Town draw a blank in entertaining derby
Huddersfield Town maintained their unbeaten start on home soil with an entertaining draw against Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers.
Both teams had plenty of chances to score, but it was a day for the ‘keepers as both Alex Smithies and Ross Turnbull made vital interceptions to keep out the opposition.
Joel Lynch had arguably the best chance of the game when he rattled the woodwork at the far post with minutes of the match remaining.
Martin Paterson, fresh from his midweek goal for Northern Ireland, returned to the starting line-up in place of Sean Scannell while Calum Woods made his first start of the season, as Mark Robins made two changes to the team that lost to Barnsley prior to the international break.
New signing Jazz Richards’ international clearance had failed to come through in time for the game, meaning he would have to wait until Charlton on Tuesday to make his debut.
Former Terrier Theo Robinson lined up in attack for Rovers and he tried to make an immediate impression on his return to the John Smith’s Stadium with a speculative shot with just 15 seconds of the game played.
Despite Theo’s strike being wayward it set the tone for the opening quarter of the game, which was dominated by the away team.
David Cotterill took advantage of some poor Town defending to force Alex Smithies into his first save before Chris Brown rose highest at the far post to produce a superb one handed stop from the ‘keeper. Paul Dickov’s men did have the ball in the net via Brown moments later, but it was chalked off by referee Tierney who had deemed Robinson to have fouled Smithies in the air.
Rovers’ set-piece routines were a particular highlight of their play during the half and had it not been for the agility of James Vaughan in the 22nd minute, they could have been ahead courtesy of one. Town’s top scorer did superbly to clear on the line from Robinson’s scuffed after Peter Clarke had seconds before blocked Brown’s goal bound effort.
Vaughan, unsurprisingly, was offering the Terriers’ biggest goal threat; he forced Ross Turnbull into his first save with a low shot in the 24th minute before he almost converted Paterson’s low cross just after the half hour mark, but was blocked out well at the near post.
The away side finished the half on top, though, and with Town down to men due to a cut to Anthony Gerrard’s head, Rovers found Cotterill at the back post whose volley was excellently blocked by a combination of Clarke and Joel Lynch.
Jon Stead was giving his biggest chance to make an impression for the Terriers since his return in the summer, as a half-time replacement for Martin Paterson.
Despite Robins’ change, Doncaster continued to enjoy the better chances and after Paul Keegan had fired wide, Smithies had to be at his best to deny Robinson at his feet after he had collected Wellens’ diagonal ball and cut inside Clarke.
Stead, who had now been joined by Sean Scannell from the bench, was making a good impression and it was his hard work on the hour mark which should have earned Town the opener. The tall striker received the ball down the right channel and with ease cut inside his marker Rob Jones before teeing Jonathan Hogg up to shoot wide, when he really should have hit the back of the net.
Scannell was having an equally positive effect and it was his side rule pass with 22 minutes to go which released Vaughan clear, but his instinctive shot on the run was well saved by Turnbull.
The winger’s domination of Rovers right-back Reece Wabara continued as the game drew towards a close. With ten minutes of the game to go he choose to run through the right back on his way to the by-line where his pull back found Vaughan, but the striker couldn’t connect as another chance went begging.
Doncaster were still a threat on the break, though, and Chris Brown may feel he should have done better in the 87th minute when he headed a cross the wrong side of Smithies’ goal.
Joel Lynch hit Turnbull’s post as Town pressed for a winner, but in the end a goal for either side just never came.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Peter Clarke (c); Adam Hammill (Danny Ward, 82), Jonathan Hogg, Oliver Norwood (Sean Scannell, 56), Adam Clayton, Calum Woods; Martin Paterson (Jon Stead, 46), James Vaughan
Ian Bennett, Oscar Gobern, Jake Carroll, Daniel Carr
Town bookings: Vaughan 43
Doncaster bookings: Wellens 45