The Terriers finally limped over the line before a much needed 2 week break with a creditable, in parts, draw against a tough, disciplined Luton side who presented a stern, unremitting test which was not short on entertainment.
Fatigue, mental and physical, should not be under estimated and the ravages of a merciless schedule perhaps mitigates against the instinctive Corberán game plan a little more than Luton’s admirably robust style, though it should be said that the extra 24 hours recovery afforded to the hosts levelled things up.
14 points from 10 games, which would extrapolate to mid 60s over the season, is a respectable and arguably slightly above par return and a good foundation for a stabilising season as Town reverse the tailspin of the last couple of years.
It should be a comfort to both Towns that the game and eventual stalemate was the epitome of a mid table clash; a big improvement from last season’s travails and with the promise of better things to come.
Patience is a hard sell to Huddersfield fans. The rapid collapse following a rare period of remarkable success has required saintly forbearance, with a virtually complete absence of joy and few, if any, rays of hope.
Corberán, however, deserves our patience. Watching his teams is an odd mixture of frustration and fascination; his ideas bring passages of genuinely exciting and incisive play but also clumsiness which betrays the fact that the squad is not fully capable, by a distance, of delivering the relentlessness which provides the tipping point to genuine domination of the opposition.
It is a little like watching someone learning to ski. Acquiring bravery without recklessness, confidence but not bravado and leaning forward when your very instinct is to go backwards. Corberán will also need the right equipment; in certain instances, players are attempting to go down the slopes in jeans.
A case in point is the hapless Dhiakaby. At some point, he and us have to be put out of our misery because trying to wring some value out of one of the biggest errors of judgement in Huddersfield Town’s history may only cause more damage than they are trying to mitigate.
The young Frenchman failed to perform an elementary defensive duty which lead to Luton’s opener after a generally turgid opening 20 minutes. A soft free kick awarded against Sarr was well delivered to the far post where Bradley easily beat Stearman to plant the ball in to a dangerous area in the box. Dhiakaby failed to react and his designated man, Moncur, pounced to bury the chance.
It wasn’t just an error, rather, it was a dereliction of responsibility. His day didn’t get much better and ended when he lost the ball in the second half with Eiting in acres of space 10 yards away. Occasional, sometimes accidental, contributions to the cause simply aren’t enough.
Town improved after surrendering the lead and should have gone in to the break level with chances falling to Koroma and O’Brien but neither could apply the necessary technique when in good positions. Koroma’s attempt, set up by Eiting, was far too weak while O’Brien was foiled by a bobble as he surged in to the area, lifting his effort high over the bar.
Koroma was denied a goal by the offside flag when again played in by the increasingly influential Eiting. His effort was as unconvincing as his first but looped up off the keeper and in.
The avoidable goal against soured a reasonably competent first half performance against a resilient and sporadically dangerous opponent, but fluency evaded the home side too often and their threat was rather unconvincing.
As always, however, with Corberán’s influence, Town are capable of moments of liquid football and the second half equaliser provided yet another tantalising glimpse of what the future may bring.
Working the ball from back to front with instinctive pace and precision, Toffolo found himself in his familiar position beyond the back four and floated a cross on to the head of Eiting (tellingly, he was one of several targets with Town having 6 players in the box). The Ajax loanee had a lot to do to put enough pace on the ball to place it precisely beyond the keeper and executed it to perfection.
It was a just reward for a more dynamic display which began to reap chances. A wayward Dhiakaby effort which looped off a defender presented a far post headed chance for Koroma who was unfortunate to see his header deflect off his marker for a dead ball.
Koroma had a mixed afternoon. Perhaps fortunate not to pick up a second yellow card in the space of a few minutes in the first half, he followed up his weak effort described earlier with an ill advised attempt when better options were available to the side of him, leaving more than one colleague furious at his decision, yet played a small but critical role in the lead up to the goal with a nice feed to Toffolo. A well executed curling effort just past the post after the leveller was another decent contribution and his potential remains intriguing.
In and amongst the Terriers’ dominance, Luton caused some scares and were never out of the search for a winner. There seems to be a problem with hesitancy in the box when defending, which lost us the Bristol City and Preston games, and Luton could have similarly capitalised upon the weakness on one occasion but survived.
Though far from entirely satisfying, the potential remains. When they click with bravery, confidence and instinctive teamwork, Town look very, very good but they can be rather too easily prevented, largely by themselves, from displaying those qualities. These two weeks, and the addition of Ward and Vallejo, will help with the progress they need.
Witnessing the development, even through the badly directed and infuriating iFollow coverage, will be exciting and worthwhile if we can accept the inevitable ups and downs of the experiment.
(And remember, folks, it’s only a game. On this memorial weekend, let’s remember those whose sacrifice allows us the freedom to enjoy it).