THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

18 May ~ Often in play-off football recent history is overlooked while past events take on greater currency. So it is for Huddersfield Town fans as they prepare to welcome Bournemouth tonight. The confidence of being without argument the third-best team in League One this season is tempered by the painful knowledge from personal history that such standing counts for little in the harum scarum end of season shoot-out. You have to look back 27 games and into another calendar year to find the last time Huddersfield tasted defeat in league football.

Lee Clark's team won more away matches than Chelsea and Manchester United combined in the season currently in its death rattle. A points haul of 87 would have taken them up in virtually any other season. Only the persistent and infuriating quality and consistency of Southampton and Brighton (who were beaten home and away by Town) prevented a merited promotion.

The 1-1 draw in the away leg at Bournemouth, in which Huddersfield seemed to settle for taking the tie back to Yorkshire all square midway through the second half before ending the game hanging on for that unconvincing result, has bred an uneasy mood of muted triumphalism. All the talk has been of taking nothing for granted, of course. Of the tie being finely poised. Of respecting the opposition. Yet there is a worrying sense that many at the club actually believe the job has been done. It shouldn't be so. Anyone in Huddersfield need only look back to the first time they were involved in the play-offs for a better warning against complacency than the lip service given to it by the management and chairman this week.

In 1992 Huddersfield had, as this year, finished third in the third tier. As this year, a drawn away leg, at Peterborough, seemed to bode well. An early goal on a balmy spring evening at Leeds Road had the home fans celebrating a trip to Wembley. But two goals from the visitors ended that party quicker than a drunk West Ham fan with a strong sense of how modern footballers should behave. They have been warned.

In truth – and shamelessly contradicting most of the above – Huddersfield should have too much for Bournemouth in the second leg. In the latter, successful part of the season Clark has shown a tactical intelligence many at the Galpharm still question he possesses, in playing a midfield-heavy formation on the road and unleashing the club's full attacking array of talent, particularly in the wide areas, at home.

A near full house, more than twice the size of the crowd that watched the first leg, will help the home team, too. Unless things start badly and nerves set in. The two sides have shared three draws so far this season and should the game go to extra time Huddersfield's strength from the bench could also be a factor. Nothing is being taken for granted, then, publicly at least. Those making the long trip north will be hoping to take advantage of any private hubris that lies beneath that veneer. Steve Wilson

Comments (10)
Comment by bovril 2011-05-18 11:43:37

i rather think that the lack lustre ticket sales - 15000 to date - says alot about the Town fans misplaced complacency. "Save the money for the final"

hmmmm....

0-1 to Bournemouth

Comment by terrierluke 2011-05-18 14:31:42

lacklustre ticket sales? Ha, that's funny. 15,000 'home' tickets you say? well, i can assure you it's a few more than that AND pay-on-the-gate tickets are also available.

Let's just say, the attendance, including the away contingent, will be around 19k - anything around that mark, in the THIRD tier of English football, is something our club can be very proud of.

No complacency around the Galpharm tonight I can assure you. Bournemouth will be given plenty of respect and rightly so - though you can't blame the home supporters for being ever so slightly optimistic/confident.

A quality game of football awaits, that's for sure.

Comment by brodes 2011-05-18 14:39:53

I can fully understand the mixed feelings of trying to avoid complacency while remaining realistic and positive.

Luton Town won the first leg of their Conference play-off 3-0 AWAY to Wrexham. Surely a simple draw, or even 2-0 defeat, at home would be easy enough for Town and the job would be done.

In the end, a 2-1 victory was secured. But going 1-0 in the eighth minute, then conceding a penalty (that was thankfully saved) five minutes later threw all previous league form and confidence out the window.

Good luck to both sides, but neither should underestimate how nerves can rattle the most confident of sides and supporters.

*12,00 tickets sold and counting for final v Wimbledon at City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday. COYH.

Comment by bovril 2011-05-18 15:35:26

16,OOO home tickets
1000 away

17,000

town have been pulling in 13000 lately. only another 3000 for the second leg of a play off that is very evenly poised?

not an attack on the club in any way. But the only empty seats for this fixture should be in the away end - which is understandable considering the midweek journey.

Comment by Cavalry Trouser Tips 2011-05-18 15:38:23

I *hate* the playoffs.

Good luck Town, but I'm going to be at a pub quiz here in Leamington all evening, safely out of the way of any televisions and phone signals.

I can't deal with the frustration and disappointment again. Even if we get through to the final, I won't be going to that. I don't deserve the day out and potentially losing to franchise doesn't bear thinking about.

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2011-05-18 15:43:46

Judging by some of the comments on Town's Down at the Mac forum after the first leg, we were awful and there's no point turning up tonight as we're as good as out...

As a Yorkshireman and Town fan, I've got to point out that we've never won a home match in the Play-Offs: '92 vs Peterborough (1-2), '95 vs Brentford (1-1), '02 vs Brentford (0-0), '04 vs Lincoln (2-2), '06 vs Barnsley (1-3) and '10 vs Millwall (0-0). And Town fans are so depressingly quick to get on their backs. I can imagine the moaning if it's 0-0 after 25 mins. Still, a pessimist is never disappointed. IT IS about time we won one of these bloody matches, though!

Comment by bovril 2011-05-18 15:54:33

i have read that they are placing those plastic "clapping fan" contraptions on the seats.
i sit in the Funtastic Family stand top tier, so the kids are sure to take every opportunity to wind me up with them.
If you see a young lad plummetting from the balcony - i apologise in advance.

Comment by Cavalry Trouser Tips 2011-05-18 16:25:25

John "SOCRATEEEEES!" Helm thinks we should be up already: http://www.examiner.co.uk/views-and-blogs/columnists/john-helm/2011/05/18/forget-the-play-offs-huddersfield-town-should-have-gone-up-automatically-in-third-john-helm-column-86081-28715868/

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2011-05-18 22:45:33

Oh, I forgot to mention that we've won all our penalty shootouts in the Play-Offs! What a game, what a night! We looked buggered in the 2nd half then it looked all over when they went 3-2 up in ET. A victory for the training ground. 3 goals over 2 legs from corners and we practised pens thoroughly in the build up.

Full credit Bournemouth - there was nothing between the 2 sides in the games we've played all season. Brilliant effort. Play like that next season and you'll be up there again. Just got the final to win now...

Comment by drew_whitworth 2011-05-18 23:00:15

Well done to Huddersfield. As a Brighton fan I have to say it's clear you deserve to be the 3rd promoted team this season. And I only live 10 miles from your excellent ground so I'd quite like to revisit next season... despite the last two results there!

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