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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:55 15th January 2011

WALSALL 2 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 4

Town came away from a high-scoring affair at the Banks's Stadium with all three points thanks to second half goals from skipper Peter Clarke (pictured) and top scorer Jordan Rhodes.

The Terriers, backed by just under 900 superb supporters, were handed an early setback when Walsall scored but first half goals from Kevin Kilbane and Jamie McCombe gave them a half time lead. Matt Richards' free-kick pegged them back again, but an overhead kick from the Town skipper and added time goal for Rhodes sealed another important win - and extended Town's unbeaten record in 2011.

Lee Clark switched his side back to the 4-3-3 formation employed in the 2-2 draw at Carlisle on New Year's Day, with Alan Lee at the spearhead of a front three that also consisted of Anthony Pilkington and Lee Novak.

Walsall midfielder Paul Marshall wasted an early corner with an over-hit delivery whilst at the other end the 6' 6" frame of Jamie McCombe put an ambitious overhead kick well wide of goal from a Lee Peltier long throw.

The Terriers had an early penalty claim turned away in the fifth minute when a big header from Antony Kay set Alan Lee away behind the home defence; goalkeeper David Bevan caught the big striker as he looked to shoot, but as Alan got a clear shot away - that went wide - the referee signalled for a goal kick.

A minute later home right back Darryl Westlake went on an enterprising run down the right side, taking the ball past both Kilbane and Pilkington before crossing towards striker Will Grigg. However, the ball passed too far in front of the striker and rolled to safety.

Youngster Grigg sent a tame long range effort well wide inside the eighth minute as the game continued at a frenetic pace.

At the other end Town built a good passing move involving Arfield, Novak and Peltier but as the latter looked to shoot he was stopped by an excellent tackle from former Town defender Andy Butler, who was skippering the Saddlers.

In the 11th minute Marshall had the opportunity to put in another corner and this time it led to a half chance for the home side. The ball was flicked on at the near post, but at the back stick former Manchester City striker Jon Macken turned the ball onto the roof of the stand with his left foot.

GOAL - The home side then took the lead in the 14th minute of the game through a very simple goal from Alex Nicholls. After Anthony Pilkington was caught offside the home side pumped a long ball into the area, where Grigg turned the ball into the path of the right winger - who had made a run off the right wing to get involved. Nicholls hadn't been tracked and found himself in space inside the area, where he sent a low left footed shot squirming under Alex Smithies.

A mistake from McCombe inside his own area in the 17th minute almost gifted the Saddlers a second goal - he dropped a tame header straight into the path of Grigg, but with his back to goal he could only send the ball trickling wide.

GOAL - Town responded in style inside the 19th minute when loanee Kevin Kilbane netted his first goal for the Club in classy style. The Irish international robbed home midfielder Matt Richards of the ball inside the Walsall half before bursting past defender Emmanuelle Smith, skipping around the advancing goalkeeper and sliding the ball into the vacant net.

GOAL - Town then took the lead for the first time in the game when defender Jamie McCombe netted a towering sixth goal of the season. The big defender won the right sided corner himself and when Anthony Pilkington played the ball in towards the far post, the giant defender got above his marker and planted a firm header past the stranded goalkeeper from close range.

Lee Novak then spurned a chance to extend the Terriers' lead, scuffing a low ball into the box from Arfield straight into the goalkeeper's hands when very well positioned.

Town had a modicum of control in the game by this stage and started to pass the ball well. However Walsall created a good chance in the 33rd minute when winger Julian Gray crossed into the box, but Macken headed straight at Smithies from 12 yards.

Saddlers centre half Smith then gave the ball straight to Arfield inside his own half two minutes later and the Scottish under-21 international slid a pass to the onrushing Kilbane; the Hull loanee found himself in a similar situation to his opening goal, but this time his touch was too heavy and he ran the ball behind for a goal kick.

Kilbane was very impressive in the first half and it was his explosive change of pace that setup another chance for Town as the first half came to a close. He advanced on the home goal before hitting a clever reverse pass into the feet of Kay on the edge of the box; unfortunately for the travelling fans, the midfielder blasted the ball wide of the near post.

SUB - Town were forced into a change five minutes before the half due to a knock picked up by Tamas Kadar - he was replaced at left back by Liam Ridehalgh.

The Town supporters were in fantastic voice throughout the half and they were quick to give Smithies a cheer when he collected Marshall's free-kick down low in first half added time.

HALF-TIME: WALSALL 1 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 2

SUB - Lee Clark made his second substitution of the game at half-time, with Gary Roberts replacing Lee Novak. Town stayed 4-3-3 despite the change, with Robbo wide on the right.

GOAL - However, Town were pegged back immediately in the second half when Matt Richards scored a free-kick in the 47th minute. The Terriers conceded a free-kick right on the edge of their own area and set-piece specialist Richards stepped up to curl a perfectly flighted free-kick over the wall and into the top corner.

Scott Arfield led the Town fight-back and went on a dribble straight at the heart of the Walsall defence in the 52nd minute, but unfortunately his left foot shot flew over the crossbar from around 23 yards.

Julian Gray sent a very speculative effort well wide from an extremely acute angle in the 55th minute as the Saddlers enjoyed one of their better spells of the game.

Three minutes later Butler headed a Marshall corner over the bar under heavy pressure from several Town players.

Town switched to 4-4-2 in the 67th minute with Arfield moving to the right wing, Roberts on the left and Pilkington joining Lee in attack.

SUB - Jordan Rhodes soon joined the game, replacing Alan Lee in the 69th minute.

Immediately Pilkington was inches away from putting Town's top scorer through on goal - but the ball just ran too far for the striker.

BOOKING - Peter Clarke was shown the game's first yellow card in the 73rd minute for a tug on striker Grigg's shirt. Richards fired the resulting long range free kick straight at Smithies.

GOAL - Town took the lead from another corner in the 77th minute when skipper Peter Clarke netted his third goal of 2011. Town won a corner on the right side following a ball into the box and when Gary Roberts' deep delivery cannoned off a clutch of players at the back post, Peter swivelled and sent a close range overhead kick into the top of the net to send the Town fans into raptures.

Lee Clark's men were suddenly buoyed and substitute Rhodes soon sent a rocket of a shot just over the bar after being found with a low pass by Arfield.

SUB - Walsall made a substitution with eight minutes left: goal-scorer Nicholls was replaced by Jamie Paterson.

Left back Aaron Lescott flashed the ball across the face of goal in the 87th minute as the home side searched for another equaliser.

BOOKING - Andy Butler was rightly booked in the same minute for a poor challenge on Anthony Pilkington as the Town man skipped past him. Lee Peltier reacted to the challenge and was cautioned too.

GOAL - Town netted a fourth goal in added time when Jordan Rhodes scored his 16th of the season to put the result beyond doubt. Home custodian David Bevan gifted possession to Gary Roberts on halfway and he strode past right back Westlake to break clear of the home defence; he crossed low into the area where Pilkington ran over the ball, leaving substitute Rhodes with the simple task of placing the ball past the goalkeeper to seal the points for his side.

BOOKING - Antony Kay was booked for time wasting late on.

FULL-TIME: WALSALL 2 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 4

Town's Team (4-3-3):

Alex Smithies; Tamas Kadar (Liam Ridehalgh 40), Peter Clarke (c), Jamie McCombe, Lee Peltier; Kevin Kilbane, Antony Kay, Scott Arfield; Anthony Pilkington, Alan Lee (Jordan Rhodes 69), Lee Novak (Gary Roberts 46)

Unused Subs: Ian Bennett, Joey Gudjonsson, Tom Clarke, Chris Atkinson

Town Bookings: Peter Clarke (73), Lee Peltier (87), Antony Kay (90)

Walsall Booking: Andy Butler (87)

Attendance: 3,827

Town: 898

    Data provided by Press Association

    QUICK FACTS

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