William Boyle goal gives Town eighth straight win
- Under-21s make it eight straight wins
- William Boyle nets only goal in first-half
- Fraser Horsfall sent off for Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield Town’s Under-21 side made it eight straight wins courtesy of a single goal victory over visitors Sheffield United at PPG Canalside on Monday afternoon.
The win was all the more impressive given the young Terriers had to achieve it with 10 men after centre back Fraser Horsfall was sent off midway through the first-half.
Instead of retreating into a defensive mind-set, Senior Professional Development Coach Frankie Bunn stayed positive and his team’s braveness was rewarded by Captain William Boyle’s set piece goal.
The visiting Blades actually started as the better of the two sides and pressed Town back into their own half through a series of set piece situations in the opening quarter of an hour, but the best effort they could muster was a 17th minute strike from David Brooks that was dragged well wide of target.
Town’s first real effort followed in the 25th minute when the ball was won back deep in Sheffield United territory. Rekeil Pyke prodded a ball through for strike partner Jake Charles and the Welsh youngster’s instinctive first-time effort was deflected just wide of target.
Unfortunately, Town had Horsfall sent off from the resulting corner for an off the ball altercation with United striker Jake Wright, who was at the centre of several flashpoints throughout the tie. Town’s first year professional was rightly given his marching orders by the referee.
Bunn could have easily reshuffled his pack to keep his defensive four intact, but instead opted to keep three at the back; moving full backs Jack Senior and Jacob Hanson infield to join Boyle.
That adjustment was accompanied by a slight change in playing style, with the Terriers using the counter-attack to good effect thanks largely to the passing range of Regan Booty and athleticism of Academy scholar Pyke. As a result, Town didn’t look a man short all afternoon and more than held their own.
Visiting striker Wright went close with a smart turn and shot from the edge of the box that flashed just wide of goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan’s goal just after the half hour, but Bunn’s side soon responded and Ronan Coughlan forced goalkeeper George Long into a low near post save after Duane Holmes found him with a short free kick routine.
The only goal of the game followed in the 34th minute. A Town corner from the left was initially cleared to the other side by a defender, but when the ball was returned it was centre back Boyle who was the most determined to get there and he sent the ball into the far corner with his outstretched leg for his third goal of the U21 season.
Skipper Boyle brought down Connor Dimaio in a dangerous position on the edge of the penalty box D as half time closed in, but the midfielder could only send the free kick into the outside of the side netting.
The Blades went close again after a good spell when Brooks hit a presentable chance well wide from 18 yards out at full stretch.
Town continued to control the game impressively in the second half and forced the first chance of the second 45 minutes almost immediately upon the restart. Booty’s ball picked out Pyke’s good run into the left channel and he entered the area before forcing Long into routine near post work.
United coach Chris Morgan eventually started to move other players up front and Bunn responded by introducing centre back Danny Kane to the action. The Ireland Under-19 captain did well, but almost gifted United an equaliser in the 75th minute when his uncertain headed back-pass stranded goalkeeper Ryan; thankfully the angle was too narrow for the onrushing United player to take advantage.
Town kept the visitors at bay for the most part, with substitute Ben Holmes producing one excellent block to snuff out a good shooting opportunity and goalkeeper Ryan rushing out to clear a ball mere inches ahead of a striker. In the end, the Blades’ best effort was an 88th minute diving header from striker Wright that arrowed wide of target.
Highlights from the game will appear on HTTV
Town’s team (4-4-2 diamond):
Tadhg Ryan; Jack Senior, William Boyle (c), Fraser Horsfall, Jacob Hanson; Regan Booty, Duane Holmes, Sondre Tronstad (Danny Kane, 66), Ronan Coughlan; Jake Charles (Ben Holmes, 71), Rekeil Pyke
Sam Guthrie, Callum Charlton, Jack Boyle
Duane Holmes (71), Jack Senior (82)
Fraser Horsfall (26)