Chris comments on Blackburn draw & Alex Smithies
- Chris Powell comments on home draw with Blackburn Rovers
- Manager happy to welcome Sean Scannell back into team
- Chris comments on Alex Smithies' absence from the squad
Manager Chris Powell says Huddersfield Town’s season got properly under way on Saturday after seeing his side pickup its first Sky Bet Championship point of 2015/16 courtesy of a 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Nahki Wells gave his side a first-half lead; something Powell felt was thoroughly deserved:
“It was a fantastic start. We knew we had to show some intent and get the crowd with us, which they certainly were; I think the players responded to it. We were excellent, which was just what was needed in the first league game of the season at home.
“Their ‘keeper made some good saves. In fact, just before Nahki scored he made an unbelievable block, but we followed it up and got a fully deserved goal. We looked good and confident; I thought everything was right for us. I thought the players stood up for themselves and played with real style at times, whilst defending manfully when they had to as well.
“You know what it’s like with Jordan Rhodes around and he certainly got his chance, but I Joe Murphy made a good save; that kept us focused.”
However, the Terriers were eventually pegged back by an equaliser from Rovers sub Nathan Delfouneso.
Chris continued: “In the second half we wanted to try and carry that on, but it got a bit loose. We still tested Raya in the goal, but then we conceded due to a lack of concentration on the hour.
“You have to battle through when you are under periods of pressure, which happen in games. The upper hand sometimes goes for and against you. You have to keep your shape as a team and look for different ways to win.
“Ishmael gave us a shift and was really tired, so we looked at Harry (Bunn) - not only to help out on the left-hand side, but also to go forward, which he did.
“You always look to take three points; you should never look to take a point so early on, as it only takes a second to score a goal. Sean Scannell was a threat and Nahki Wells had a terrific chance, which he wasn’t sure whether to take it on the chest or hit a volley. He’s been a shining light though.
“As time goes on, you look at whether it is right to go gung-ho. However, given what has happened with us so far this season, we have to start somewhere. We could have gone gung-ho and lost.
“It’s our second league game and our first point. We wanted to get our season up and running. I wanted three points and the way we performed today would have given us that on most days.
“It was the first home league game and you want to perform over 90 minutes, but this is something to build on after what happened to us on Tuesday. The players – under pressure – showed some character and the fans were good, sticking with them.
“We have another game in three days’ time and we have to carry on the good things we did today – which there were many of – to try and get our first win of the season. We’re looking forward to Brighton.”
Powell was happy to welcome Sean Scannell back into his starting XI after the winger’s recent hamstring injury:
“He’s major for us, but I still don’t think he’s anywhere near 100%. I looked at him and wondered if he should come off, but then he responds and goes again.
“He’s exciting. Fans come and want to see wing-play, with someone like Sean taking players on and getting crosses and shots in. He’s always a danger and we do miss him when he doesn’t play. I’m pleased to have him back and hopefully he will benefit from today.”
One notable absentee from the line-up was goalkeeper Alex Smithies and Powell confirmed post-match that the custodian is being courted by another club:
“There has been interest in Alex from another club. I found out on Friday night and made a decision, alongside the other people at the football club, that maybe it wasn’t right to play him. As a result, Joe (Murphy) continued in goal.
“When you choose a team, you have to make sure all XI that will play are right and ready to go out there and give their all. I know Alex would – he always has done as a first-class professional – but you have to look at every aspect for the team and the individual. Sometimes you have to make these decisions.
“I met Alex at the training ground this morning and between us, we felt it wasn’t right for him to play today.
“I really like Alex Smithies and everyone connected with the Club should be proud of him; he’s a local lad who has come through the system. I can’t stop interest from other clubs – nobody can – and we know that virtually every player has a price, whether that’s here or anywhere else around the world.
“There is no imminent news, but we will see what happens in the next day or two. Players don’t stay forever; things change if other clubs put in offers we cannot turn down.”
Alex’s absence gave the experienced Joe Murphy another chance to shine and Powell admitted he likes what he has seen from the Irishman.
“I’ve always liked Joe; he is a good goalie. All players want a run in the team and, if it happens. Joe will get that run. We then need to decide if we stick with Lloyd (Allinson), who is very young and untried in goalkeeping terms. If Alex does leave, we’ll address it.
“I’m comfortable with Joe, absolutely – and he knows that. He’s a good goalkeeper, which is why he’s here. He’s got the shirt ahead of Tuesday night’s game and beyond.”