Preparations for the Championship season begin
Hundreds of Town fans travelled across the county to see Simon Grayson’s side kick off the 2012/13 pre-season with a game against Guiseley as the build-up to the Championship began!
Town’s senior squad was out in force against the Lions and the majority of the fit outfield players got a run-out, but despite some impressive individual performances Guiseley came out on top thanks to an early first half goal.
Town dominated the ball for large spells of the opening half against their Blue Square Bet North opponents, but it was the Lions who scored the only goal of the first 45 minutes – former Bradford City man Danny Forrest placing a precise shot past the diving Alex Smithies on the quarter hour mark after being played into the left side of Town’s penalty area.
For the sizeable number of Town fans at Nethermoor Stadium the most interesting aspect of the game was the chance to see Simon Grayson’s summer signings in action and one caught the eye in particular – Oliver Norwood. Playing in a midfield three alongside Oscar Gobern and Anton Robinson, the diminutive 21 year-old showed all the ability on the ball you would expect of a player brought up at Manchester United.
Elsewhere Sean Scannell – deployed down the left – showed all a willingness to get at his full-back despite an ankle knock that required treatment on the pitch from physio James Haycock within 10 minutes, whereas Paul Dixon and Murray Wallace looked solid on the left side of Town’s backline.
Alex Smithies had pulled off a great reaction save to push away a James Walshaw header at his near post before Guiseley opened the scoring, but otherwise the Wembley hero was untroubled as the Terriers kept the ball off their opponents. There was certainly a bit of rustiness about the players, as you would expect on their first outing of the campaign, but there were also passages of play to admire during the first half.
Kallum Higginbotham dragged a few long range shots wide before Norwood hit a precise 20 yard free-kick just inches wide of the post on 25 minutes after Gobern was felled by former Town player Andy Holdsworth.
Scottish under-20 international Wallace then picked out the intelligent run of striker Jimmy Spencer on the half hour mark with a superb ball forward and the Academy graduate, who had been quiet until then, hit a first time volley just wide of the far post.
Grayson deployed an entirely different eleven for the second half and the game didn’t flow quite as well as the first, with the home side making the usual raft of substitutions you see in pre-season. Among the players on the pitch was Adam Clayton, who did his best to display his range of raking passes as well as his spectrum of tackles – but as per usual the play seemed to magnetise to Jordan Rhodes.
There were other lively performances from the Town players – Danny Ward looking spritely in particular down the left in tandem with Liam Ridehalgh – but the best chances fell to the Scottish international. Rhodes blasted uncharacteristically high from range early on before his strike partner Alan Lee didn’t even make contact with the ball when trying to finish off a typically enterprising run from Jack Hunt.
Jordan was soon at it again, forcing Guiseley sub Mark Bower to bring him down on the edge of the area as he burst clear. Lee Novak stepped up to fire a powerful low drive towards goal, but custodian Steve Drench turned it away well.
Two minutes later Jordan looked certain to have scored, only for a defender to pull off a great near post block to deny last season’s top scorer from converting Novak’s cross.
Late on Rhodes held off defender Ainge to get goal side from Ridehalgh’s long clearance, but Bower redeemed his colleague with a sprawling block to stop his left footed shot.
Town’s first half team (4-3-3)
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Murray Wallace, Peter Clarke (c), Calum Woods; Anton Robinson, Oscar Gobern, Oliver Norwood; Sean Scannell, Jimmy Spencer, Kallum Higginbotham
Town’s second half team (4-4-2)
Ian Bennett; Liam Ridehalgh, Tom Clarke, Antony Kay, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward, Adam Clayton, Chris Atkinson, Lee Novak; Alan Lee (Matt Crooks 76), Jordan Rhodes