SIMON GRAYSON sung the praises of Lee Novak and Alex Smithies after Huddersfield Town beat Bristol City without the services of first-choice strike duo Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan.
With the loan pair ruled out through injury, Novak led the line and set up the winning goal for Sean Scannell before keeper Smithies preserved the lead with fine second-half saves from Sam Baldock and Stephen McManus.
“Lee is a different type of player to Jermaine or James, and doesn’t get the same kind of plaudits,” said Grayson.
“But he plays an important role and is a very unselfish player.
“And we were indebted to Alex for making a couple of really good saves.
“That late one from McManus was the sign of a good goalkeeper. He kept his concentration high and I’m delighted at the clean sheet.”
Grayson went with a 4-2-1-3 formation, explaining: “The aim was to have Adam Clayton playing just behind Lee Novak with the two midfield lads (Keith Southern and Oliver Norwood) trying to hold and give the front four (Adam Hammill, Clayton, Novak and Scannell) the opportunity to get forward and cause them problems.
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“We didn’t pass the ball well enough, but the lads put in a great effort to win us the game.
“You sometimes have to win matches in different ways.
“We didn’t play the fluent football we are capable of and we didn’t have the high tempo we would like.
“In the first half, one or two passes went astray and we got a little bit edgy. The goal was probably the first bit of quality we had.
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“Once we’d got it we had something to hang onto and we ground out the win in dogged style.
“At least in the second half we passed with more purpose, people were making more forward runs and if we’d been a little more ruthless, we’d have scored more.
Bristol boss Derek McInnes said: “We knew Huddersfield always start games well at home and it was important we knocked them out of their stride.
“We were hard working and energetic and stopped their best players.
“We looked very comfortable for the majority of the first half. But Huddersfield scoring on the stroke of half-time changed things.
“They had something to hold on to and we were chasing the game.”