A desperately poor game at Deepdale, venue of Huddersfield Town disappointment since 1969, saw the Terriers’ unbeaten run maintained but did nothing to enhance their play off credentials.
While a rare point in this corner of Lancashire was welcome and the defensive display admirable, the complete lack of threat to the Lilywhites throughout was disappointing for a team high in the table, and the final flurries of a game which had stalemate stamped all over it belonged to the home side who had a credible penalty shout in and amongst being thwarted by the excellent Nicholls.
Desperately poor performances by Sinani, who constantly made wrong decisions and lost possession on far too many occasions, and Holmes, for whom nothing went right on a frustrating evening, rather undermined Town’s efforts going forward and it was left far too late to replace one or both of them to try and create some change.
Ward’s hard work, touch and energy were entirely wasted through lack of support and his withdrawal in favour of Rhodes was a huge signal from Corberán that the point was to be preserved, rather than trying to win the game by putting two up front.
Rhodes is not an effective lone striker, which must be known to Town’s management, and losing Ward’s unselfish endeavour simply handed the initiative to Preston and the visitors ended up fortunate to gain a point which had looked reasonably comfortable until the last 10 minutes.
As an attacking force, Town were virtually non existent. Thomas managed a couple of runs and crosses but there were too few colleagues in the box as conservatism pervaded the team. While Sinani and Holmes’s ineffectiveness was key to a poor offensive performance, O’Brien’s surging was largely snuffed out too.
The attack and defence seemed unbalanced all evening, and cohesion suffered accordingly. To gain a point when playing poorly, because several defensive players came out of the game very positively, is not to be sniffed at but the spectacle did nothing to dispel the feeling that Town are a little, and possibly more, short of play off quality.
The return of Colwill after the weekend and the imminent arrival of his Chelsea colleague on loan may well change the dynamic and will certainly give Corberán better options for the final run in. The current squad battles on, and while the Deepdale showing was pretty dire, they are maintaining momentum.
Sheffield United present a stiff lunchtime test on Saturday, and Town can suffer with early kick offs following a midweek Wednesday game, and a big offensive improvement will be needed.