Huddersfield Town suffered opening day heartbreak at Cardiff tonight going down to a 91st minute winner from defender Mark Hudson.
Despite bossing the possession statistics the home side rarely tested Alex Smithies during the 90 minutes and it was left to a defender to do the damage for the Bluebirds when he connected cleanly with a knock down from six yards out.
Town went close on a number of occasions through Oliver Norwood and Scott Arfield and would have fully deserved their point, but left South Wales empty handed in the cruellest of circumstances.
Jordan Rhodes was the only casualty for the Terriers following the midweek international games. The Scottish international failed a late fitness test after suffering a hamstring injury during the match against Australia and his place in the side was taken by No9 Lee Novak.
Cardiff, wearing red, started well in front of a loud home crowd and created the first chance of the game when Don Cowie played a neat one two with Heidar Helguson before screwing a shot from the edge of the area harmlessly wide.
Simon Grayson’s men looked calm and composed on the ball during the opening stages and created a glorious chance to open the scoring in the eighth minute when Lee Novak slipped in Scott Arfield who from ten yards drove low with his shot, but saw it saved well by Ben Marshall.
Despite the home side’s good early pressure it was the Terriers who were next to have a shy on goal when Northern Ireland international Ollie Norwood took aim from 25 yards and sent a dipping shot at the Cardiff goal, which Marshall did well to beat away to safety.
Former Birmingham City midfielder Jordan Mutch went close for the home side on 21 minutes with a volley from the edge of the area. However, for all Cardiff’s pressure they were failing to create any real openings and as the half passed by, Town’s confidence grew. With six minutes remaining of the half Norwood illustrated his class forcing Marshall into a full length save with a superb dipping volley from 30 yards, after good work from Adam Clayton.
A Craig Bellamy set-piece in the 44th minute produced Cardiff’s best chance of the half when summer signing Helguson leapt highest and smashed a header against Alex Smithies’ bar before Lynch did well to clear the danger.
As referee West blew time on the half it ended a frustrating 45 for the home side who despite having the majority of possession had seen their ‘keeper be called upon far more often than Alex Smithies.
HALF TIME – CARDIFF CITY 0 0 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
The first ten minutes of the half passed by with little incident. Adam Clayton picked up the first yellow of the new season with a crunching tackle on Mutch before Bellamy tried on the volley, but saw it land tamely in the arms of Smithies.
The second 45 continued in a similar theme to the first with the men in red dominating possession, but with Town looking the more dangerous on the counter. The Terriers enjoyed a decent spell of possession on the hour mark which resulted in right-back
Jack Hunt cutting inside Andrew Taylor before rifling an effort just over the bar with his weaker left foot.
Hunt’s effort livened up the game and within two minutes both teams had gone close. Firstly, Peter Clarke had to clear off the line after Smithies had spilled Cowie’s shot and then at the other end Arfield did superbly well to step his marker inside the box, but was crowded out just as he went to pull the trigger.
Welsh international Bellamy had been kept quiet by Hunt up until the 70th minute when the former Liverpool man sparked in to life. After receiving the ball just inside Town’s area he glided past Clarke and found McNaughton with a pull-back, but his shot to the far post was brilliantly turned behind by Smithies.
Town continued to look dangerous going forward as the game neared its conclusion and after Novak had earlier seen his effort deflected wide; Arfield went within inches of opening the scoring with a curling effort which Marshall tipped around the post at full stretch.
Joe Mason, who had replaced Don Cowie in the 79th minute, spurned an excellent chance to win his side three points in the 89th minute when he blazed over from eight yards after skipping inside Clayton.
That proved to be irrelevant though because in the first of five additional minutes defender Mark Hudson was quickest to react to Joe Mason’s knock down and he fired home powerfully from eight yards out.
FULL TIME – CARDIFF CITY 1 0 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Joel Lynch, Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Oliver Norwood, Keith Southern, Adam Clayton; Sean Scannell (Jimmy Spencer 93), Lee Novak, Scott Arfield (Anthony Gerrard 92)
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Alan lee, Anton Robinson, Kallum Higginbotham
Bookings Town: Adam Clayton 52, Keith Southern 58, Anthony Gerrard 94