I think Matt & James are otherwise detained today, so I am just going to post my report as a thread on here (instead of it being uploaded to the main page - for the time being!)
Alan McCormack can be excused an extra celebratory pint of the black-stuff on St Patrick’s Day this year after his clinical late finish secured all three points for Southend United and strengthened their push for the League One playoffs in a hard fought encounter at the Galpharm Stadium. In the run up to the game, Shrimpers boss Steve Tilson had claimed he would be happy to take a point back to Essex and this looked as if this would be the case until Southend’s combative midfielder bore down on the Huddersfield goal.
The Southend team showed one change from the midweek draw with promotion rivals Nottingham Forest, with McCormack being restored to the midfield at the expense of hot-prospect Franck Moussa. Fit-again striker Lee Barnard wasn’t risked to start, probably in part to the sticky state of the pitch, although was named on the bench. The Blues showed their intent early on with some crisp flowing passing leading to half-chances which were scrambled clear for corners. This pressure could also have led to a Southend penalty in the 6th minute after Tommy Black appeared to be brought down in the box. Black and his closest colleagues shouted loudly for a spot-kick but these appeals were waved away by referee Pike. The home team then made their first serious forays into the Southend half with Flahavan having to smartly collect a dangerous looking cross. The Essex team then almost cemented their early dominance in the 12th minute when Adam Barrett headed a corner onto the roof of the net. Tempers on the pitch then started to flare when a couple of close challenges were taken to be more dangerous than they actually were in reality, particularly between the Shrimpers goalkeeper and Huddersfield midfielder Michael Collins. James Walker then went close for the visitors with a rasping shot after some good work by Robson-Kanu & Black. The game settled down into a midfield battle and this was only disrupted when new father Charlie Mulgrew picked up a knock and was replaced by Chelsea loanee Anthony Grant. This change caused a few minutes of confusion in the Southend rear-guard with a mix-up between Clarke & Barrett almost letting in Andy Booth to nip in and score and then Robbie Williams let fly with a shot that was easily collected by the Blues custodian.
Southend deservedly took the lead in the 40th minute when the on-loan Hal Robson-Kanu cleverly picked up the ball, switched it onto his left foot and then unleashed a clever shot into the corner of the net past Glennon. Just before the half-time whistle the floodlights of the impressive Galpharm Stadium were switched on. Was this the key to light up a scintillating second-half?
HT: Huddersfield Town 0-1 Southend United
Huddersfield obviously had felt the wrath of their manager at half-time and changed their formation to 4-4-2 but Southend were equal to anything the home team could throw at them and as in the first-half gradually imposed their dominance on the game. Another half-hearted claim for a penalty was denied in the 51st minute as a Shrimpers corner looked to have been handled by a Town defender. Mark Gower then maybe should have done better a few minutes later with a tame effort on goal after being put in a good position by some great link-up play by Robson-Kanu. Another disagreement between the two teams came to a head after an injury to Nicky Bailey caused the referee to deny Huddersfield a breakaway opportunity. The game’s first yellow card was shown in the 71st minute when the Terriers centre-half Page was deemed guilty of going in too high on James Walker.
The Southend defence then seemed to lose it’s shape and composure with Flahavan having to come to the rescue of his fellow defenders with a solid save from Worthington and then after a goalmouth scramble had caused Southend to concede a corner, Huddersfield equalised. The corner was floated to the far post and Booth rose above his marker to head home. Steve Tilson reacted fairly quickly by replacing Black and goalscorer Robson-Kanu with Moussa and the fit-again Lee Barnard, with also one time Shrimpers target Luke Beckett and League One Apprentice of the Year Danny Broadbent coming on for Town. The home team tried to take advantage of their ascendancy and steal all three points but Bailey & McCormack notably upped their work-rates to sniff out any real danger. Belgian U18 international Moussa was obviously keen to show his manager he shouldn’t have been dropped and showed some neat touches on the ball although was guilty of two strange pieces of play in the 86th minute. He laid the ball across to Gower when he really should have shot and then almost immediately tried to make up for his error by shooting onto the roof of the Huddersfield net when a pass to the unmarked Walker was the better option. Andy Ritchie then made his final substitution by bringing on young Irish midfielder James Berrett to replace his captain Worthington. As the game entered it’s dying minutes and probable stalemate, Anthony Grant earned the Shrimpers only yellow card of the game with a 2 footed lunge. Once the 4th official signalled there would be a minimum of 5 additional minutes to be played, the slightly subdued collection of Blues supporters finally found their voice and urged their team on to a winner. Simon Francis cleverly won a corner for Southend which saw a bullet header from Adam Barrett cleared off the line. Barnard then picked up the loose ball and managed to shoot on the turn but this was easily saved by the Huddersfield keeper. Alan McCormack picked up a nodded down goal-kick in midfield and managed to outfox the Town centre-halves and stormed into the box to unleash a right footed drive underneath the despairing dive of Glennon to send both the travelling Shrimpers Army and his team-mates into ecstatic celebrations. In truth, there was no time for Huddersfield to recover from such a killer blow and after almost 7 minutes of injury-time the referee blew the final whistle.
FT - Huddersfield Town 1-2 Southend United
Flahavan (7.5) - some important saves and came well for a couple of crosses, shame he conceded from yet another set-piece though
Francis (7.5) - generally kept his position and often had a lot to add going forwards
Mulgrew (6) - fairly anonymous in the third of the match he played although did make one strong key challenge
Clarke (6.5) - again guilty of potentially catastrophic errors but luckily there was always someone there to bail him out
Barrett (7) - solid at the back and unlucky not to score, great celebrations for the winner and at full-time, he loves SUFC as much as we do
Black (6.5) - in the thick of it in the first-half, probably Southend’s most dangerous player, but almost anonymous in the 2nd. Swapping him for Moussa also seemed strange seeing as Scannell was also on the bench
Gower (7) - had the beating of his full-back 9 times out of 10, shocking delivery for set-pieces though
McCormack (8 MotM) - great winning goal, some important (clean challenges) and never gives up, a leader of the midfield
Bailey (7.5) - looked to have pulled up with a hamstring problem in the first half but seemed to run it off and imposed himself a lot more on the game in the second-half
Robson-Kanu (7.5) - maybe not 100% comfortable playing as a striker but took his goal very well
Walker (7) - some good opportunities but just didn’t get the run of the ball a striker sometimes needs to turn a chance into a goal
Grant (7), for Mulgrew 35mins - seems awfully one-footed but did well in general and made some key interceptions
Barnard (6), for Robson-Kanu 78mins - put himself about and was in the thick of the attack for his 20 minutes
Moussa (6.5), for Black 78mins - eager to impress Tilson and slotted back into the team nicely
Not used - Collis & Scannell
Mike Pike (5) - far too whistle-happy plus allowed the Huddersfield keeper to take free-kicks whilst the ball was rolling on a number of occasions. Also seemed to wait for his assistants to advise of the correct decision far too often
Away Fans (437) - fairly subdued, until second-half injury time
Attendance 7,823 - a lovely stadium somewhat let down by lack of any atmosphere from the home support. Hopefully this won’t become standard Fossetts Farm fare.