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16:55 22nd August 2009


Town suffered their first defeat of the 2009/10 campaign at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon thanks to a late penalty scored by Bristol Rovers winger Jeff Hughes.

After a scrappy opening 45 minutes the Terriers matched their hosts in the second-half, but having already saved a penalty in the first half Alex Smithies could not prevent Hughes from netting the only goal of the game to condemn Lee Clark's side to defeat.

Both sides enjoyed some neat passages of play in the early stages, with Town wingers Roberts and Pilkington pushing up alongside main striker Rhodes every time the Terriers attacked. However, skipper Clarke had to be alert to block Jo Kuffour's 7th minute shot behind for a corner following a smart turn from the striker.

Lee Peltier's looping cross in the 10th minute caused Bristol 'keeper Forster a few problems and with Jordan Rhodes in close attendance, he could only fist the ball weakly away to his right side. However, that clearance spurred a counter-attack from the home side that resulted in Duffy's shot being well blocked by Antony Kay.

The Gas enjoyed a spell of early pressure and won a penalty in the 18th minute. Anthony Pilkington lost possession to Kuffour on the halfway line before the former Brentford man advanced and slid the ball inside Butler for onrushing midfielder Chris Lines. As the tall Bristol man advanced into the box, he was tripped by the hand of Alex Smithies and referee Hill pointed to the spot.

BOOKING - As several Town defenders were covering for Smithies, the goalkeeper only received a yellow card.

Up stepped striker Darryl Duffy, but his placed penalty was read perfectly by Smithies - who was pointing to his left throughout Duffy's run-up. At full stretch, he gathered in the ball easily.

That save seemed to motivate Town further and they started to push the home side into their half more with an array of cross-field passes, without testing the Rovers custodian. At the other end, the hosts enjoyed a fair few corners but the Town defence coped with them well.

Neither side created a chance worthy of note before a positive run from Rovers Captain Campbell at the heart of Town's defence in the 41st minute saw him pass to Kuffour, whose powerful drive was beaten away by Smithies.

Town's best chance of the first half came in added time after a good spell of possession forced a corner down the right wing. Drinkwater took the set-piece and found Peter Clarke, but his effort on goal struck teammate Pilkington in the six yard box before bouncing to safety.


SUB - Town made one change during the interval, with Theo Robinson replacing Antony Kay. Lee Clark moved his side to an orthodox 4-4-2 as a result, with Drinkwater joining Tom Clarke in the middle of midfield and Robinson partnering Rhodes in attack.

Robinson immediately caused the home team a few problems with his pace - first Danny Coles got a stern reprimand from the referee for an unnecessary hack on the striker by the touchline before fellow centre-back Anthony just survived a race to the ball with the former Watford man.

A good piece of play involving midfielders Clarke and Drinkwater in the 51st minute led to Rhodes receiving a good pass into feet from the latter on the edge of the box, but he got his attempted curler around the goalkeeper all wrong and the ball drifted wide of goal.

Bristol winger Hughes fizzed a low ball across the face of Smithies' goal in the 55th minute after being released down the left by the impressive Kuffour before the Terriers threatened at the other end a minute later; Pilkington heading an excellent Roberts cross over at the far post.

Gary Roberts had to be alert in the 57th minute to clear a header from defender Byron Anthony off his own line following another Campbell corner.

After that chance, the Terriers pushed the home side into their own half and forced their own succession of corners. 'Keeper Forster flapped at one Drinkwater cross in the 62nd minute under pressure from Tom Clarke, but the ball wouldn't drop quickly enough for substitute Robinson who volleyed over the crossbar from fourteen yards.

Rovers were beginning to panic in defence and some hasty clearances were gifting the Terriers possession, but for all the possession that Town enjoyed they were unable to properly test a shaky-looking Fraser Forster in goal. However, the home fans were beginning to get frustrated with their side.

However, a lovely chip over the top from Drinkwater set Robinson away in the 71st minute and forced Forster into action. The Newcastle loanee came off his line well and got a vital foot to the ball to prevent Theo from rounding him and tapping the ball into the empty net.

BOOKING - Rovers midfielder Jeff Hughes was booked in the 74th minute following an almighty goalmouth scramble in front of Smithies' goal. As several players blocked the ball, Hughes charged in and kicked a prone Huddersfield player. For dissent, Danny Coles followed him into the book.

SUB - Lee Clark made a change in the 76th minute, with Lee Novak replacing Rhodes in attack.

SUB - StrikerAndy Williams was introduced to the game by Paul Trollope in the 77th minute; he replaced Darryl Duffy.

Rovers were then awarded their second penalty of the game in the 82nd minute of the game due to a handball from Andy Butler. Kuffour turned the ball around the corner for strike partner Williams and although Tom Clarke excellently blocked his first effort, a desperate slide from Butler led to the ball striking his arm when he was sprawling across the floor.

GOAL - This time midfielder Jeff Hughes made no mistake, sending Alex Smithies the wrong way and planting the ball high into roof of the net.

SUB - Jo Kuffour was replaced by midfielder Dominic Blizzard in the 86th minute as Rovers looked to shore up their midfield.

SUB - Lee Clark made one last throw of the dice in the 87th minute, replacing Pilkington with Lionel Ainsworth.

A late volley from Ainsworth following a good Novak cross bounced into the floor before being collected comfortably by the goalkeeper and Town couldn't find the goal to rescue a point.


Town's Team (4-4-1-1):

Alex Smithies; Joe Skarz, Andy Butler, Peter Clarke (c), Lee Peltier; Gary Roberts, Tom Clarke, Antony Kay (Theo Robinson 46), Anthony Pilkington (Lionel Ainsworth 87); Danny Drinkwater; Jordan Rhodes (Lee Novak 76)

Unused Substitutes: Matt Glennon, Michael Collins, Nathan Clarke, Robbie Simpson

Town Booking: Alex Smithies (18)

Bristol Rovers Bookings: Jeff Hughes (74), Danny Coles (75)

Attendance: 6,952

Visitors: 610

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.