January blues continue but Huddersfield Town are now in safe hands

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN’S biggest home crowd since February 2020 came along for a party.

Huddersfield Town's Danel Sinani celebrates his goal. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Huddersfield Town's Danel Sinani celebrates his goal. Picture Bruce Rollinson

But in the end, it proved a hard work event on a bit of a grey day.

January is a tough month for many, just ask Boris Johnson at the moment. In Town’s case, it has plenty of historical context.

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Taking in Saturday’s draw, they have now won just once in 19 league matches in the opening month of a new year. You also have to go back almost five years to their last home victory at league level in January.

Jonathan Hogg's early hesder is saved on the line by Ben Hamer. Picture Bruce Rollinson

There was understandable disappointment at the latest events, more especially in a second period when the hosts were pinned in their own half and subjugated.

The consolation is that while Swansea laid siege – and most definitely looked like a side who are in a false position – Huddersfield did not fold and chiselled out a point to extend their unbeaten run to eight matches.

It took their points total to 41. Last season, Town did not reach that tally until mid-March.

If you can’t win, don’t lose. Huddersfield didn’t, despite being comprehensively outplayed in the second period.

Danel Sinani celebrates his openng goal for Town. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Swansea did break through to level, courtesy of a well-crafted strike 12 minutes from time from the classy Flynn Downes.

More importantly, it was not the precursor to a winner. In previous seasons, certainly the last two, it surely would have been.

Lee Nicholls, not for the first time, stood tall and again underlined the fact that bringing him into the club represents one of the shrewdest pieces of transfer business by those in the corridors of power at the John Smith’s Stadium in a fair while.

Last summer also saw Tom Lees and Matty Pearson, two uncomplicated centre-halves who enjoy defending and do exactly what it says on the tin, recruited.

Like Nicholls, both have also proved sound acquisitions and kept their heads and remained resolute when the bullets were flying. Good players and good characters.

For all its imperfections, it was a day which reflected well upon Town’s recruitment department.

It should also be noted that their goalscorer was another close-season signing in Danel Sinani, who scored his fourth goal of the campaign before succumbing to a hamstring issue at the break.

His departure was untimely, with stalwart full-back Harry Toffolo correctly alluding to that very fact afterwards.

Toffolo said: “It’s disappointing obviously having Danel come off at half-time – it affected the team, we had a little wobble in the first five minutes.

“It then turned into more of an attack-defence situation, which we don’t want to happen.

“We’ve been there before, I remember Coventry at home had a similar vibe about it then. It’s disappointing. I look at it as two points dropped, I don’t look at it as one point gained – that shows you how far it’s come.

“But there’s also a bit of perspective; we’re now eight unbeaten in all competitions.”

Specifically on the impact of Nicholls, he continued: “I’d say he’s a candidate for Player of the Season. He’s been exceptional.

“He is someone who has come into the side with his personality and just his sheer presence – I think it’s natural at 6ft 4in, its easy to have a presence. He’s an incredible human being.

“He’s made the dressing room stronger and better, and I hope he now continues his form because it’s going to help the side.”

Nicholls was called into action to make a splendid reaction save to keep out Ryan Manning’s stinging half-volley in the first half, yet it was an opening 45 minutes when Town did plenty right at the opposite end of the pitch.

More’s the pity it could not be sustained over the course of the piece.

Town’s press and shape out of possession was good and some of their counter-attacking was of the highest order.

But, like all good sides, Swansea did not panic and kept playing their patient possession football, with Downes and Matt Grimes ticking them over nicely.

To their credit, Huddersfield gave the visitors – taking the field in a league game for the first time since December 11 – plenty to think about in the opening half.

Danny Ward’s fine hold-up work and the darting forward runs of another player whose importance to the Town cause is inestimable in Lewis O’Brien unhinged Swansea at times.

O’Brien went close early on with ex-Town custodian Ben Hamer making a tidy save to tip over his blistering strike with the midfielder also being a central figure in the hosts’ goal.

Sinani was on hand to tuck away the rebound after Hamer denied O’Brien following a well-crafted move down the left.

Sublime play involving Ward and Sorba Thomas almost produced a goal of the season contender for O’Brien, only for Hamer to block before Swansea started to impose themselves.

On the restart, aside from one late chance from that man O’Brien again, they assumed almost total control as Town dropped deep and struggled to get out of their own half.

The tone was set when Nicholls did superbly to keep out Cyrus Christie’s curler, while the lively Oliver Ntcham, Joel Piroe and impressive substitute Michael Obafemi were later thwarted.

Sadly, Nicholls was powerless to stop Downes from levelling after he started and finished off a fine move involving Korey Smith.

O’Brien and Piroe had chances to win it, but didn’t. The relief at the final whistle unquestionably belonged to Town, mind.