If you can’t win, make sure you don’t lose!
Both Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers stuck to the old adage like glue in a game short on both clear-cut chances and genuine entertainment.
It was all a bit sterile, with Huddersfield Town keeper Alex Smithies, while solid, not really called upon to make anything other than routine saves as Blackburn Rovers struggled to get shots on target.
Meanwhile his opposite number Jake Kean was up to the job when he needed to be, diving to his left to keep out Adam Hammill’s glancing back header from Jonathan Hogg’s cross late in the first half.
Kean looked on in relief early on as James Vaughan’s early header from Paul Dixon’s cross smacked against the bar with the Town man ruled offside in any case.
And when Dixon pushed forward onto Hammill’s neat pass early in the second half, both sets of fans held their breath as the defender shaped to deliver with colleagues waiting, only to overcook his cross.
By that stage, Town were starting to get to grips with Tom Cairney, the on-loan Hull midfielder who was prominent for the home side in the first half.
There had been a couple of worrying occasions on which Town stood off the Scotland Under 21 midfielder, allowing him to advance and shoot.
Thankfully both efforts went wide, while Cairney’s teammates Tommy Spurr, Scott Dann, Jordan Rhodes and Todd Kane all missed the target when in decent positions in the first half, before Chris Taylor cut in and curled a shot just too high in the home side’s best chance of the second half.
The clash had been billed as a shoot-out between Town hot shots past and present, with Vaughan going into the game with nine goals and Rhodes six, but both struggled to get free of tight shackles.
Town’s defensive resolve, which brought a second clean sheet in three games, was pleasing, and it’s to be hoped the knee injury which forced Joel Lynch to hobble off with 12 minutes to go doesn’t prove too serious.
The midfield show was less so, although things got better when Oscar Gobern was brought on six minutes into the second half as Mark Robins reshuffled, pushing left wing-back Dixon further upfield.
He replaced striker Jon Stead, who certainly did his bit defensively, but struggled to make an impact up front against the club who bought him from Town for ï¿½1.25m back in 2004.
The applause from the Rovers fans as he came off showed Stead is still well regarded in Blackburn as well as Huddersfield.
But like Martin Paterson, whose Burnley connections meant he was booed by the home fans when he came on, his season has still to take off.
Midfielder Adam Clayton has also produced much better performances than Saturday’s, while Hammill’s move up the pitch to accommodate full debutant Jazz Richards at right wing-back wasn’t a total success.
Hammill took the advanced midfield slot and while his workrate was admirable, he was given little leeway by the Rovers rearguard.
Even so, a point’s a point, and last season, this was the kind of game Town might well have lost.