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21:41 13th September 2011


The Terriers recorded arguably their most impressive win of the embryonic 2011/12 season at Bramall Lane this evening, dismissing early League leaders Sheffield United thanks to three first half goals.

Lee Novak took his seasonal tally to seven with two real poacher's efforts in the opening 37 minutes before midfielder Oscar Gobern scored his first for the Club to round off an impressive opening period.

Lee Clark's side then saw out the second 45 minutes with very few scares to record another important three points in the new npower League 1 season.

The Terriers, in their famous blue and white striped shirts, kicked off at Bramall Lane to start the match but the home side had the first chance inside 70 seconds when Chris Porter headed Stephen Quinn's right wing cross harmlessly wide under heavy pressure.

Town hit back straight away, with Saturday's Man of the Match Calum Woods stepping out of defence with the ball and finding Danny Ward with a pass to feet. Wardy's left wing cross was directed perfectly onto the head of top scorer Lee Novak, but with little power behind the ball he could only float his header straight at the 'keeper.

The action-packed start to the game continued, with home forward Richard Cresswell testing former Blade Ian Bennett with a low snapshot in the 4th minute after receiving a pass from centre back Neill Collins down the left flank.

Cresswell had another effort three minutes later in almost identical circumstances when Jack Hunt was disposed just inside the United half; again he cut inside Jamie McCombe before trying his luck with a right-footed shot, but this time the striker screwed it badly wide.

The Terriers went very close to opening the scoring through a long Ian Bennett free-kick on the stroke of the 9th minute; the veteran goalie found the ever-dependable head of Alan Lee on the edge of the penalty area and his flick was helped on by strike partner Novak into the path of Oscar Gobern, who drove a low shot just wide of the near post from 20 yards.

United midfielder Lee Williamson tried to deftly chip Bennett just before the quarter hour mark only to see his commendable effort land on the top of the netting, but Town boss Lee Clark - sporting a tracksuit for the game - would have been unhappy had it gone in as it looked like Lee Novak had been fouled in the build-up moments earlier.

Big striker Lee did brilliantly to win a 50-50 header with big defender Collins upon the restart after Hunt had cleared the ball up field, but when Lee Novak volleyed towards goal his effort deflected off the prone body of the target man and looped over the crossbar.

GOAL - Just as the game looked to be settling down, the Terriers took the lead in the 20th minute with Lee Novak grabbing his sixth goal of the fledgling campaign. Once again Alan Lee did well in the build-up, driving infield after collecting a header from Arfield before squaring a pass to the left for Danny Ward; the winger looked up and blasted a typically powerful shot towards goal from 25 yards out that 'keeper Steve Simonsen couldn't handle, with Novak showing good predatory instinct to follow up and slide the rebound underneath the recovering custodian.

Town's defence saw off a quick-fire Blades free-kick delivered into the area before continuing to attack the host's goal - Ward winning a corner that came to nothing. Despite this, midfielder Stephen Quinn was showing what an adept set-piece taker he was throughout the opening stages.

The new midfield pairing of fit-again Damien Johnson and Oscar Gobern was performing well in the half with the former Northern Ireland international showing what an adept reader of the game he was with several classy interceptions.

Town went close to a second goal in the 28th minute thanks to good play from Woods; the full-back backed up his winger and collected a pass before crossing right onto the head of Lee, who forced Simonsen to save his goal-bound header.

McCombe pulled off an excellent sliding tackle to deny a Sheffield United break just after the half hour mark, winning the ball cleanly off a striker despite the protestations of the home crowd. Moments later skipper Kay positioned himself perfectly at the near post to block a dangerous low cross from striker Porter with Cresswell lurking nearby.

Sheffield United then created their best chance of the game to date in the 36th minute, setting right back Lowton away down the left edge of Town's penalty area; his pull back was perfectly into the path of Porter, but the former Oldham man placed his shot wide from just ten yards out.

GOAL - Town then doubled their advantage from a set piece, with Lee Novak netting his second of the game in the 37th minute. Town won a free kick just inside the Sheffield half when Gobern was upended, allowing Hunt to deliver a ball towards the back post; Lee won the initial header and the ball fell to right winger Arfield, who volleyed the ball back across the face of goal - where Novak had positioned himself perfectly to place the ball past the goalkeeper at close range.

Lee Novak Goal 320

GOAL - In dramatic circumstances the Terriers netted a third goal in the 40th minute to silence the home fans and send the visiting army into raptures. Scott Arfield won an attacking corner down the right side, allowing Danny Ward to swing a pacey cross towards the back stick - where Oscar Gobern was on hand to outmuscle his marker and power a header home for his first goal in Town colours.

The Terriers looked very dangerous from their own set pieces and only an off the line clearance from left back Williams denied McCombe from scoring Town's fourth as the half came to a close - again from a dangerous Ward corner.

The last meaningful action of the half saw Bennett spring from his line to confidently collect a high free-kick into the area - a perfect end to a perfect half.


SUBS - Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson made a double substitution during the interval, with striker Ched Evans and midfielder Kevin McDonald replacing Porter and Williamson.

Evans was immediately into the action, winning a free-kick from McCombe on the edge of the box; the striker picked himself up and tested Bennett to his left side with a low effort, but when the custodian pushed the ball out McCombe did enough to put off Cresswell - who fired wide from a very acute angle.

Predictably the home side came out of the blocks quickly in the second period, but a solid early tackle from Woods on Flynn personified Town's stout defending in the early stages.

The referee had a stern word with centre back Collins and Alan Lee for a typically physical confrontation in the penalty area soon after, sparking the away support into vocal support for their new cult hero - not for the first time on the evening!

Danny Ward cut infield in the 57th minute to collect another Lee knock-down before taking on an ambitious right footed volley that arrowed into the travelling support rather than at the goal.

Danny Ward Keeper 320

Alan Lee then embarked upon a tremendous run, skipping past two Blades players before hitting the top of the netting with a 25 yard piledriver.

That seemed to spark United into life; first McCombe and Gobern made excellent blocks to deny Blades players clear shots at goal before right back Lawton drove at the heart of the Town defence and curled a low left-footed shot inches wide of the far post - with Ian Bennett well beaten.

The impressive Calum Woods then beat a defender with a deft step-over before dribbling down the left and crossing towards the penalty spot, but on his weaker left foot Lee could only turn a volley a few yards wide of the near post.

Evans then managed to break clear of the Town defence for the first time in the 66th minute, collecting a massive defensive header from a centre back before bearing down on goal. Jamie McCombe did brilliantly to get back alongside the Welshman and drive him onto his weaker left foot and when the shot eventually came in, 'Benno' got down low to push the ball to safety.

SUB - Town boss Clark made his first substitution of the game in the 68th minute, with Anton Robinson replacing Arfield in a straight swap on the right of midfield.

Damien Johnson looped a harmless curler straight at the goalkeeper upon the restart after excellent hold-up play from Novak.

SUB - Town made their second change in the 71st minute, with a hobbling Lee Novak replaced by Jordan Rhodes.

SUB - United made their final substitution at the same time, with winger Flynn replaced by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.

Alan Lee got another talking to from the ref as the final 15 minutes approached, but regardless the big man was putting in a magnificent shirt for his teammates - proving an outlet down the lines in Novak's absence.

Ward sent another right-footed snapshot - made possible from another Lee flick-on - wide with ten minutes left.

BOOKING - Alan Lee received a yellow card in the 81st minute, apparently for persistent fouling - although it looked like the striker had a good case for being held on the offence that broke the camel's back.

Bennett got down to his right side to push a decent effort from central midfielder McDonald wide of goal as the final five minutes approached - drawing richly deserved applause from the away supporters.

Town looked determined to keep their clean sheet, with centre backs Kay and McCombe very impressive throughout the evening. On the rare occasions that pairing was breached Ian Bennett showed his quality and he was needed in the three minutes of added time to push away a good strike from Cresswell after trickery from Mendez-Laing down the right.

BOOKING - Jack Hunt was shown a yellow card in the closing minutes of the game for a blatant handball on the edge of his own penalty area.


Town's team (4-4-2):

Ian Bennett; Calum Woods, Antony Kay (c), Jamie McCombe, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward, Oscar Gobern, Damien Johnson, Scott Arfield (Anton Robinson 68); Lee Novak (Jordan Rhodes 71), Alan Lee

Unused subs: Nick Colgan, Gary Roberts, Liam Cooper

Town Bookings: Alan Lee (81), Jack Hunt (90)

Attendance: 17,373

Town: 1,549

    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.