall Way.
Novak said: “Things were looking good but then we threw it away and after the game it felt like a defeat.
“The lads were hurting in the dressing room but they will bounce back. Stevenage have beaten many of the top six at home this season.
“That is a positive but we were all still hurting at the final whistle. Getting on the bus afterwards, everyone was disappointed.
“It was one of the toughest games we have played this season. Stevenage make it difficult for anyone, it is the way they play and, to be fair, it is effective.
“But I thought we matched them in every department and, on another day, we would have won the game.”
Stevenage’s Indian sign over the top teams in League One in their first season at this level started in September with a 5-1 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday.
A 1-0 win over leaders Charlton Athletic followed a month later before Sheffield United became the latest side to crash in Hertfordshire, on November 5, as Danny Wilson’s side were beaten 2-1.
Completing the list of teams sitting in the play-off spots to lose at Stevenage were Milton Keynes Dons, who were beaten 4-2 at Broadhall Way last month.
Asked about Town bucking the trend by taking at least a point, Novak, who took his goal tally to 12 in the draw at Stevenage, said: “That is what I mean by saying we have to take the positives. Plus, no other top team has gone to Stevenage and claimed anything.
“The key is to forget all about it and get ready for Bury. The games come thick and fast now so we have to concentrate on that.”
For Novak, his goal was his first for Town since November’s FA Cup defeat to Swindon Town.
In a game that top scorer Jordan Rhodes missed due to international duty, his 55th-minute strike and an earlier goal by Danny Ward also disproved the assumption in the wider football world that Huddersfield are a one-man team.
Despite that, Novak reiterated his feeling of intense disappointmonent at the final whistle.
He said: “I was pleased to get a goal. It was a while since I had scored but if given the choice I would have preferred not to score and us get the three points.
“But we move on. There are 14 games to go and we have to try and win them all. We have to believe we can do it.”