Town play out a draw in controversial derby
Town closed out 2012 with a point as they drew 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday in a controversial Yorkshire derby.
The main talking point from the game surrounded referee Russell who allowed Jeremy Helan to stay on the pitch despite showing the Wednesday winger two yellow cards in the first half.
Chances were at a plenty throughout the game and spread between both teams. The best for Town fell to James Vaughan at the death when he volleyed wide; Simon Church had earlier had a good chance saved by Chris Kirkland.
The visitors caused Town plenty of chances and forced Alex Smithies in to a number of good saves; Gary Madine also missed an open goal.
Simon Grayson made five changes to the team that drew with Blackpool on Boxing Day for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday.
Making his full debut for the Club was Murray Wallace who replaced the injured Calum Woods in the left-back position. Also in defence, Joel Lynch returned to his customary centre back position in place of Peter Clarke following his suspension.
In midfield Simon Grayson selected Chris Atkinson and Adam Hammill over Oliver Norwood and Sean Scannell and upfront Simon Church replaced James Vaughan.
In contrast to Town’s Boxing Day start the one made against Wednesday in their final outing of 2012 would have given fans some light relief.
The Terriers looked far brighter than against Blackpool and forced Chris Kirkland in to the first save of the game within a minute when Simon Church’s tame overhead kick landed grateful in his hands.
From there though the visitors dominated the next twenty minutes; with Alex Smithies coming to Town’s rescue on a number of occasions. Firstly the stopper parried away Reda Johnson’s dangerous cross before making a great save with his legs to deny Jeremy Helan after he had dashed past Anthony Gerrard and Jack Hunt.
The Owls continued to pile on the pressure with Gary Madine going close in the middle of the box after more good play from Helan.
The on loan Manchester City defender was then shown a booking after diving in the box under Hunt’s challenge. Helan along with referee Mick Russell then took centre stage as one of the biggest shambles of the season took place. In attempt to deny Adam Hammill breaking forward, Helan fouled Town’s on loan winger and was shown his second yellow, but no red card. Despite Town’s pleas the referee seemed unmoved and allowed the defender to stay on the pitch and continue for Wednesday.
The situation only added to what was already a fiery affair and Town looked in danger of losing their heads. The Terriers were playing themselves into trouble at the back and were almost caught when Kieran Lee was on the end of a Wednesday counter, but he fired high and wide.
Town composed themselves as the half drew to a close and began troubling Wednesday’s gigantic back line. After good play from Adam Clayton and Hunt the former swung in a deep ball which was superbly controlled and hit by Simon Church, but he was denied by the legs of the onrushing Kirkland.
Midfielder Chris Aktinson then went close for the Terriers in the box following a scramble at a corner as a dramatic and pulsating half was ended by referee Russell.
Wednesday, still with Helan in the their eleven, started the half well and almost capitalised on more poor Town defending, but Michail Antonio couldn’t direct his shot from the edge of the area on target.
Antonio, as he has done in the past, was causing Town problems at the back and he very nearly set-up Wednesday’s opener with ten minutes of the half played. The winger bundled through Lynch and Wallace before cutting the ball across for Madine, but the lanky striker failed to connect cleanly with the cross.
On the hour mark the Terriers began to build up a head of steam with Southern heading straight at Kirkland after excellent play from Hammill and then Beckford fired over on the turn after a superb headed pass from substitute James Vaughan, who had replaced Church in attack.
Wednesday introduced Mamady Sidibe in attempt to break the deadlock and the former Stoke man almost did the trick. The tall striker firstly volleyed wide when presented with a half chance and then forced Smithies in to a great save up high when he punched a header in to the ground from a corner.
The final chance of an enthralling Yorkshire derby fell to the Terriers when Vaughan raced on to Dixon’s clearance and volleyed just wide from a difficult position.
Town’s team (4-4-2):
Alex Smithies; Murray Wallace, Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Jack Hunt (Paul Dixon, 70); Adam Clayton, Keith Southern, Chris Atkinson (Sean Scannell, 62), Adam Hammill; Simon Church (James Vaughan, 62), Jermaine Beckford
Ian Bennett, Oliver Norwood, Peter Clarke, Lee Novak
Bookings Town: Jack Hunt 22, Adam Hammill 30, Paul Dixon 79
Bookings Wednesday: Jeremy Helan 9 + 26 (not sent off), Reda Johnson 45