Date: 9 March 2019
This was my first ever visit to Huddersfield and – given Town’s precarious league position – could also be my last for a while! So it was good to witness a well-deserved Cherries’ win.
The gloom really seems to have set in amongst local supporters. Most of what the matchday announcer was saying was indecipherable on account of a strong local accent and a very poor PA system, but we did hear him say that season tickets are now on sale for 2019-2020 and fans are urged to buy them “whatever league we’ll be playing in next season”. It was amazing to hear this assumption that the team is going down – and before today’s game had even kicked off. And it can’t have done much for the Huddersfield team’s confidence if they overheard it!
Something that wasn’t gloomy, though, was the weather. It was a dry, sunny afternoon for this match, in contrast with torrential rain on the Friday and snow – yes, snow – on the Sunday morning. Our team lined up with Lerma back from suspension and Wilson back from injury. Eddie had been criticised for "parking the bus" the previous week, so he reverted to a 4-4-2 system. This inevitably led to the dropping of Simpson, but the other casualty was Clyne. I’d given Clyne the lowest marks the previous week, so if someone had to be dropped I was happy with this decision.
The shape of the game soon became evident. Boruc would be virtually a spectator in our goal; Mepham and Aké would deal with every threat – Mepham being particularly effective today; and Lerma was back in his usual aggressive form, lunging in with risky tackles left, right and centre but managing to avoid any bookings today. I was also impressed with Surman: he was taking the captaincy very seriously and joining in conversation with the referee whenever any issue arose. He was also getting forward more, on one occasion in the second half being the most advanced player of all! But that’s to get ahead of myself somewhat...
Going back to the first half, our first goal came after about 20 minutes. For some time all our attacks had been involving Brooks or Fraser, and this latest one involved both of them before Wilson chested the ball into the net from close range. The only other headline of this half was a late injury (that looked like a hamstring) to Smith. He came down outside the field of play, but deliberately rolled back onto the pitch to stop the game. (Needless to say, home fans weren’t very impressed!) Fortunately Clyne was on hand to take over at right back, and he was brought on even though only seconds remained before the break. Half time: 0-1 to us.
King had a scoring chance early in the second half, but his shot was blocked. Brooks went down apparently injured at the precise time (65 minutes) that he’s usually substituted anyway! So Solanke took his place numerically, though he actually squeezed between King (right) and Wilson (left) up front while Clyne and Fraser became wing-backs and Daniels joined a back three. We’ve often conceded a goal straight after a change of system, but this time we actually scored within a minute: Wilson unselfishly crossing the ball to an unmarked Fraser on the left, who slid the ball home. A 2-0 win away from home is a good result in anyone’s books, but Bournemouth will have been disappointed with rather too many wasted opportunities to increase the score, particularly two chances in quick succession for King in the second half. (He’d been somewhat ‘snatching’ at shots all afternoon, never quite clinical enough.) By the 80th minute home supporters were leaving in large numbers (a Town fan told me afterwards that he’d never seen so many people leave so early) as we sang “Is this a fire drill?” and “We’re winning away, how sh*t must you be?” Home fans who hadn’t left responded with “It’s only two-nil, how sh*t must you be?” There was a late scramble around Huddersfield’s goal when several of our players got in each other’s way; it looked as though an Aké header was blocked by Solanke in the end! And finally, although two of today’s substitutions had been determined by injuries, one more was possible – so Mousset came on for King in injury time.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Smith (7), Mepham (8), Aké (7), Daniels (7);
Brooks (8), Lerma (7), Surman (7), Fraser (8);
Wilson (7), King (6)
Mepham, Aké, Daniels;
Clyne, Lerma, Surman, Fraser;
Solanke, Mousset, Wilson