Report: Preston North End 1-0 Huddersfield TownHuddersfield Town story posted by Sean Makin on 14/04/2012
Preston North End scored the only goal of the game to condemn Huddersfield Town to three straight defeats on the bounce in another lacklustre display by The Terriers.
Town dominated the first 45 minutes but lacked any killer threat and Preston made The Terriers pay with a goal early in the second half through Chris Robertson. Town huffed and puffed but again, as against Sheffield Wednesday and Bournemouth, went out on a whimper.
Town manager Simon Grayson has admitted he doesn't know the best formation or personnel to play so against Preston so he decided to experiment with a 4-3-3 formation. Goalkeeper Alex Smithies was out injured due to a bizarre training ground accident with Danny Cadamaterti which involved part of Smithies' ear torn off so Ian Bennett took the position between the sticks. Alan Lee was out injured, Lee Novak and Antony Kay weren't match fit so Scott Arfield, Anton Robinson and Gary Roberts started respectively. Roberts and Danny Ward supported Jordan Rhodes in attack, Robinson, Arfield and Arismendi made with midfield three with the back four of Jack Hunt, Peter Clarke, Sean Morrison and Calum Woods.
Town started off brightly, dominating possession and making Preston look a very ordinary team. The Terriers showed their intention with Hunt's long ball forward caught out the Preston defence but their goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann was out quick to deny Rhodes an opportunity at goal.
Surging runs forward by Robinson forced a couple of corners to which Town didn't capitalise on with Arismendi failing to connect at the far post from one of them.
Stuckmann smothered a deep free kick into the box from Hunt and after neat passing play between Arfield and Robinson, Rhodes had a half chance that flew high into the Preston stand behind the goal. Arsimendi fired over from Ward's knock down after Robinson and Rhodes combined down the right.
Town's first clear-cut chance fell to Rhodes just after the half hour mark. Robinson collected Arfield's pass with his back to goal and smartly flicked the ball with his right foot past the defender to on the on-rushing Rhodes but the striker could only fire straight at Stuckmann.
The host breathed a sigh of relief and gave Town their first real test moments later. After a quickly taken thrown in the ball fell to winger Danny Mayor, the Town defence just seemed to open up to give him space but his shot was palmed away for a corner with a smart low save by Bennett.
With the half drawing to an end Preston appeared to be growing in confidence after testing Bennett. Chris Holroyd hit the post with a scuffed shot that beat Bennett from the edge of the Town box after the Town defence seemed to open up leaving gaps.
Immediately from that Ward set up Hunt down the right flank and his superb cross found the head of Rhodes 12 yards from the goal but Town's top scorer could only put the chance just over the bar.
The striker was denied in first half injury time by Stuckmann who managed to close down the shot after a scramble in the 6 yard box. The Preston goalkeeper moments earlier did well to punch away a dangerous cross from Ward.
Preston switched to 4-3-3 after the break to match Town but it was the visitors who had the first chance of the half with Ward firing way over from an ambitious 35 yard effort.
Preston had right-back David Gray to thank on 51 minutes as Ward's excellent through ball to Robinson inside the Preston penalty area and as the midfielder was about to shape himself to shoot Gray denied the midfielder with an excellent last ditch tackle.
Town had a penalty claim waved away from Andy D'Urso as Morrison was pulled to the floor during a Town corner but against the run of play Preston scored on 54 minutes.
The home side took a short corner from the left which caught Town cold and Mayor was able to jinx his way into the box before sliding a low cross to the far post where defender Robertson had the easy task of slotting into the net.
Grayson made an immediate change in personnel with Lee Novak coming on for Danny Ward but sticking to the 4-3-3 formation rather than taking a midfielder off and going 4-4-2.
Preston grew in confidence and Town once again pressed the panic button as they petered out with a clueless performance. Gray flashed a long range effort just wide after the hour mark.
North End's Cummins hit a tame shot straight at Bennett whilst Roberts did the same at the other end and Morrison did well to prevent Ehmer having a shot at goal from just inside the area.
In the 73rd minute Morrison's long throw into the penalty area caused Stuckmann to come and punch the ball away but it only fell to Arfield on the edge of the box but the midfielder could only fire over under pressure from Preston players.
The Town midfielder went close moments later as his deflected shot flew just over the bar from a Town corner after Roberts' cross hit a Preston defender just flying inches wide of the post.
Danny Cadmarteri replaced Robinson as Town switched to a 4-4-2 formation but it was too late as Town huffed and puffed but in the end could only muster half chances as once again once a team scores against us we look clueless in how to respond. Rhodes was left with scraps in the second half but Town failed to make the domination in the first half pay. All the possession but little creativity.
Sean's Star Man - Ian Bennett
Shows how bad it was when I'm awarding to our 40 year old goalkeeper. Smart save in first half could do nothing about the goal.
Preston: Stuckmann, Gray, Robertson, Wright, Parry (Morgan 43), Coutts, Ehmer, Proctor (Hunt 85), Mayor, Hume (Cummins 42), Holroyd.
Subs not used: Arestidou, Aneke.
Town: Bennett, Woods, P Clarke, Morrison, Hunt, Robinson (Cadamarteri 79), Arismendi (Miller 67), Arfield, Ward (Novak 56), Rhodes, Roberts.
Subs not used: Colgan, T Clarke.
Referee: Andy D'Urso
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