The run of 1-1 draws between Huddersfield Town and Birmingham City in Yorkshire came to an end, at long last, at the 6th attempt.
Unfortunately, a goalless stalemate was not the sequence busting bonanza we were hoping for, but a largely uninspiring contest, refereed by another idiot, kept Town in the play off spots ahead of an exceptionally stiff challenge at the weekend.
A 3rd consecutive clean sheet strongly indicates why the Terriers continue to trouble the right end of the table, and yet another superb Lees performance, ably supported by Pearson and Colwill, not to mention Nicholls behind them, restricted Birmingham to one decent chance in the whole game. This was late on and Gardner should have scored, but headed wide from close range.
Perhaps the late let off affected Nicholls. Minutes afterwards, he was caught by Deeney as he gathered a loose ball and then spent an age putting his boot back on, composing himself and finally taking the free kick. Around 2 or 3 minutes elapsed in this pantomime, which rather inflamed the frustrations of the home support, and when a free kick in injury time was passed backwards, this translated in to some final whistle booing which appeared harsh without context.
The Blues, struggling after a bright start to the season, defended deep and robustly, much like Hull had tried to do at the weekend, and largely kept Town at arm’s length until the appearance of Campbell threatened to deliver a win for the hosts.
Ward, despite the usual struggle with hold up play, had been competent before being replaced, but Campbell brought aggression which unsettled Birmingham and injected some momentum in to the home side. He had only been on the pitch for a minute before hitting the post with a shot on the turn from a low Thomas cross.
A speculative effort by Campbell hit the other post in injury time, but a breakthrough was not to come.
O’Brien shot narrowly wide earlier in the half, which rather disguised the fact that Ward had been flattened in the area attempting to reach a cross, though expecting this latest abysmal official to spot an offence in the area would be going too far.
If ever a game needed a goal, it was this one. Town threatened sporadically in a first half which was fragmented but far from completely unentertaining. Faced with an opponent deploying almost their whole team defensively, the home side worked some decent openings and Sinani forced another good save from an opposition keeper while Ward, in the very first minute, flicked over the bar from a marginally offside position.
Holmes’ good form continued, providing most of the energy produced by the Terriers, but both Thomas and Sinani looked mentally and physically weary and will surely be rested at Dean Court, along with the enforced absence of Colwill who picked up another rather silly booking.
A disappointing evening would have been much more palatable had one of the near misses been converted, as the previous home game showed. As it was, the only bright spot was the retina scorching advertising displays at either end of the ground which were inexplicably fired up towards the end of the game.
Still, nearly 50% of games have seen Town achieve a clean sheet, which would have been laughably unlikely in the past few seasons. These shut outs are the reason Town are not, and will not be, struggling down at the wrong end again.