WHEN you want to win a battle you need warriors – and Huddersfield Town have certainly found one in Keith Southern.
The 31-year-old revelled in an enthralling midfield dogfight and played a massive part in Town grabbing three points to take them eighth in the embryonic Championship table.
Southern’s CV includes being PFA League I Player of the Year and he was also man of the match at Wembley when Blackpool won promotion to the Premier League, so his quality when the pressure is on has never been in doubt.
It was certainly to the fore against Derby, especially in a second half when the visitors had plenty of possession but just couldn’t break through two solid lines of Town defence.
Southern was all over the place, winning tackles and headers and preventing Derby getting any real rhythm into their passing game.
While Town – who got off to the perfect start through Danny Ward’s goal in the first minute – could be accused a sitting a little too deep after the break, there was nothing wrong with their resolve or their organisation.
Derby, in fact, failed to create a single clean effort on goal in the entire match, and that speaks volumes for Town’s workrate and gutsy determination.
Click on the link below to open a match action photo gallery from the game
That’s what this second successive home win was all about and, if Town are to extend their unbeaten run to five Championship matches against a bruised Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in 48 hours – Dave Jones’ side are off a 3-0 drubbing at Brighton – then they will need more of the same team resilience.
Manager Simon Grayson has made no secret of his desire to play an entertaining brand of football, but the desire to dig in and scrap to protect a lead was commendable. The home support showed their appreciation with loud ovations for full-loan debutant Adam Hammill, scorer Ward and the hard working James Vaughan when they were taken off.
Hammill has added another pacy string to Town’s bow, his trickery keeping Derby on edge after he teed up Ward’s goal with a perfect cross. It was great to see Sean Scannell back on the bench after his hamstring injury because his speed and strength were impressive in the first few games.