A dominant second half performance from Town wasn’t enough to make up for a pair of first half individual errors as town slump to yet another loss on the road.
Huddersfield Town again fielded a bare thin side as they took on Bristol City. Town were still without leading marksman Josh Koroma, impressive young defender Rarmani Edmonds-Green, the general Jonathan Hogg and club captain and Wembley hero Christopher Schindler for their trip to a dark and wet Ashton Gate. Bristol City meanwhile fielded two Town promotion heroes with both Nahki Wells and Kasey Palmer starting for The Robins. Town came into this one in poor form having picked up only three points out of a possible fifteen from their last five league games whilst Bristol City came into the match having collected nine points from a last possible fifteen.
Isaac Mbenza Danny Ward pic.twitter.com/imZ24hdWf3
— Huddersfield Town (@htafc) January 26, 2021
Prior to kickoff the Town players warmed up in shirts labelled ‘SINNOTT 25’ in memory of former Town academy graduate Jordan Sinnott, who tragically lost his life just over twelve months ago.
The opening exchanges of the game were fairly lively, Nahki Wells started well for City, having the first chance of the game within the opening few minutes before his strike partner Famara Diediou committed a forwards challenge on talented midfielder Juninho Bacuna, resulting in a deserved early yellow card. It was Town though who very nearly took the lead just before the tenth minute, a brilliant run from Lewis O’Brien got Town fans all over their country off of their seats before unleashing a shot on The Robins goal, only for him to be denied by Daniel Bentley.
Personal opinions on Keogh aside, I don’t think I was the only Town fan who was surprised by Richard Keogh’s fairly impressive display during last week’s otherwise below par home defeat to Millwall, Keogh started well at Ashton Gate too, being put under pressure by his own keeper Ryan Schofield early on, but managing to work his way out of the situation and clear the ball. A lot of Town fans were anything but encouraged when Keogh signed on a short term deal from MK Dons until the end of the season, myself included, but it is fair to say that the experience he has brought to the squad is invaluable and he has proven decent competition for young defenders Rarmani Edmonds-Green and Romoney Crichlow.
Despite Town’s bright start, it was Bristol City who took the lead twenty-two minutes into the game. A pass from Alfie Mawson dummied by Semenyo caught out Alex Vallejo and played Famara Diediou (A man who’s name I was already fed up of typing by this point – Little did I know what was to come) in on goal. All that was left for him to do was to round a helpless Schofield and slot it into the back of the net. All of which he did successfully, giving Bristol City the lead in what had so far been a very even game.
Only six minutes later City doubled their lead, Kasey Palmer bringing down a stray ball and playing a pass in between the Town defence leaving Naby Sarr flat footed and playing Famara Diediou through on goal before he slotted in an easy second for himself and Bristol City into the bottom corner. Things were beginning to look worrying for Town after just under half an hour.
The first change of the game came just before half time; with former Town full back Jack Hunt coming onto the pitch in place of Tommy Rowe, who was withdrawn through injury.
Town’s next big chance of the game came just seconds after the substitution. Mbenza’s corner finding Vallejo unmarked towards the far side. Vallejo hit it scruffily and he was only denied by a Jack Hunt header onto the bar.
Another big chance for Town followed, the full backs combining to scare the City defence once again. Pipa, on his twenty-third birthday, made a brilliant run into the box before supplying a ball to the edge of the six yard box where left back Harry Toffolo waited, he lashed at it, unfortunately striking it into the outside netting.
Town went into half time having held their own against City and with the knowledge that they were only behind due to a pair of mistakes, first from Vallejo and then from Sarr. Their heads dropped slightly after both the first and second goals, but they continued to grow back into the game and were unlucky not to be going in at half time having pulled one back.
HALF TIME: BRISTOL CITY 2-0 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
It took Bristol City just seconds to challenge the Town defence for the first time in the second half as a long ball over the top played Semenyo through one on one with Scofield, with only a poor touch sparing the defences blushes. Town’s first chance of the second half came just seconds later, after a ball into the box was nodded away by the City defence it dropped to O’Brien on the edge of the box, O’Brien reacted quickly and fired it goal wards, only for it to be blocked by a Robins defender.
Another chance came for town just a couple of minutes later, a ball into the box found Fraizer Campbell, who’s shot took a deflection and bobbled wide for a Town corner. Which ultimately led to nothing.
Zak Vyner found himself in the referee’s book several minutes into a thus far fairly dull second half after tearing down a darting Lewis O’Brien. Mbenza stepped up to take the free kick, which was launched into the box from thirty yards. It was nodded away easily before dropping to the feet of Pipa who couldn’t convert. Town found themselves with another chance from a set piece several minutes later, with Mbenza and Bacuna standing over yet another free kick, this time from thirty-five yards. Mbenza slipped as he hit it and the ball flew just over bar with Bentley squirming across his goal line.
Town’s dominant second half display eventually paid off as they pulled one back just a couple of minutes later, January signing Rolando Aarons making an excellent run into the box before slotting it across goal for Mbenza to back heal it into the path of Juninho Bacuna, who finished from around seven yards. 2-1, Town were back in it!
— Huddersfield Town (@htafc) January 26, 2021
Town should have equalised just a couple of minutes later, a beautiful ball from Toffolo dropped straight into the path of Fraizer Campbell, who should have finished his first time shot from just a few yards out. Town were on the front foot and Bristol City were starting to panic.
The next chance for Town came around ten minutes later, Alex Vallejo drove forward before having a dig from around twenty-five yards, the shot was clean and uninterrupted before smashing off of the crossbar, Bacuna was awaiting the follow up, but couldn’t finish it due to the onrushing City defenders. The first Town change came after Bacuna’s blocked shot, with Alex Vallejo being replaced by midfielder Alex Pritchard. I, like many Town fans, am a bit surprised to have seen Pritchard make an appearance with murmurings surrounding his exit growing louder.
Bacuna could have picked out an equaliser with time beginning to tick away from Town, he made a brilliant dribbling run into the box, bodies were making runs into the box but Bacuna decided to go alone. Unfortunately his shot couldn’t find a way through and the ball ended up rolling out for a corner.
Kieran Phillips was the next Town player to be introduced, he replaced Aarons. Aarons had been in for a bit of stick, personally I think undeservedly, for his performances against Watford and Millwall but there is no doubting how well he has played tonight against Bristol City.
With time continuing to trickle away, Bacuna made a brilliant tackle before playing a ball over the top for Phillips to chase, Phillips knocked the ball into the path of Campbell, who was unlucky not to finish.
More chances would follow for Town. It was Bacuna who had the best chance, he controlled a bobbling ball before half-volleying it from twenty five yards; the strike flew goal wards before being tipped over by Bentley. From the move resulting from the corner, the ball dropped for Pipa on the right side of the eighteen yard box, Pipa struck it low first time, the deflection off of Campbell carrying it agonisingly wide.
Town were lucky to finish with eleven men on the pitch, an off the ball incident concerning lively midfielder Juninho Bacuna and Bristol midfielder Nagy caused a flare up of Bacuna’s well documented temper that caused him to raise a hand to Nagy, luckily for Town though, Bacuna escaped with just a yellow.
The full time whistle rang just seconds later and, despite having twenty-seven shots & a much improved second half performance, Town walked away from Ashton Gate pointless. Town fans fears of being drawn into a relegation battle continue to grow, but they can be brought comfort by an inspiring second half display that deserved at least a point.
FULL TIME: BRISTOL CITY 2-1 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN