Skip to main content


14:29 12th May 2012


Goals from Jordan Rhodes and Jack Hunt gave the Terriers an excellent lead to take into the second leg of the Play-Off semi-final against MK Dons after a great performance at stadiummk this afternoon.

Although the Dons enjoyed their fair share of possession throughout the game, Town always looked more dangerous in front of goal and worked two excellent goals to give themselves a two goal cushion before the return leg in West Yorkshire on Tuesday night.

Town - in their change strip of red shirts, black shorts and black socks - had to defend an early corner from the hosts in the first 40 seconds of the game when Jack Hunt had to put a huge clearance from goalkeeper David Martin behind, but Dean Bowditch's delivery was too long for its intended target at the back post.

Hunt was soon up at the other end of the pitch, fizzing a low driven cross into the hands of the Dons 'keeper on the stroke of three minutes.

Interestingly the Dons started with former Leeds and Newcastle man Alan Smith up front, who had been operating in midfield previously. The front man was lively in the opening stages and volleyed an ambitious first time effort well wide of Ian Bennett's goal in the eighth minute.

Town's best move of the match to date followed a couple of minutes later when Damien Johnson worked the ball out to left back Calum Woods. The defender, who has not scored for Town in his first 28 appearances, found himself and space and drove a cross-come-shot just across the face of goal - and merely inches out of the reach of striker Lee Novak at the back post.

The Terriers continued to push forward and top scorer Jordan Rhodes found himself goal side of defender Gary MacKenzie from a Town throw. He drove the ball towards the near post and only a good piece of defending from Shaun Williams prevented Novak from getting a clear header at goal.

Woods had to be alert to deny Daniel Powell a clear chance at the other end moments later before the Terriers broke away on a counter attack. Scott Arfield intercepted a pass forward and fed Rhodes, who waited for the Scottish midfielder to overlap down the left before sliding him a return pass. Scotty played the ball into the six yard box, but once again a defender managed to nick the ball away ahead of the lurking Novak.

Skipper Peter Clarke pulled off a great tackle to deny the pacey Powell a shot at goal on the edge of the area as the game continued to ebb and flow before a big clearance out of defence found the head of Novak; he flicked the ball into the path of Danny Ward, but the winger's shot was uncharacteristically weak and failed to properly test custodian Martin.

BOOKING - Peter Clarke was shown the first yellow card of the game in the 25th minute after Smith skipped past him by the right touchline and he brought his opponent down from behind.

SUB - Scott Arfield was then forced off with an injury and Simon Grayson made an attack-minded change, bringing on Kallum Higginbotham. This change saw Danny Ward move to the right wing, with the sub operating on the left.

Damien Johnson then setup a great attack by getting in to nick the ball off opposing midfielder Stephen Gleeson. Johnson drove forward into the right edge of the Dons' area and although the intended target of his pull-back was Jordan Rhodes, the ball ran to Kallum Higginbotham - whose shot was expertly turned away by Martin at point-blank range.

GOAL - However, Town weren't done. The ball was kept in down the left by Lee Novak, who found himself in lots of space. After looking up, he sent a good in-swinging cross towards the back post and in typical fashion Jordan Rhodes had moved across the front of his marker to nod the ball past the goalkeeper with the deftest of touches in front of the travelling faithful.

Town were buoyed by the opener, with midfield duo Johnson and Miller snapping into their tackles. Miller soon won the ball off an opponent once again and drove forward before firing wide with a volley of his own.

At the other end Powell and Woods were having a real battle and the winger forced his way past the Town defender again to get to the by-line before pulling the ball back, but Alan Smith was well marshalled as he fired wide from an impossible angle.

Johnson fired a very hopeful shot well wide as he tried to open his Town account in the 44th minute after once again stealing the ball from a Dons midfielder.

All in all, the first half indicated that there would be more goals in the two-legged tie, with both goalkeepers in action during the first 45 minutes at stadiummk.


Town were on the back foot upon the restart when Kallum Higginbotham conceded an early free kick down the left side, tripping full back Adam Chicksen. Shaun Williams went forward and delivered a good set piece into the box, which eventually fell to Dons skipper Dean Lewington - whose snapshot was beaten away well by Ian Bennett. The Dons kept the ball alive through Chicksen, but striker MacDonald turned his cross well wide from an acute angle.

The Dons were on the attack following the interval and it took consecutive blocks from Peter Clarke and Bennett to block efforts at goal.

SUB - Town were forced into a second change in the 51st minute, with Tom Clarke replacing a stricken Calum Woods.

Dons forced a number of corners to keep the pressure up on Town and big centre back MacKenzie diverted one cross into the waiting hands of 'Benno'.

The hosts were dominating possession in the early stages of the second half and were showing a new willingness to work the channels more, with Smith pulling onto Jack Hunt with increasing frequency.

SUB - MK Dons boss Karl Robinson made his first substitution on the hour mark, with winger Jay O'Shea replacing Alan Smith.

O'Shea was immediately in the action, picking up a short pass and driving infield from the left. Fortunately for Town, his shot was less impressive than his build-up play - he dragged his right footed effort well wide.

In attack the Terriers were showing some promising signs on the break, but often their final pass was just off target.

Dons forced another corner in the 66th minute and it was the unusual source of Lee Novak who spread himself brilliantly to deny Daniel Powell a scoring chance.

Novak then spurned a brilliant opportunity to put his side two up moments later. A dummy run sucked the centre halves forward and allowed Jordan to put Novak in on goal, but when he pulled the trigger he drove a low shot past the goalkeeper's right hand - and just past the right-hand post.

Novak and Danny Ward then tried a one-two around left back Lewington to put the winger through on goal, but Lee couldn't arc his pass enough and the ball ran through to the goalkeeper.

BOOKING - Tommy Miller picked up a yellow card in the 70th minute for a challenge on Powell that was a little late as he crossed the halfway line.

GOAL -Town then made the Dons pay on the break in the 73rdminute, withJack Huntscoring his third goal of the season - and his first since September. The right back played a short throw to Kallum Higginbotham and played a smart one-two to release the former Falkirk man into space. Just as it looked like Kallum was about to cross deep, he fooled everyone by pulling the ball back to Hunt - who stepped infield before firing a shot between Martin and his near post with his left foot.

SUB - Dons threw on big striker Jabo Ibehre in the 76th minute - he replaced Charlie MacDonald.

Ibehre and MacKenzie were obvious threats from set pieces and upon the restart Peter Clarke took a big knock to the head trying to keep the latter at bay - which looked to knock the defender out cold. At one point the paramedics were on, but the Town fans behind the goal rose when the skipper sat up of his own volition. Eventually, after some time on the ground, it was decided he could continue.

SUB - Simon Grayson made his final substitution with six minutes of normal time remaining, with fit-again Alan Lee replacing goalscorer Rhodes.

For the final five minutes, Simon Grayson switched Higginbotham and Novak - with the latter operating from the left flank to lend his hard work to the cause.

BOOKING - Full back Adam Chicksen was booked in the 90th minute for a poor challenge on Damien Johnson as the midfielder looked to run out time.

There were seven minutes of added time at the end of the game, due largely to Peter Clarke's injury, and Bennett had to be alert in the final seconds to push away a decent Ibehre header and maintain Town's two goal margin.


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

Ian Bennett; Calum Woods (Tom Clarke 51), Peter Clarke (c), Sean Morrison, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward, Damien Johnson, Tommy Miller, Scott Arfield (Kallum Higginbotham 27); Lee Novak, Jordan Rhodes (Alan Lee 84)

Unused subs: Alex Smithies, Anton Robinson

Town bookings: Peter Clarke (25); Tommy Miller (70)

Attendance: 11,983

Town fans: 3,481

    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.