REPORT: TOWN 1-3 BURNLEY
A poor first half cost Huddersfield Town dearly against the Sky Bet Championship’s top team Burnley at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Town conceded the first and last goal from corners, with the second killing the momentum that Joe Lolley’s strike had given them just before the interval.
The Terriers didn’t perform to their best in the first 45 minutes in the face of an impressive, aggressive opponent and although the second half was better, the goal that would have reignited the contest never came.
Burnley arrived at the John Smith’s Stadium as the division’s top scorers and continued in that vein by netting three goals in the first half.
The Clarets’ style of play isn’t complicated, but they are very good at executing the plan. Jones and Barton protects the solid back four whilst wingers George Boyd and former Town man Scott Arfield pushing forwards to support strikers Vokes and Andre Gray.
Centre backs Michael Keane and Ben Mee also add considerable aerial power from set pieces, but Town will still have been very disappointed to concede from two first half corners. The first came from the Town right, with Keane getting above Martin Cranie to nod the ball down and left back Stephen Ward throwing out a leg to instinctively knock the ball over the head of the man on the near post.
The second goal was very well worked and owed much to Championship top scorer Andre Gray. With Cranie and Jason Davidson marking him tightly by the touchline, he managed to squeeze the ball past them and into the path of winger Boyd. The former Peterborough man measured his low cross and laid the ball on a plate for Vokes, who gleefully smashed home.
With Burnley pressing hard in the middle of the pitch, Wagner’s men struggled to find their passing rhythm – but a superb individual piece of skill from Joe Lolley gave them a lifeline. Picking up the ball just outside the packed penalty area, he jinked past two challenges and curled the ball around goalkeeper Tom Heaton and into the far corner. It was his first home goal of the season on his 50th appearance for the Club.
However, Wagner will not have been pleased to see his team concede again from another set piece in first half added time. Jones went across to the Town right to whip a great ball towards the near post, where Mee had gained a yard on his marker to power a close range header past Jed Steer.
Town played better in the second half, finally finding their stride in passages and forcing Burnley onto the back foot. However, they needed to take one of their four chances to stand a chance of coming away with a result and the goal never came.
Jason Davidson came closest, hitting the outside of the post with a volley from just inside the penalty area after collecting a raking cross-field pass from lively substitute Jamie Paterson.
Fellow full back Tommy Smith had earlier laid a chance on a plate for a Town player with a superbly placed cross volley from another cross-field switch from Emyr Huws, but Sean Scannell couldn’t stretch to turn the ball into the net inside the six yard box.
Paterson was guilty of one miss after Lolley’s right-sided corner dropped to him around 15 yards out, slicing his volley wide from good space dead centre of goal.
Smith had another chance later in the half, hitting the ball over on his weaker left foot from the edge of the penalty area after a lay-back from Nahki Wells.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; Jason Davidson (James Husband, 84), Martin Cranie, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Emyr Huws, Dean Whitehead; Joe Lolley, Karim Matmour (Jamie Paterson, 55), Sean Scannell (Harry Bunn, 55); Nahki Wells
Joe Murphy, Kyle Dempsey, Joel Lynch, Flo Bojaj