JORDAN RHODES thanked Huddersfield Town fans for three-and-a-half years of magnificent support and said of his reception at the John Smith’s Stadium: “It was really touching.”
The 22-year-old Scotland striker returned for the first time since his £8m move to Ewood Park and scored against his former club as Blackburn earned a 2-2 draw.
The result kept Rovers above Simon Grayson’s side, but Rhodes believes Town will maintain their challenge around the play-off places and pledged to keep an eye on every single result.
“It meant a great deal to score, I won’t hide that,” said Rhodes, who has six goals in 12 appearances for his new club.
“I have enjoyed scoring goals at the Galpharm, sorry John Smith’s Stadium, for the past three years and that’s because of the lovely people who watch football here.
“It’s a warm-feeling place for me, and the reception I got before the game was really touching.
“I wasn’t quite sure beforehand whether I was going to get a few boos, which maybe would have been understandable, but it was fantastic from the Town fans.
“I would like to thank them all for the support they have given me over the last three-and-a-half years and I hope it all goes well.
“Town’s is one of the first results I look for and it always will be – no matter who is playing here – because it’s a club I will always hold very dear to my heart.”
Rhodes admitted it felt strange to be playing against his former teammates – people he stays in regular touch with by regularly visiting the Canalside training ground.
Lee Novak, whose double secured Town the point, said it felt “weird” to be facing his former strike partner, and Rhodes agreed.
“I’ve never lined up against Lee before, but it was great to see him on the other side of the pitch,” said Rhodes, who is moving house nearer to Blackburn from his base in the Holme Valley.
“It wasn’t great to see him doing so well on the night, obviously, but it’s great to see him doing well generally because we are really close friends, we roomed together when I was at Town and we’ll always have that connection.
“The way things turned out just goes to show that in football you shoul never give up. We were a bit disappointed by how both Town goals came about and we’ve got to make sure we concentrate right to the end, but I thought Lee did well and also Alan Lee when he came on, because he changed the impetus of the game and put himself about, which Alan will always do.”
Town boss Grayson also praised the commitment of Novak after his goal double earned a precious point.
Grayson revealed the Geordie frontman hadn’t trained since the 1-0 victory over Bristol City but declared himself fit and did a tremendous job, scoring on 15 minutes and then in the last seconds of the 2-2 draw.
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“Lee hadn’t trained since Saturday, but we patched him up and he declared himself fit,” said the manager, who takes his side to Barnsley on Saturday.
“He worked extremely hard as the lone striker in the first half and he reaped the rewards.
“He probably won’t score two more scrappy goals in his career, but you have to be there to put them away.
“We have got some tired bodies around and a few players with knocks, but we will patch them up and get ready for the weekend.”
Still waiting for fitness updates on strikers James Vaughan (thigh) and Jermaine Beckford (hamstring), who both missed the Blackburn visit, Grayson praised Town’s fans for the backing they provided against Henning Berg’s men.
Grayson remains upset by the penalty award against Joel Lynch, for a challenge on Markus Olssen, which enabled Danny Murphy to put Rovers 2-1 up on 55 minutes.
“A decision like that can change teams’ seasons and in my opinion he got it completely wrong,” said Grayson.
“Sometimes when players come together like that you have to look at where the ball ends up.
“On that occasion if the Blackburn lad had the last touch on the ball it would have gone near the corner flag, which it didn’t.
“I have thought the referee (Roger East) has done well over the years when he’s had matches of mine, but on this occasion I thought he was very poor.
“It is testament to the players that they reacted positively. The decision, if anything, galvanised them.
“The fans played a part and got behind the team and we had players on the pitch that caused the opposition problems. Big Alan (Lee) and Lee (Novak) were a handful together and we were positive in everything we did.”
Grayson said it was almost inevitable that Jordan Rhodes would find the net.
“You know what you are going to get with Jordan, he has fantastic goalscoring ability,” he said.
“We switched off for 30 seconds in the first half and he punished us, just like he did many times during his time here.
“It was inevitable that he would score.”