Ridehalgh and Crooks get the goals
Huddersfield Town’s Development Squad was very impressive in recording a deserved 3-0 win against Evo-Stik League side Radcliffe Borough in Greater Manchester, with Liam Ridehalgh and Matt Crooks grabbing the goals.
Left back Ridehalgh was clinical in finishing off two early chances to virtually decide the tie in the opening quarter of an hour, whereas rangy midfielder Crooks sealed a good evening’s work with a simple finish in the latter stages of the game.
The Terriers controlled play throughout the 90 minutes, keeping the ball off the hosts and patiently carving out chances, and were good value for their first win of pre-season.
Steve Eyre had the know-how of Alan Lee leading the line for his side on the evening with new professionals Matt Crooks and Max Leonard playing just off him in wider positions.
The development side also contained two trialists; midfielder Scott Kay, formerly of Manchester City, also featured in the Development Squad’s midweek game at Liverpool, whereas centre back Brett Lucas (ex-Doncaster Rovers) was making his debut for the Terriers.
Along with Lee in attack, the Town side also featured the relatively experienced Liam Ridehalgh, Tom Clarke and Anton Robinson as well as Ian Bennett – a veteran of over 500 Football League games.
Town’s superior quality showed from the off, with Steve Eyre’s side dominating possession and controlling the game for large periods. It only took four minutes for the first clear chance to fall Town’s way, but midfielder Matt Crooks’ touch uncharacteristically let him down with the goal at his mercy.
However, the handful of travelling fans didn’t have to wait long for the first goal. Trialist Kay’s looping ball over the right back was good enough for Ridehalgh to stride onto and he brushed the final defender aside with ease before blasting the ball past the helpless ‘keeper from close range.
Up front Alan Lee’s movement was impressive and he found space at the back post to convert Jordan Sinnott’s low cross – but instead the former Republic of Ireland international totally missed the ball with his right foot!
Town continued to boss proceedings and Ridehalgh’s second followed in the 14th minute. The left back has never scored for the Club in a competitive game, but his loan spells away seem to have brought on his attacking qualities and another surging forward run was picked out by the impressive Tom Clarke’s raking diagonal ball. Liam’s touch was perfect and he took the ball in his stride before calmly stroking the ball past the advancing ‘keeper with his right foot – a different kind of finish to his first.
Radcliffe had a goal ruled out for a clear offside in a rare first half attack following the second but the pattern of play didn’t change. With a two goal cushion Town were slightly guilty of over-complicating the final ball at times, but trialist defender Lucas and Lee both fired wide with presentable chances before the half came to a close with Eyre’s men two goals to the good.
Town’s Development Coach conducted his half-time team talk on the pitch during the interval, but looked to be happily delivering instructions as opposed to the more famous precedent set by Phil Brown a few years ago!
First year Academy scholar Kedesh Goddard was introduced at right back during the interval and showed some very assured touches throughout the half. Another man to come to the fore was midfielder Robinson, who went close twice when his good runs beyond the strikers were picked out; first he fired wide before being thwarted by a good block from the ‘keeper later in the second period.
Town survived a scare just before the hour mark when Burke – now at left back – brought down the lively Radcliffe right winger in the area, but in typical fashion Ian Bennett came to the rescue; saving the subsequent penalty with his trailing leg as he dived to his right side!
Eyre’s men made three with 17 minutes left to play; Matt Crooks drifted in from the left flank to play a one-two with Alan Lee, breaking into the box before calmly sliding the ball underneath the ‘keeper from close range with an air of class.
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Ian Bennett; Liam Ridehalgh (Kedesh Goddard 46), Tom Clarke, Brett Lucas, James Burke; Scott Kay, Jordan Sinnott, Anton Robinson; Matt Crooks, Alan Lee (Danny Morton 78), Max Leonard (Connor Loftus 60)