Stevenage 2 - 2 Huddersfield Town: Examiner match report

HUDDERSFIELD Town were denied victory by Robin Shroot’s last gasp leveller just minutes after Town keeper Alex Smithies pulled off a superb penalty save.

Stevenage v Huddersfield Town
Stevenage v Huddersfield Town
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HUDDERSFIELD Town were denied victory by Robin Shroot’s last gasp leveller just minutes after Town keeper Alex Smithies pulled off a superb penalty save.

Town’s talented young keeper did brilliantly to dive to his left and deny Scott Laird from the spot in the 81st minute after Sean Morrison’s foul Laurie Wilson.

But he couldn’t prevent a Shroot finishing from fellow substitute Jennison Myrie-Williams cross as Stevenage completed a stunning late fightback following early second half goals from Town’s Danny Ward and striker Lee Novak.

Town boss Simon Grayson made three changes to the side which sealed a 2-0 home win over Exeter in his first match at the helm.

With 30-goal top scorer Jordan Rhodes away on Scotland Under 21 duty, Novak came in after impressing from the bench on Saturday.

The other two substitutes who appeared against Exeter, Joey Gudjonsson and Danny Cadamarteri, also stepped up, at the expense of Anton Robinson and Gary Roberts, who were both on the bench.

While Town were seeking a fourth double of the campaign, Stevenage were out to disprove those suggesting they had taken their eye off the ball after losing both games since booking a big FA Cup fifth-round replay at Tottenham.

The home team were missing nine-goal top scorer Chris Beardsley and ex-Arsenal winger Luke Freeman through injury.

Stevenage won a dangerous free-kick for a foul by Gary Naysmith just 25 seconds in, with Michael Bostwick’s low effort deflected for a corner which Town cleared.

Ward conjured Town’s first attempt on target in the seventh minute, connecting with Alan Lee’s lay-off to bring a good save from Chris Day.

But the home side were playing some fluent football, and it took a timely interception by Jamie McCombe to cut out an incisive cross-cum-shot from the left by Scott Laird.

A 23rd-minute foul on Lee brought a promising free-kick for Town, but Ward’s square delivery took Jack Hunt by surprise, and the move broke down disappointingly.

Moments later, home skipper Mark Roberts was well positioned when meeting Joel Byrom’s corner, but headed wide.

Another foul on Lee led to another decent effort by Ward on the half hour.

When Naysmith’s free-kick was only partially cleared, Gudjonsson teed up the former Bolton man, whose low, swerving shot was pushed away by Day for a corner which came to nothing.

Town again came close on 34 minutes, when McCombe’s header from fellow centre-back Sean Morrison’s long throw brought a scrambled clearance.

Stevenage swapped keepers at half-time, with Alan Julian replacing Day and lining up in front of the travelling Town supporters.

And much to their delight, the new man was picking the ball out of the net just five minutes in.

Ward might have been twice denied by Day, but he squeezed a shot between Julian and the right-hand post after a great break by Novak, who seized on Stacy Long’s loose pass and hared forward from halfway.

Julian’s night got worse when the lead was doubled five minutes later.

This time, the stopper seemed to be taken by surprise as Novak took possession from Hunt 25 yards out and hit a screamer into the roof of the net.

Happily for Town, Smithies was equal to Laurie Wilson’s well-struck long-range drive in the 58th minute.

But he was powerless to prevent big defender Bostwick heading home from Byrom’s 71st-minute corner to breathe new life into the home challenge.

Town had made their first change by that stage, with Antony Kay coming on for Oscar Gobern, and on 74 minutes, Kallum Higginbotham took over from Lee, who had put in a solid stint.

 
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