IT MIGHT not have been that easy on the eye, but this was a big win for Huddersfield Town.
Badly missing injured frontmen Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan as well as suspended defender Jack Hunt, the home team’s performance was pretty laboured at times.
Perhaps they were fortunate to be up against a side as short on confidence as struggling Bristol City, who remained second-bottom of the Championship after a fifth straight loss and now have Ipswich, 1-0 winners at Birmingham, breathing down their necks.
That said, the West Country team have still scored 24 times this season, so Simon Grayson’s side, now back up to seventh, deserve some credit for the clean sheet as they hit back from successive away defeats during which they conceded seven goals.
Keeper Alex Smithies made two crucial second-half saves, from Sam Baldock and Stephen McManus, and their were solid shows from central defensive duo Peter Clarke and Joel Lynch as Town old boy Jon Stead suffered a miserable return to Huddersfield.
Stead put in a good stint for City, and gave Calum Woods, back at right-back in the absence of Hunt, a tough afternoon.
Click on the link below to open a gallery of match action taken pitchsideRelated content
But Town deserved their seventh win out of 14 games so far, and after a first half enlivened only by Sean Scannell’s breakthrough goal in the 43rd minute, they created enough chances to have won more convincingly.
What a shame loan pair Beckford (hamstring) and Vaughan (thigh) were absent, because Town badly missed the pace and power they provide.
Lee Novak, as ever, gave it 100% as Town went for a 4-2-1-3 formation in which Adam Clayton tucked in behind the Geordie striker with Scannell and Adam Hammill the wide pair.
But there were too many occasions on which the effectiveness of forward breaks was limited by lack of options for the man in possession, and both sides were guilty of some poor passing.
Click on the link below for our gallery of Huddersfield Town fans taking in the game against Bristol City - are you pictured?Related content
At least Town clicked neatly when Scannell, making his fifth start, steered home his first goal for the club.
The busy Clayton, whose influence grew as the game went on, played in the ever-unselfish Novak, who beat City skipper Liam Fontaine to set up Scannell, whose last goal came on March 20 and clinched Palace’s 1-0 home win against Burnley.
Woods brought a good save from Dean Gerken early in the second half.
And Clayton steamed past McManus and drilled a shot narrowly over before testing Gerken with a header from Paul Dixon’s cross.
That move featured deft footwork by both Scannell and Hammill, whose stepover was often on show but failed to bring any end product.
Hammill, like Clayton earlier, fizzed a shot just too high while both Novak and Scannell might have done better with second-half opportunities.
The visitors, missing six-goal top scorer Stephen Davies through injury, looked the livelier for the introduction by boss Derek McInnes of substitutes Neil Kilkenny, Martyn Woolford and Ryan Taylor, all of whom have white rose connections after spells with Leeds, York and Rotherham respectively.
Woolford, in particular, helped get the ball into the Town box, and after a relatively quiet match, it was a sign of Smithies’ professionalism that he maintained his concentration right into the five minutes of time added on.