REPORT: DERBY COUNTY 1-1 TOWNCollin Quaner's second league goal in the space of four days looked set to hand Huddersfield Town a vital three points until a late strike from Jacob Butterfield earned host Derby County with a share of the spoils.
In a game where chances were few and far between, Town competed well throughout, and was highly unlucky to come away from Pride Park with just a point.
Butterfield's effort found the corner via a cruel deflection off Jonathan Hogg; a slice of luck which far from epitomised a performance of tactical and physical solidity within most parts of the Terriers' play.
Following on from the last outing against Preston, four changes were made to the Town starting eleven; Dean Whitehead captained the side in the place of Philip Billing, Martin Cranie slotted in at right-back for Tommy Smith, and Joe Lolley took the place of Jonathan Hogg. The final change saw Friday's hero Quaner lead the line ahead of Nahki Wells.
The tall German's hunger to increase his Sky Bet Championship goal tally evidently came to light within the opening passages; after making up large swathes of Pride Park turf, Quaner's presence was enough to force Irish international Richard Keogh into mis-controlling a pass, allowing Town to build a positive break-away.
Former Union Berlin man Quaner fed a buoyant Chris Loewe on the left-hand side who advanced to the edge of the area before delivering a potentially dangerous cross; however, Loewe's hard-work wasn't used to the full advantage, as Elias Kachunga took a tumble at the most vital of times to allow the home side to clear.
Incisive passing would make headway for the opening goal of the game. Dean Whitehead's clever threaded pass to Joe Lolley found the winger with valuable room to work in. Lolley's touch allowed the space to be creatively explored, as he thread a perfect pass through to Cranie on the right hand side. The full back then provided a pinpoint cross to Quaner who expertly guided home past a stricken Carson into the far corner.
Collin's second league goal in as many matches sent the raucous Huddersfield Town following into dreamland; the buzz of the opener could well have been abruptly quashed just moments after Town went ahead, however.
When Town failed to adequately deal with a Derby corner, Tom Ince received the ball once again on the right-flank; he delivered a teasing ball for Darren Bent who eventually bundled the ball home. Town blushes were spared nonetheless, with the linesman's flag coming to the rescue on this particular occasion.
From then on, chances became harder to bargain for; Quaner this time putting in a shift at the other end to heroically throw his body in-front of another Bent effort from reaching the back of the net.
Yet again, the Town front-man found himself the centre attention shortly after the second Bent chance; Elias Kachunga slid a perfectly weighted through ball beyond a static Rams defence, only to be dubiously denied a clear run on goal by the other linesman's flag on the near side - a major let-off for the home side.
Another key member of Derby's squad aimed to bring the home side back into the contest. Matej Vydra, the man to this time cause a second of thought for the rigid Town defence through inventive positioning. Firstly, the Czech couldn't connect with Cyrus Christie's floated delivery, before a quick free-kick found the striker in space but could only fire wide of the target - albeit after great defensive work from the regularly impressive Christopher Schindler to make up ground and close off the angle for the strike.
The host's first shot on target actually came five minutes into the second period; Scottish international Ikechi Anya saw an effort tipped round the post by an agile Danny Ward, with the resulting corner following suit as Anya's rebounded effort fell harmlessly into the gloves of the loanee 'keeper.
Dean Whitehead and Aaron Mooy were dogged about their play in the centre of the park against a midfield duo of Will Hughes and Bradley Johnson, supported by a solid partnership of Michael Hefele and Christopher Schindler in the defensive ranks; Kachunga, Lolley, Quaner and van La Parra also did an excellent job of restricting Gary Rowett's men to large quantities of possession in areas where the game was not going to be under threat of being in the balance.
Alex Pearce would have been heavily thanked by the people of Derby following the next Town chance; Rajiv van La Parra showed his flair and quality down the left to beat and skip away from his marker before squaring for an un-marked Quaner. Rajiv's pass was agonisingly cleared by Pearce just as the goal-scorer was about to tuck the ball home and double the advantage.
However, the heart-breaking equaliser came in the form of ex-Terrier Jacob Butterfield just two minutes from the end.
After Pearce headed just over from a close-range Ikechi Anya free-kick, Butterfield took advantage of a loose ball on the edge of the area to level up the scores; the substitute getting his name of the score-sheet via an unlucky Jonathan Hogg ricochet past Danny Ward who admittedly had a very slim chance of keeping the effort out.
In response, Town kept coming, kept being confidently calm in possession to create opportunities, and also kept relatively solid at the back with crucial interceptions to break up any possible County attacks.
Aaron Mooy led the way; the Australian surged into acres of space between the Derby defensive and midfield units before sliding to one of Town's own substitutes in the form of Nahki Wells.
The Bermudian, under pressure from a recovering Alex Pearce, fired across goal but only managed to see the ball sail wide of Scott Carson's net; the effort rounding off a performance full of passion throughout, with only an unfortunate deflection quashing Town's hopes of walking away from the East Midlands with maximum points over the busy Easter period of fixtures.
Town’s Line-Up (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Loewe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Martin Cranie (Tommy Smith, 61'); Aaron Mooy, Dean Whitehead (c); Rajiv van La Parra (Nahki Wells, 67'), Elias Kachunga, Joe Lolley (Jonathan Hogg, 79'); Collin Quaner
Joel Coleman, Mark Hudson, Sean Scannell, Jack Payne
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