REPORT: TOWN 1-1 FULHAM
A second goal in as many games from Mark Hudson secured Town a point in a hotly contested game against Fulham at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Just like last season’s meeting, the Terriers went behind very early on – but on this occasion they found a way back into the game, with a set piece providing the route once again after two corner goals in the midweek win over Charlton.
Fulham, under new Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic, played a very similar style to Town and became the first side to enjoy more possession against David Wagner’s Terriers. However, it was Town who created the biggest chances to win the game – although they perhaps didn’t exploit the ball in behind Fulham’s high defensive line as much as they should have.
Town controlled the ball in the first few minutes, but couldn’t get out of their defensive third as Fulham pressed quite high. That paid off for the visitors inside two minutes, thanks largely to a big error in possession.
Jonathan Hogg dropped between the two centre backs to get on the ball and tried to find full debutant James Husband with a cross field pass. Unfortunately he didn’t get the desired elevation on the pass and instead gifted the ball to danger man Ross McCormack on the edge of the penalty area. The Scotsman, who had netted four goals against Town in his last three appearances, made no mistake, drawing Jed Steer before sliding the ball calmly home.
Jamie Paterson – a scorer in Town’s last two games – went very close to restoring parity in the score-line inside 10 minutes. Picking up the ball on the left, he stepped inside a defender and curled a beautiful shot towards the far corner that beat goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, only to thump against the post.
Fulham’s players thought they had scored again just after the quarter hour mark when a cross from the Town left found its way to winger Alex Kacaniklic and he placed home, but McCormack was the initial target and was correctly flagged offside by the assistant.
A minute later the striker had a penalty claim turned down by the referee after going down under Hudson’s challenge just inside the area; Mr Sarginson wasted no time in waving the claims away.
Instead, Town took advantage of another set piece to draw level in the 20th minute. After waiting 23 appearances for a goal, Mark Hudson got his second in as many games against the Club where he started his career. After Emyr Huws was brought down by Jamie O’Hara on the right, Huws curled the ball invitingly into the box and Hudson broke the offside trap before poking the ball at full stretch past Lonergan’s left side.
On the half hour mark, Wagner’s side started to play a bit longer than we’ve previously seen to take advantage of Fulham’s high defensive line and went very close to putting players through on several occasions, only to be denied by the offside flag or last ditch stretches from centre halves Burn and Hutchinson.
At the other end, Hudson executed an excellent sliding block in the six yard box to stop another goal-bound effort from McCormack.
Visiting custodian Lonergan made the save of the game inside five minutes of the second half. Fantastic reactive pressure from Paterson saw the diminutive attacker win the ball off the Fulham defence and presented Harry Bunn with a shooting chance; the goalkeeper blocked his left footed drive before somehow getting across to keep out a follow-up on the turn from Lolley that looked destined for the corner.
Fulham’s best chance of the second half came just after the 70 minute mark when substitute striker Moussa Dembele – Town’s tormenter in the FA Youth Cup a couple of years ago – headed Luke Garbutt’s cross wide of target when well positioned in the area.
In the end, neither side could maintain good possession of the ball under pressure from the opposition and both sides took the draw.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; James Husband, Martin Cranie, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Emyr Huws, Jonathan Hogg; Joe Lolley (Duane Holmes, 79), Jamie Paterson, Harry Bunn (Joel Lynch, 88); Nahki Wells (Flo Bojaj, 90)
Joe Murphy, Jason Davidson, Ishmael Miller, Philip Billing
Mark Hudson (32), Harry Bunn (68)