Reds vs Huddersfield Town
Ahead of the final npower Championship match of the 2012/13 campaign, Tom Bestwick previews the action at the John Smith's Stadium
Huddersfield Town – Saturday 4 March – kick off 12:45
Form over last five league fixtures – D, W, L, W, W
Tell me more.....
Looking on the Huddersfield Town Football Club website it is easy to notice that the Terriers are the ‘Thrice Champions’ of England. Back in the 1920’s Huddersfield was England’s dominant force, twice under Herbert Chapman before he moved onto Arsenal, and the final time under Cecil Potter, they were the Champions. Right through to the middle of the 1950’s. Huddersfield was a regular fixture in the top flight.
How fortunes change though, and Huddersfield can not be singled out when we look at former Champions of England who have dramatically plummeted through the divisions, some of them are with Huddersfield in the Championship in the present day. After the Second World War the West Yorkshire club went on slow decline through the divisions, entered administration in 2003 and languished in the bottom division.
This is where two influential Chairmen come in. First of all Ken Davey, who bought a controlling stake in Huddersfield, took the club out of administration and through shrewd investment led the club to promotion via the play-offs in his very first season. Come forth Dean Hoyle, a lifelong Terrier who took over as chairman in 2008, with Ken Davey remaining as one of the minor stakeholders at Huddersfield and after years of investment, building a new stadium and putting together a squad of players to take the club one step further. Hoyle finally got his rewards and took his boyhood club back to the second tier of English football after a dramatic penalty showdown with Sheffield United at the end of season play-offs.
Huddersfield may have failed to replicate the success Southampton and Norwich City tasted in the previous two campaigns, but they are an ambitious club that are no longer looking backwards, and instead have their eyes firmly fixed on becoming a regular fixture in the Premier League.
Terriers boss Mark Robins could call upon both Jermaine Beckford and Danny Ward for this end-of-season local derby as both Huddersfield and Barnsley look to retain their Championship status. Beckford (groin) missed last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over already relegated Bristol City, and Ward (also groin) has been absent since the Terriers were defeated by Bolton Wanderers on April 2.
Their season so far:
It all started so well. The sale of Jordan Rhodes aside, Dean Hoyle, fan and owner of Huddersfield Town, invested heavily on giving his club a face-lift ahead of their first season back in the Championship after more than a decade away, and after seven games, the Terriers were nicely sat in second position daring to repeat what both Southampton and Norwich City had done in the previous two seasons. Even after more than a quarter of the season gone Simon Grayson’s side were well placed in the top six. Cue the downfall.
After beating the Tykes on November 10, Huddersfield failed to win any of their next 13 fixtures – and with a lot of heavy defeats along the way – Huddersfield began to slide down the table and were dragged into the relegation scrap ensuing at the foot of the table. It was during this period Grayson was shown the door by Hoyle.
Former player Mark Lillis held the post for nearly a month before Mark Robins ended his short stay with Coventry City to take over the hot seat and was immediately charged with guiding the club to safety in the Championship. Despite being in and out of the bottom three since Robins’ arrival, Huddersfield have saved their best form for the end of the season and go into this final game of the season all but sure of the Championship survival.
Who is their star man?
How do you survive in the Championship? If you don’t score many goals, you have to be able to defend, or vice versa. The Terriers were indebted to Jordan Rhodes for the amount of goals he scored in their rise to the Championship, but his departure left a gaping hole in the side that needed to be filled. On loan striker James Vaughan has reached 13 goals this season and played the most amount of games in one season this campaign. His goals may very well be the difference in the club remaining in the second tier and not making an immediate return to League One.
Only once this season have Huddersfield defeated a team by more than a two-goal margin and that came only two games ago when they defeated Millwall 3-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium. Jermaine Beckford opened the scoring eight minutes before the end of the first half before James Vaughan added a second and Beckford wrapped the game up just after the hour to crucially lift the Terriers out of the bottom three.
As heavy defeats go, Huddersfield have been on the end of a few hammerings in their first season back in the Championship, most notably two 6-1 defeats at the hands of both Nottingham Forest and Leicester City. Huddersfield travelled to the King Power Stadium for the first game of 2013, and Leicester, spearheaded by debutant Chris Wood, scored three in each half with Scott Arfield bagging the consolation. A month later and following defeat to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, Forest gave the Terriers another thrashing to leave Mark Robins' side a place above the relegation zone, and also meant the new manager had conceded 10 goals in his first two games since replacing Simon Grayson in the hot seat.
Blast from the past:
The Tykes’ 1-0 defeat to the Terriers back in November was the first time the two sides had met since the two-legged play-off clashes back in 2005/06. After losing the first leg at Oakwell, Barnsley, under the guidance of Andy Ritchie, fought back in the second leg at the Galpharm Stadium. Paul Hayes opened the scoring from the spot and after Jonathan Worthington had equalised, Paul Reid and Danny Nardiello struck to secure Barnsley’s a date at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to go head-to-head with Swansea City for a return to the second tier. And we all know what happened there...