Top six continue to be a stumbling block
Although they weren’t good enough against Burnley last month, Town have shown they can compete against the top six. Against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday David Wagner’s side were competitive throughout what was a very even game.
Wednesday shaded proceedings, but the winner came from one of just two clear chances - and this is a side that are the division’s third highest scorers.
Against Middlesbrough last November, Town were superb and were very unlucky to come away empty-handed.
And yet we continue to wait for the first win against a member of the top six this season.
With the next two games against Boro and Hull City, that is a worry, but also a chance to put that right. It’s time results matched performances against the division’s best.
Both sides will feel aggrieved by the referee
Iain Williamson was handed officiating duties for this Yorkshire derby, and did his best to calm down what was a fractious encounter - fierce tackles on the pitch encouraged by both sets of fans baying for more from the stands.
However, he got both major decisions wrong.
Town fans will justifiably claim they should have had a penalty when Philip Billing’s header was handled, but Town skipper Mark Hudson was extremely lucky not to receive his marching orders.
On a yellow card from the first half, he made a fierce challenge on Fernando Forestieri and hearts remained in mouths for what felt like a five minute chat from the man in the middle.
Wagner knew his captain had been fortunate, and immediately subbed him off to avoid Williamson having the chance to rectify the error.
However, two wrongs don’t make a right and Williamson left feeling the ire of both sides.
Rajiv van La Parra has work to do
Following an uninspiring debut against Leeds, Wagner withdrew his loan signing from the spotlight and the side - leaving him to watch the 90 minutes from the bench.
Although the boss had to use one sub on a defensive switch to protect the skipper, he did bring on a winger to try and change the game.
But he chose to introduce Sean Scannell in place of Harry Bunn, with the newest signing left to contemplate what he must do to get back into the XI.
Games are coming thick and fast in the run-in, a fact that no doubt influenced the decision to leave Jamie Paterson on the bench, but the Dutchman appeared to have fallen down the pecking order.
He will need time to adapt to his new surroundings but will be keen to prove to his manager he deserves another chance swiftly.
International break does Town no favours
Following each of this season’s four international breaks, Town have failed to pick up three points.
This result was the second time they have lost to Wednesday following the two week break - it was a similar story in David Wagner’s first game back in November, with a 3-1 defeat at Hillsborough.
Add to that a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff and a goalless draw with Ipswich and you could be forgiven for cursing the international calendar a little louder than most football supporters.
While Town haven’t been handed any easy fixtures on the weekend that the domestic calendar has resumed, it’s a concerning sequence that must change next term.
Wagner refuses to accept defeat
For the away fans, the sight of Jed Steer coming up for a corner in stoppage time was an unusual one - this was a league game, rather than a do or die cup clash.
But Town fans have seen this before. They also wouldn’t have been surprised to see Joel Lynch thrown up front late on to support Nahki Wells, especially after watching Mark Hudson set up the equaliser at MK Dons earlier this season.
It doesn’t matter that it’s a league game, Wagner will not accept defeat until the final whistle, and he’s unafraid to throw his last line of defence forward to chase an equaliser and risk a second goal being conceded.
It’s a refreshing attitude of a man who trusts his players to get back, and one who would rather throw his chips down for points rather than get bogged down in protecting a goal difference.