Chris reviews the 2-0 defeat against Middlesbrough
Huddersfield Town Manager Chris Powell believed there were some real positives to take from the side’s performance today, despite the 2-0 reversal at Middlesbrough.
Ahead of the game Powell had talked about what his team needed to do to arrest an away run that now consists of one point from the last six games on the road – and the Town boss believes he saw a lot of those traits at the Riverside.
“I’m upset with the result, but I have to be pleased with the performance and character from the players, Chris explained.
“Everyone knows about our poor away form and what we’ve been trying to do to put it right. We’ve worked on it in training and up until their first goal, things were going exactly as I wanted.
“We recognise a lot of teams have done that to us when they come to the John Smith’s Stadium and we have to do our best to stay in games and frustrate the opposition. We were doing that, with one or two breakaways, and we had a good discipline and shape about us.”
The Terriers were dealt a blow midway through the first-half when James Vaughan took a heavy blow to the head, with Powell opting to bring on midfielder Oscar Gobern in his place; a decision he explained after the final whistle:
“We were forced into a change when Vaughany came off, which led to Oscar coming on and playing slightly out of position. He got on with that job magnificently. Even after the second change we were still solid and had a good shape about us, as well as the togetherness you need away from home.
“We knew that they like to get out through the right back Kalas and that one of our midfielders would have to do that job on our left-hand side. We could have kept things the same or put ‘Scanz’ up front with Joe Lolley out wide, but we brought Oscar on.
“I could have brought Joe on, but we needed to be solid. When we’ve been too open we’ve got hurt, particularly away from home. The likes of Joe and Radi are forward-thinking players and we already had a fair few of those on the pitch. If we have too many on, we’ll lose more than we’ll win. I’ve got to get the balance right.
“I have to say that Oscar, alongside Lee Peltier – who has been on the fringes – did a sterling job.
“Joe (Lolley) is a player who I will get more minutes for. He’s part of the 18 and he’s got natural talent. He will be an important player in the second-half of the season, whether it’s off the bench or from the start.”
That move saw former Boro man Jacob Butterfield move higher up the pitch to aid Nahki Wells and the pairing played well in tandem.
“I thought Nahki was excellent when we got good service into him. We made sure Jacob Butterfield worked in tandem with him as we didn’t want to leave him isolated and I thought those two did very well.
“We backed them up with Sean Scannell, Oscar and Conor Coady going beyond them a couple of times.
“Nahki is in a confident place and rightly so. He could have scored a couple of times and he’s a danger. The more confident we get him, the better a player he will be. I know for a fact he will continue to score goals and lead the line for us in the up and coming games.”
Town fell behind to Lee Tomlin’s strike just after the hour mark, but Powell was delighted with the response from his side.
“I haven’t seen their first goal again yet, but it was a terrific strike from Tomlin.
“I suppose their goal kicked us into gear, because we really took the game to them. We really went on the front foot and I think they were taken aback.
“Their goalkeeper came to the fore with two outstanding saves, Nahki hit the post and Alex Smithies had a header cleared off the line in the 94th minute. I can accept their late breakaway, because I sent Alex up (for the corner) to try and get something.
“It finished 2-0, but there was a lot to like from my team today. I think we deserved a point. 2-0 will look like an easy win for Middlesbrough, but it was far from it. I’m sure our supporters saw our response and how we took the game to Middlesbrough.”
After the game Powell gave an update on Vaughan and Jonathan Hogg, who were both withdrawn through injury:
“Vaughany has gone to hospital and I hope he’s ok; hopefully his eye and cheekbone are ok. James was very groggy when he came off; there was no way he was carrying on as he didn’t know where he was. Let’s hope there’s no real lasting damage.
“Jon Hogg got a knock to his thigh, which was a real shame too.”
Although Vaughan’s availability for next weekend’s game at Wigan is currently unknown, Powell explained that the Club’s priority in the January window remains unchanged:
“It’s no secret, as I’ve said it before – we’re looking for a striker to help us out. Then again, so are a lot of other clubs. We knew that before the game and so far our inquiries haven’t come off. The Board and I know what we need and I’m hopeful it will happen.
“What I will say is that I trust my players and the squad I have. I’ve got the likes of Phil Billing on the bench today and Matt Crooks and Joe Wright in the squad, but I’ll use them. They are good players.”