Huddersfield Town 2 v 1 Stockport County

Huddersfield Town story posted by Phill Rodgerson on 14/12/2002
FINALLY! After a massive run of eight games without a victory Town finally put their relegation survival hopes back on course. A solid team display, backed up with two great goals from Martin Smith was enough to give Town the confidence they needed going into a difficult run of games over the Christmas season. It?s definitely the Christmas bonus that Town?s season was in dire need of!Huddersfield Town 2 v 1 Stockport County

The game started scrappily in a very murky McAlpine Stadium, with neither side creating any real chances in the opening ten minutes. A golden opportunity was almost gifted to Rickie Lambert just after the ten-minute opening though, when a shoddy looking offside trap was only marginally deemed acceptable by the linesman. It was a dangerous game for Town to play with the good finishers of Lambert and Beckett up front for Stockport.

Some good work down the right between Jenkins and Schofield resulted in Towns first corner of the game. A poor delivery was easily cleared, but only as far as Martin Smith on the area. Coming in from the left, having made way for on-loan striker Lee Ashcroft Smithy drove a half-volley on narrowly wide of Stockport?s post.

Just moments later and a slice of luck almost gifted Ashcroft with a goal on his debut. A ball by Irons was mis-controlled by Stockport?s player-manager Carlton Palmer allowing the Wigan striker in behind the defence. Having seen the ?keeper in no-mans-land he went for the lob but could only watch in agony as it whipped past the wrong side of the post.

A rare mix-up at the back almost handed prolific goalscorer Luke Beckett a Stockport opener. A ball lobbed over the head of a static Adi Moses bounced perfectly in front of the 14-goal-man. Seeing Bevan slightly out of position Beckett attempted the lob but such was Bevan?s towering height that it would?ve never have cleared the big man. He easily plucked it away from his goal to keep the scores level.

On 26 minutes the much-needed breakthrough finally came with after some great determination by the returning Kenny Irons. His skill down the wing had the County defence rushing all over the place to cover the gaps. His attempted shot struck a defender and landing handily at the feet of Martin Smith who had no doubt in his mind over where it was going to end up. He smashed it home to give Town a well deserved lead in front of 8,000 ecstatic Town fans.

Defender Anthony Tonkin tried his luck from distance just 5 minutes later in a vain attempt to gain his team a point. Outside of the area he tried curling a shot towards Bevans right hand corner but the on-loan goalkeeper comfortably dealt with the shot.

Every man in Stockport would?ve had their money on Beckett to score on 37 minutes after a deflected corner reached the striker at the back post. Not believing his fortune he snatched at his headed opportunity and his header looped harmlessly over the bar from just a couple of yards out. The luck was definitely with Town today, if the officials perhaps weren?t after many galling offside decisions against Town in the first half.

Just before the half-time break the Terriers almost doubled their lead. Danny Schofield?s cross found the lively Booth in the box who connected with a fantastic header. It took an equally great save from Lee Jones to keep his team in the game before half-time.

County captain and long-throw expert Dave Challinor gave Town another great opportunity just moments into the second half. An unusually dodgy defensive performance from the County back-three allowed Martin Smith a crack at goal. Unfortunately his effort was only narrowly wide after taking his chance first time rather than setting himself up.

On 49 minutes Andy Booth rose majestically to flick the ball on for his new strike partner Lee Ashcroft. Lee showed great pace to meet the ball before the goalkeeper, catching Jones stranded off his line. A moment of indecision by Ashcroft allowed Jones time to get back on his line and his scoring chances were seriously dimmed when he hit the ball wide of the target.

Stunning approach play by Town freed Martin Smith down the left with plenty of time to get his head over the ball. The goalscorer played the ball low towards the top of the box but with two players in the box it was just behind Andy Booth and the great work came to nothing.

After soaking up some great pressure from Town the Hatters almost had a sneaky goal in them when two great chances inside two minutes presented themselves to the men in blue. Luke Beckett?s shot was tipped wide for a corner on 63 minutes and on 65 minutes Bevan was called into action again having to acrobatically tip wide a John Hardiker header.

Andy Booth almost gained a well-deserved goal after returning from injury. A great cross by Martin Smith was dove upon by Boothy who directed his header perfectly straight towards the post. The goal wouldn?t have counted anyway as he was judged to be offside, for the umpteenth time in the game.

Ashcroft was replaced on 71 minutes with a warm applause from the Town fans after a determined and hard-working debut. Young striker Jon Stead came on to take his place up front with his idol Andy Booth.

On 74 minutes the moment Town fans were dreading, but sneakily always thought would come, did! A long punt up field by Rob Jones was flicked into the area by Lescott. In acres of space, and with the Town defence asleep, substitute Keith Briggs stunned home fans by grabbing an undeserved equalizer. His header directed straight at Bevans top right hand corner had the ?keeper helplessly rooted to the spot as it looked like we?d have to settle for just a point once again.

Irons entered the referees book on 80 minutes after a challenge just outside the area. The resulting free-kick by Lambert was only just palmed over by Bevan who caught site of the ball late.

Jubilation around the Mac came once again from Martin Smith on 82 minutes. Booth directed a long ball from Kevin Sharp towards the feet of Smithy. After pulling the ball from under his feet the Sunderland-born striker drilled a low shot narrowly inside the goalkeepers post to give Town the win in one of their most important games of the season.

Young players Paul Scott and Jon Worthington made brief appearances after the goal to help Town hang onto their lead. Despite four minutes of injury time Town astutely held off any pressure from Stockport and grabbed their first three-point haul since mid-October.


Huddersfield Town

1. Scott Bevan
2. Steve Jenkins (CAP)
22. Kevin Sharp
17. Eddie Youds
5. Adi Moses
27. Nat Brown
6. Kenny Irons (YEL, 79) (OFF, 84)
7. Danny Schofield
13. Lee Ashcroft (OFF 71)
19. Martin Smith (GOALS 26, 74) (OFF, 87)
9. Andy Booth


35. Phil Senior
14. Jon Stead (ON 71)
29. Jon Worthington (ON 87)
10. John Thorrington
28. Paul Scott (ON 84)

Stockport County

1. Lee Jones
26. Ali Gibb
35. Anthony Tonkin
10. Rickie Lambert
7. Aaron Lescott (7EL 82)
5. Robert Clarke (OFF 45)
4. Dave Challinor (CAP)
9. Luke Beckett
32. Ben Burgess
6. Carlton Palmer
11. Martin Pemberton (OFF 58)


3. Brad Jones
33. Neil Ross
16. Jonathan Daly
18. John Hardiker (ON 45)
2. Keith Briggs (ON 58)


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