Unbeaten record comes to an end
Town’s unbeaten start to the FA Premier Academy League season came to an end at Sheffield Wednesday’s Middlewood Training Complex on Saturday morning despite a good performance from the young Terriers.
However, the match was overshadowed by an injury to under 18 Captain Joe Wright, who went to hospital with a suspected broken right leg after coming out worst from a 50-50 challenge on the eve of half time.
Town under-18’s starting line-up was unchanged from the last game and there were real signs of cohesion all over the pitch, with Frankie Bunn’s side looking robust in defence and creative going forward. Creating far more chances than their opponents they could feel aggrieved at the defeat – but credit to the hosts for their clinical manner in front of goal.
Huddersfield started the game brightly, with midfielder Ben Holmes hitting the target with the first shot of the game inside four minutes before the Owls survived a penalty shout when Town striker Paul Mullin – who has signed a one year deal with the youth team after an impressive trial period – was clattered in the back when trying to connect with a Jake Charles cross from the right.
Town midfielder Kedesh Goddard’s power was evident throughout the game and his surging run led to another chance for Mullin in the 19th minute, who curled into the goalkeeper’s hands from the edge of the box.
The lively Mullin missed a golden chance five minutes later after centre half Will Boyle flicked a Thomas Briggs long-throw into his path – he volleyed powerfully over from around 10 yards out.
The hosts made Town pay just after the half hour mark, taking their first genuine chance in clinical fashion. Tall midfielder Ayo Obileye drifted into the area and produced a marvellous bit of skill to skip past Boyle before giving ‘keeper Ed Wilczynski no chance with a powerful 12 yard drive into the top corner.
Town replied to the setback well, showing great character; first winger George Conway had a goal ruled out for offside before a mazy dribble past three defenders from Mullin ended with a close range shot fired just too close to the home custodian.
Skipper Wright was then stricken on the pitch during the half time break after a brave challenge midway in the Town half – at full stretch his leg was caught accidentally by an opposing player. As the players gathered for the half-time team talks, Joe was stretchered from the field of play and taken to a local hospital with a suspected break.
Despite those distressing scenes, Town’s side kept its focus and soon restored parity in the scoreline. Midfielder Duane Holmes saw his powerful volley blocked by the high arm of a Wednesday player and he composed himself to fire high into the net, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. That strike maintains the midfielder’s run of scoring in every competitive under-18 game this season – that’s five in five for the second year scholar now.
Town maintained the initiative, with Mullin heading Briggs’ diagonal cross over the bar and the Terriers forcing several corners. Despite this, the hosts showed their clinical edge once again to retake the lead in the 67th minute; a right-sided cross was only half cleared by Boyle, allowing Jack Stobbs to run onto the ball and curl it past Wilczynski’s diving hand.
Bunn’s side never gave up, with the Wednesday ‘keeper soon forced to tip over a drive from Charles following his lung-bursting box to box run. The Wales under-17 international was back in the action again moments later, producing a superb cross from the left that Mullin headed narrowly over.
Charles had the ball in the net from a tight angle with 13 minutes remaining after his run was picked out perfectly by Duane Holmes’ diagonal – but once again the Assistant Referee ruled it out.
Mullin hit a deflected snapshot at the goalie before Town threw Boyle’s impressive aerial ability into attack alongside Mullin and substitute Sean Collins in the latter stages in search of an equaliser, but the best chance they could muster was a scuffed shot from Collins on the angle that the goalkeeper dealt with.
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Ed Wilczynski; Michael Starkey, William Boyle, Joe Wright (c) (Joe Wilkinson 46), Thomas Briggs; Kedesh Goddard, Ben Holmes, Duane Holmes; George Conway (Sean Collins 71), Paul Mullin, Jake Charles
Jordan Porter, Danny Morton
Thomas Briggs (60)