Plumping Up Those Mid-Table Cushions

251898_cushions2After last month’s wonderful result at Stadium:Asda, Huddersfield Town decided that the best way they could hammer home their promotion-chasing credentials would be to draw two home games in a row and lose four away league games in a row. A ‘bullying’ 4-0 win against Exeter (who are probably not long for this division) was the only semi-bright spot of a period that also saw Town go out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties to League Two side Chesterfield. Once again, Town look likely to be finishing with a points total significantly less than one standard deviation from the mean – that’s mid-table to people not familiar with statistics.

A 0-0 bore draw against Brentford was followed by a dismal 3-1 away performance against Millwall – the only bright spots being Jordan Rhodes’ late consolation and no bookings. Stockport’s excellent Welsh ‘keeper Owain Fôn Williams then put in one of his ‘superman’ performances meaning another 0-0 at home, before a Tuesday night away defeat at Walsall, where the winner was scored by Dwayne Mattis. Yes, that’s right (any Town fans who remember him), Mr ‘Bambi-on-ice’ himself. Town took the lead through Theo Robinson before yet another penalty was awarded against us, this time for handball by Joe Skarz. The next match was equally painful listening, as a gutsy performance was completely undermined by a typically shite lower-league referee. He adjudged Peter Clarke had jumped leading with his arm, earning him a second yellow card (look, it’s either a red because it was a deliberate elbow, or nothing because it wasn’t – a yellow card for something like that is ludicrous). Three minutes later, Odejayi prodded home and that was that – another defeat on the road.

The next match was one of those ‘we really want to win it, but if we don’t, we can concentrate on the league’ things. After Chesterfield went 3-1 up in the 90th minute (Pilkington with a 64th minute equaliser), Lee Clark was readying his best ‘now we can concentrate on the league’ speech, before three minutes into stoppage time Pilkington scored again. A minute and a half later, Nathan Clarke equalised with the last kick of the game. That’s it, book the coaches, we’re off to Wembley? Well, not quite. This stupid trophy goes straight to penalties after 90 minutes and after Pilkington and Goodwin saw their kicks high and saved respectively, we were out after all – 4-2 on penalties. Only Huddersfield Town would snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.

So, to last week’s match with Exeter. The pressure was on Lee Clark before this match, because he had ‘slammed’ his side’s defending after the Chesterfield match. There was also the added wrinkle of Marcus Stewart being present in the Exeter line-up, but he is so past his best, the only contribution he made to the match was getting caught offside in the 11th minute before being replaced in the 63rd. Still – legend. After Novak’s early opener, it was time for the ‘Jordan Rhodes show’ as he grabbed a hat-trick of headers in nine minutes of play either side of half time. Roy Keane’s biggest regret since he decided he’d rather be walking his dog than playing in a World Cup? I should think so. There were some strange newspaper reports on the Monday afterwards as apparently Wolves are interested in buying him. Given that we’ve only just bought him, absolutely, positively don’t need to sell and nothing can happen until January anyway, I really don’t understand why these stories surface so early in the season. Anyway, beating Exeter – it’s like kicking away a blind man’s stick.

Of course we were going to lose today. Phil ’empty chair’ Parkinson is getting his team of excellent youngsters and experienced old heads straight up at the first attempt without messing about. It’s called ‘doing a Leicester’ now and is most recommended for big clubs like Charlton, Norwich, Southampton etc. You don’t want to be scrabbling around in this division for years on end like a certain other West Yorkshire outfit seem to be doing. Anyway, we conceded two sloppy goals from set-pieces with Pilkington equalising in between.

With an away record that reads P7 W1 D1 L5 and a home record almost the opposite (incredibly, we’re still unbeaten at home, so it’s P6 W4 D2 L0) it looks like another season where the end of April and the whole of May will only matter to other football teams.

A-bloody-gain.

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