Disorganised Sheffield Wednesday give classy Huddersfield Town a decisive headstart
The centre-back had taken a bang to the head, the rest just did not seem to know what was being asked of them.
When Tony Pulis sends out a football team, organisation comes as standard. In the opening half-hour in West Yorkshire last night they were all over the place and Huddersfield Town ruthlessly exploited it.
In the end, they settled for a 2-0 victory, but it probably could have been more had they really wanted it. This is not a time and not a season to be pushing too hard for victories that are already in the bag, and Wednesday’s start ensured it was.
The uncertainty started from the kick-off. Pulis sent his side out in a 5-4-1 out of possession but with left-back Adam Reach asked to join the midfield when they had the ball. It is a dangerous state to be in at the best of times, even more so when the opposition’s best player is arguably their right-back. It was no surprise Pipa was at the forefront of Town’s attacking vibrant and incisive attacking play as they followed up Saturday’s home victory over Queens Park Rangers.
By the time they were in front, after 12 minutes – Pipa playing the ball in and Fraizer Campbell backheeling for Josh Koroma to score his fourth goal in five home matches – Wednesday had changed formation. Moses Odubajo had moved from right wing-back to left-back, Dominic Iorfa from the most central defender to the right of a back four.
A couple of minutes later Borner went down and confusion reigned again. He was wrongly allowed to carry on for a couple of minutes and although it did not cost his side – in fact, it was his replacement, Liam Palmer who conceded the free-kick Huddersfield doubled their lead from – it just showed the lack of clarity from the Owls, usually Town’s Kryptonite.
Borner actually blocked a shot on his return to the field, or rather Koroma’s shot hit his back after being played in by Jonathan Hogg.
When Palmer, on at right-back in another reshuffle, was booked for a 24th-minute foul, Isaac Mbenza curled in the free-kick.
Huddersfield, who had not beaten Wednesday in 11 meetings, failing to score in their last eight, were everything their visitors were not.
Soon Koroma was coming inside, feigning to shoot, then putting the ball just wide when he did.
With Huddersfield coming off the gas and Hogg succumbing to injury, the Owls had a couple of moments at the end of the half, a brilliant reverse pass, then a nice touch from Barry Bannan releasing Reach each time. The first cross was touched away from the arriving Callum Paterson by Naby Sarr, the second headed wide by Josh Windass.
Within minutes of the restart it looked like Town would not only put the game to bed, but even read it a story as substitute Juninho Bacuna turned Iorfa and was brought down in the area.
Perhaps it was a bit too easy as Huddersfield got too cool for school, Bacuna hitting the penalty well wide, then giving the ball away to Paterson, whose excellent ball found Reach and forced Pipa to clean up the mess. A minute later Kadeem Harris’s deflected shot rippled the side-netting.
Naby Sarr played a brilliant ball to pick out Mbenza, whose pull-back sloppily found an opponent, and when Campbell did well to play Lewis O’Brien’s terrific pass to Koroma, he attempted a robona and collapsed in a heap, his night over.
Still, that 2-0 headstart was enough of a cushion, and until added time, the later chances were Huddersfield’s, good work by Campbell and O’Brien releasing Mbenza to flash a cross over, then O’Brien dragging a shot wide.
Ben Hamer had to make an added-time save from Jordan Rhodes who looked suspiciously and comfortably offside, but even with the Terriers dropping down a gear, they failed to really land a glove.
Wednesday are not a team that can give anyone a two-goal headstart and expect to get away with it.
Huddersfield Town: Hamer; Pipa, Edmonds-Green, Sarr, Toffolo; O’Brien, Eiting, Hogg (Bacuna 35); Mbenza (Vallejo 82), Campbell (Ward 82), Koroma (Brown 62).
Unused substitutes: Pritchard, Diakhaby, Rowe, Schofield, Phillips.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Odubajo, Lees, Iorfa, Borner (Palmer 21), Reach; K Harris, Paterson (Kachunga 80), Luongo (Pelupessy 46), Bannan (Brown 85); Windass (Rhodes 80).
Unused substitutes: van Aken, Penney, Dele-Bashiru, Dawson.
Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire).
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