Match report: Leeds United 2 - 2 Huddersfield Town
Dec 7 2009 by Dougie Thomson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
A LOCAL dispute perhaps, but the rest of League I should take note – on the evidence of this hugely entertaining derby, it could be a West Yorkshire one-two when it comes to the automatic promotion slots.
Town more than lived with the leaders, and having twice fought back to level, would have been celebrating a fourth successive win over their neighbours had Anthony Pilkington’s late free-kick dipped just a few inches lower.
As it was, the ball smacked against the bar, bounced down against the side of keeper Casper Ankergren’s head and was hacked to safety, much to the relief of the home fans in a bumper 36,723 Elland Road crowd.
Swelled by more than 2,700 Town supporters, it was the biggest attendance in the division this season, and they were treated to a real humdinger of a game in which Lee Novak and Jordan Rhodes cancelled out goals by Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel.
Both Leeds scorers have shone against Town in the past, and there’s no doubt Simon Grayson has built an impressive side, so it was testament to Lee Clark’s team that they stuck to their passing principles and did what no other has managed at Elland Road this season by scoring twice.
Indeed Millwall, the only side to beat Leeds in the league so far this season, are the only other to have put two past the Whites in any of their 26 games in all competitions, while just Carlisle and Charlton have staved off defeat in league matches at the end of the M621.
Town suffered a nightmare start, with Snodgrass opening the scoring just 84 seconds in with a goal which for once asked questions of bright young Town keeper Alex Smithies, who was unable to hold on to Sam Vokes’ shot, giving the Scotsman a straightforward finish.
Not surprisingly, the noise from the home support was ferocious, but the visitors admirably held their nerve, with Rhodes giving warning of the attacking intent by firing a pass from Pilkington against Ankergren’s left-hand upright.
It was a sign of things to come as Clark’s men gave just as good as they got, with the problems they were causing being illustrated by bookings for fouls for both Leeds full-backs, on-loan Cardiff man Tony Capaldi and Jason Crowe, within the first 20 minutes.
Gary Roberts was just off target from Michael Collins’ pass in the sixth minute while Antony Kay headed narrowly wide from a Pilkington cross in the ninth, with Vokes, on loan from Wolves, coming close for Leeds with a header in the 14th.
Big Slovakian centre-back Lubomir Michalik nodded narrowly wide from Snodgrass’s 21st-minute corner and Smithies did well to deny Vokes in a one-on-one set up by home skipper Jonny Howson after 26 minutes.