Town’s pre-season campaign draws to a close
7,951 Town fans watched as Town’s pre-season preparations concluded with a 2-0 defeat against La Segunda outfit, Barcelona B.
Despite the result, Simon Grayson will be able to take plenty of positives from the performance which saw Sean Scannell introduced himself to his new fans with an electric display of wing-play.
Town spent the first five minutes of their final friendly of pre-season chasing the ball as Barcelona B, in the Club’s famous style, retained possession and passed the ball around the lush outfield at the Stadium.
When Town did get the ball during the opening stages they were looking to get it forward as quickly as possible from midfield; a method, which in the sixth minute, brought the home side’s first sight on goal when Oliver Norwood went long to Jordan Rhodes who scuffed a left footed effort tamely wide.
Town’s visitors responded quickly and had two efforts in five minutes when firstly Agostinho Ca’s shot was deflected wide and then Jean Marie Dongou sliced wide from 18 yards under pressure from Peter Clarke and Jack Hunt.
Barcelona weren’t having it all their way though; in the 15th minute Sean Scannell gave the home fans something to shout about when he darted past Ivan Balliu before winning Town’s first corner, which Peter Clarke headed over at the far post. Town were also showing their strength in midfield with both Adam Clayton and Keith Southern leaving nothing behind with a couple of full-blooded tackles.
After the visitors had a decent penalty shout turned down, Lee Novak and Scannell linked up nicely down the right allowing the latter to drive a ball across goal, which was begging to be hit home, but there wasn’t a Town player in-sight.
Scannell had been teaching the Barcelona players a thing or two about wing play during the first half and in the 43rd minute he lifted the Town fans’ voices again when he cut inside two Barcelona players before switching play to Novak, who hit his cross just behind the onrushing Rhodes.
As the half entered its final few minutes left-back, Paul Dixon became the unlikely source for two Novak chances. Firstly he raced on to Clayton’s precise ball before seeing his cross to the back stick cleared by Alejandro Grimaldo, preventing Novak a tap in. Moments later, the Scotsman was at it again, this time he found Novak, but his header was comfortably into the arms of Jordi Masip.
HALF-TIME – HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0 0 BARCELONA B
Eusebio Sacristan made eight changes during the half-time interval with the most notable of those been the introduction of Gerard Deulofeu, a player who had recently been linked with a move to Liverpool.
The visitors started the second 45 well with Cristian Lobato forcing Peter Clarke to deflect his goal bound shot wide after a neat flick from Far Kiko. Kiko was in the action again two minutes later when he played a neat one two around Lynch with Luis Alberto before forcing Alex Smithies into a smart save at his near post.
Kiko continued to impress for the Spanish outfit as the game neared the hour mark and it was his good work and skill that created a chance for Luis Alberto, but the striker failed to test Alex Smithies from eight yards.
After failing to get a hold of the ball for the first 15 minutes of the half, Simon Grayson opted to make a change to his formation and went 4-4-2 with Scannell partnering Rhodes in attack and Danny Ward coming on for Norwood.
The change didn’t prevent the Barcelona onslaught and in the 63rd minute their persistence finally paid when Dixon brought down Deulofeu in the box, who dusted himself down and calmly slotted past Smithies.
Unlike in the first half, Town were unable to prevent the Barcelona players finding pockets of space and they were punished again in the 70th minute when Sergio Araujo was on hand to finish after Luis Alberto had seen his shot well saved by Smithies.
In the 75th minute Town fashioned their first chance of the half when substitute Ward closed down well and fed Rhodes, who in turn found Chris Atkinson whose shot failed to trouble Masip. Town’s second chance quickly followed when Scannell and Hunt linked up nicely allowing the latter to cross first time on to the head of Jimmy Spencer, who flicked a header wide.
The home side’s late surge continued as the game entered the final ten minutes with Clayton going close with a low drive before Masip was forced to divert Spencer’s near post flick after good work from Atkinson down the right.
Town almost grabbed a deserved goal in the dying minutes when more good work from Scannell saw him glide past two Barcelona players before smashing a shot just over Masip’s goal.
FULL TIME – HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0 2 BARCELONA B
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon (Calum Woods, 70), Joel Lynch (Murray Wallace, 88), Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Oliver Norwood (Danny Ward, 62), Keith Southern (Oscar Gobern, 70), Adam Clayton; Lee Novak (Chris Atkinson, 75), Jordan Rhodes (Jimmy Spencer, 81), Sean Scannell