After other teams in the promotion hunt stumbled the previous night, Palace missed a good opportunity to get their own quest back on track, going down by a single goal in West Yorkshire.
With both teams struggling to win League games, The Terriers managing only one in twelve, whilst The Eagles registering one in eight, a positive result was something of a surprise with Palace again falling foul of the curse of an ex-player returning to haunt them. James Vaughan, who was with The Eagles on loan for most of the 2010/11 season, grabbed the winner midway through the second half.
With the home team sheet looking a Eagles’ old boys convention, Palace were perhaps fortunate that the curse visited them just the once. In addition to the goalscorer Vaughan, Neil Danns was also named in the starting eleven with Alan Lee and Sean Scannell on the bench, together with Jordan Sinnott – son of Lee who made his debut in the previous game.
Palace made two changes with Andre Moritz brought into the starting line-up replacing the injured Alex Nimely and new loan signing Jazz Richards from Swansea, slotting in at right back which meant Jonathan Parr moving left in place of Dean Moxey.
Huddersfield’s story since the clubs last met 13 thirteen years agoi is an uncomfortable glimpse of what might have happened to Palace, before Dougie Freedman’s last gasp winner at Stockport in 2001 sentenced Town to eleven arduous seasons in the lower levels. Having regained their second tier status via the Play-offs last season, the Terriers are desperate to ensure that they don’t fall at the first hurdle and recently parted company with Simon Grayson, with their Academy boss Mark Lillis installed at Caretaker. With the teams at the lower end of the table all picking up points, the win was a very welcome one for them.
It was another ex-Eagle, Neil Danns, who made the biggest impact in a quiet first half, twice forcing Julian Speroni into good stops. Danns, currently on loan from Leicester, also graced the cover of the quirkily named Programme: ‘Give us an H’ .
With another 15 letters following the clubs’ name, it led to some pre-match speculation as to whether the home fans actually have the patience to sing that song through to the end. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t heard on the night.
At the other end, Palace’s best chances in the first period came from Yannick Bolasie, whose early low drive stung the palms of Alex Smithies and an Andre Moritz free-kick which breached the wall byt the Terriers stopper managed to smother.
With the Brazilian midfielder succumbing to injury on the stroke of half time, Jonny Williams took over the mantle of central attacking midfielder and caused the Terriers several problems early in second half.
The press box was busier than usual with Mancunian journalists getting their first look at their new signing, Wilfried Zaha. It’s uncertain what they will have made of a performance that was largely anonymous in the first half and continually hampered by some very heavy marking throughout.
With the game evenly balanced, James Vaughan broke the deadlock when he collected a defence-splitting through ball from Adam Clayton and neatly turned and slotted the ball under the advancing Speroni.
With Palace finding it increasingly difficult to break down a resolute Terriers back-line, Ian Holloway gambled by replacing both full backs with strikers. Aaron Wilbraham and Jermaine Easter both quickly fashioned a chance a piece but nothing that had the Palace fans rising to their feet. The substitution was certainly no reflection on Richards debut performance, who looked assured and quickly cleared up any odd mistakes.
Palace almost snatched an equalizer in injury time when Yannick Bolasie slid in at the far post, but Smithies managed to smother bravely and Town broke quickly leading to Adam Clayton skimming the bar at the other end.
The temperament of game could best be described as niggly throughout and threatened to boil over at the death when Alan Lee and Mile Jedinak clashed on the pitch, out of sight of the Referee. This led to both Managers exchanging harsh words regarding the use of an elbow and Jedinak appearing to have sustained a gashed eye socket. Several of the players also appeared to continue the spat in the tunnel at the end of the match and the incident was rumoured to be the reason that Ian Holloway refused to face the press after the game.
Huddersfield fans with long memories will perhaps feel some small measure of satisfaction in the result against the club that condemned them to such a long spell in the football wilderness, but as a footballing spectacle, it is unlikely to live long in anyone’s memory.
Team: Speroni, Richards (Wilbraham 76), Ramage, Delaney, Parr (Easter 76), Bolasie, Jedinak, Butterfield, Moritz (Williams 45), Zaha, Murray. Subs not used: Price, Marrow, Moxey, O’Keefe
Huddersfield: Smithies, Woods, Norwood (Scannell 76), Clarke, Gerrard, Clayton, Novak, Arfield, Vaughan (Beckford 85 (Lee 90)), Danns, Hunt. Subs not used: Bennett, Wallace, Dixon, Sinnott.
Booked: Norwood, Vaughan
Goals: Vaughan 65
Ref: Carl Boyeson
Att: 13, 471
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