CHRIS ATKINSON experienced the high of his first Huddersfield Town goal – and the low of a first defeat in six derby clashes with Leeds.
The 20-year-old midfielder who is back from a loan spell at Chesterfield followed up his outing from the bench at Middlesbrough with a start at the John Smith’s Stadium.
It was his third full appearance for Town, after those at Dagenham and Yeovil during the 2010-11 League I campaign, and his sixth outing in all.
And his composed finish provided Town with a 12th-minute opener.
“I just gambled on moving into space in the box,” said the Halifax-born academy product who scored five goals in his 16 games for Chesterfield.
“Adam Clayton played a lovely ball through to me, and I took a touch and played it beyond the keeper.
“When you get into the box like that, you can’t start slashing at things. You have to be composed, and it was great to find the back of the net, probably the best feeling I’ve had in football.”
Town were unable to build on Atkinson’s goal, with Leeds striking twice in three minutes, then after Clayton’s 43rd-minute leveller from the penalty spot, twice in the second half.
“It wasn’t our best performance,” added Atkinson. “We didn’t get the ball down and pass it like we can do.
“On occasions we played into their hands, and while there was effort and workrate, the result was really disappointing, and certainly took the edge off my goal.”
The inclusion of Atkinson was one of four changes to the starting side after Middlesbrough, with Anthony Gerrard, Clayton (after suspension), and Alan Lee coming in and Paul Dixon, Lee Novak, Oliver Norwood and Anton Robinson dropping out.
“Obviously I was pleased to start. I only found out when the manager named the team a few hours before the game, and I couldn’t wait to get out there,” said Atkinson.
“I had friends and family at the game, and the fans were great and created a fantastic atmosphere.”
Atkinson believes his stint at League II Chesterfield, which followed a loan to non-league Darlington last season, has been of real benefit.
“I got regular games, which was the idea of going there, and I scored a few goals so came back full of confidence,” he continued.
“The Saturday before I was playing for Chesterfield at Plymouth and seven days later I’m scoring in a huge game against Leeds, so you never know what could happen in football.”
With Keith Southern completing a three-match ban when Bolton visit the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday, Atkinson is eager for another game.
“I’ll be working as hard as I can in training and hopefully I can force my way back in,” he said.