Nine man Town lose at promotion hopefuls
It was a sorry afternoon for the nine Huddersfield Town players who walked off the pitch after losing 3-1 to Derby County.
It had started with promise though, when Nahki Wells gave Town an early lead with his sixth goal for the Club; however from there it got slowly worse.
Johnny Russell equalised in the 28th minute before Joel Lynch was sent off for his second booking on the stroke of half-time. Alex Smithies fumbled Craig Forsyth’s cross into his own net before Chris Martin netted from the spot after Peter Clarke had been sent off for a foul on Will Hughes.
Town still had over a third of the game to play with just nine men at this point, but they showed plenty of spirit to keep the Rams to just a two goal advantage.
In a half which saw Town lose Joel Lynch to two yellow cards, the Terriers battled manfully against a fluid Derby attack.
The home team, who knew a win would take them back up to third in the Championship, pressed quickly in the opening stages of the match and forced the first chance in the third minute. Former Terrier Richard Keogh fired over from three yards after Alex Smithies had blocked well from Johnny Russell.
The Terriers lost 3-0 at Derby last season, but this time around they took the lead thanks to some excellent individual play by Danny Ward.
The winger had moments earlier had what looked like a stonewall turned down by referee Darren Deadman following a collision with Jake Buxton. However, after receiving a floated pass from Adam Clayton in the 14th minute, he darted past his marker before sliding the ball across to Nahki Wells who tapped home.
It could have been two for Town with 21 minutes on the clock, but Derby ‘keeper Lee Grant saved one handed to deny Wells after he had latched on to Keogh’s short back pass.
Patrick Bamford headed over a good chance a minute later as County began to work back into the game. It was the fluidity of Derby’s front three that was the major headache for Town’s defence and on the half hour mark Russell ran through to flick home from George Thorne’s threaded through ball.
Town’s task of holding on to the point, or pushing on for more, was dealt a huge blow three minutes before half time when Joel Lynch received his marching orders. The central defender – playing at left-back today – had earlier been booked for wasting time at a throw in and when he connected late on Bamford, referee Deadman had no choice.
The recipient of Lynch’s foul had a great opportunity to give his side the lead at the interval, but Bamford blazed over from 12 yards.
Bamford wasn’t made to rue his miss though, as by the 57th minute Derby were two goals ahead and Town down to nine men.
Smithies gifted the Rams their second; Town’s stopper failed to take control of Forsyth’s straight forward cross and inadvertently fumbled the ball into his own goal.
The ‘keeper went someway to making amends a few minutes later when he denied Bamford, but he could do nothing to prevent Chris Martin slotting home from the spot. Peter Clarke was adjudged to have fouled Will Hughes in the box and like Lynch; he was given his marching orders.
Clayton had worked tirelessly for Town all match and he almost gave the travelling faithful something to shout about when he drove just wide in the 85th minute.
It hadn’t been the best of afternoons for Smithies, but he showed his quality to keep out Jamie Ward for a fourth with a superb point blank save three minutes from time.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Peter Clarke (c), Anthony Gerrard, Calum Woods; Jonathan Hogg, Adam Clayton; Danny Ward, Oliver Norwood (Murray Wallace, 59), Adam Hammill (Tommy Smith, 46); Nahki Wells (Sean Scannell, 74)
Ian Bennett, Oscar Gobern, Duane Holmes, Harry Bunn
Bookings Town: Peter Clarke 5 + 57 (red card), Joel Lynch 31 + 43 (red card), Anthony Gerrard 57