LEE CLARK has hailed his “magnificent captain” as Huddersfield Town try to equal a long-standing club record – and keep their League I promotion bid on track – at home to Swindon tomorrow.
The Galpharm side, playing at home for only the second time in six matches, aim for a fifth win in that spell.
And they are also trying to match the club’s best-ever unbeaten league run in a season of 17 games achieved by the 1924-25 top-flight title-winning team managed by the legendary Herbert Chapman and skippered by Clem Stephenson.
Peter Clarke is the man with the armband 86 years on, and the current boss believes signing the 29-year-old from Southend during the 2009 close-season was one of the best deals he’s ever done.
“Everything about Pete is magnificent,” said Clark of the man who shrugged off a back niggle to crash home the last gasp-goal which clinched Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Brentford and kept Town second in the table.
“I thought it was fitting that a player as brave as he is should get the winner, especially after I was going to bring him off after 20 minutes.
“He was feeling his back and struggling big style in the first half, and at one stage, I was very close to putting Tom Clarke on.
“But Pete asked me let him carry on until half-time, and after some treatment, he wanted to start the second half and see how he went, and that attitude is typical of the man.
“He is such a reliable player, and an outstanding signing for me, particularly because we got him on a Bosman.
“He’s been everything I expected and more in the way he leads the team, shows desire and determination and bounces back from setbacks. Pete handles himself professionally on and off the field, and he’s a leader on and off the field in the way he gets the lads together.”
Town set up base in the West Country in between Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers and Tuesday’s triumph, and Clark believes it paid dividends.
“It was a great few days for us with the two wins and being able spend time together and get to know one another even better,” he explained.
“We weren’t at our best at Brentford, but we kept going and claimed the win and teams that are successful do that.
“We started the game well enough, but by the 20-minute mark, we’d become a little bit easy to get at and we were allowing them too much of the ball.
“The system (previously 4-4-2) was changed a bit at that stage, with Benik Afobe going on the right, Gary Roberts on the left and Jordan Rhodes up top, and it was important to get to half-time without conceding.
“We did that and we were able to reorganise, because Benik isn’t really a wide player, he’s an out-and-out striker.
“We wanted to keep his power and pace in order to stretch their defence, but we wanted to get Danny Ward on too, so we had to sacrifice Jordan.
“We saw that when we put pressure on their centre-backs, they started to make errors, and we were looking solid ourselves, so it was great to get that goal.”
As well as giving a debut to 19-year-old Bolton winger Ward, who was a big hit on loan to Swindon last season, Clark was also able to use experienced left-back Gary Naysmith, fit again after a calf injury, from the bench in the second half at Brentford.
Meanwhile versatile Lee Peltier completes his four-match suspension for being sent off at Yeovil, and will be available when Town host Notts County in front of the Sky Sports TV cameras a week on Sunday.