HUDDERSFIELD Town are still seeking a pre-season win after Adam Dugdale’s early goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat in their latest friendly at Crewe.
While the starting XI had longer on the pitch than in the previous three outings, manager Simon Grayson again varied formation, his side remaining a work in progress.
Town, as expected, handed a first outing to new midfield signing Keith Southern, with the former Blackpool man partnering Oliver Norwood in the centre and Lee Novak and Danny Ward out wide.
Jordan Rhodes, amid reports of fresh interest from Fulham and Blackburn, and Sean Scannell were paired up front as Grayson plumped for a 4-4-2 formation against a home side whose attack was led by Mathias Pogba, newly recruited from Wrexham and in hot scoring form so far this pre-season.
Pogba, from Guadeloupe, was soon showing his prowess, unleashing a fierce angled shot which Town skipper Peter Clarke did well to block.
Experienced Southern was quick to impose himself on the game, but Joel Lynch was a little too exuberant with a 13th-minute challenge on tricky winger Byron Moore and was warned by referee Steve Martin.
When Southern was harshly penalised for a foul on Westwood, the Crewe man fizzed the free-kick just over, then, when Lynch again brought down Moore wide out on the right in the 17th minute, the League I side struck.
Westwood delivered the set-piece low and defender Dugdale met it first time and drilled home from 14 yards.
Town responded by forcing a corner, taken by Ward, which Novak touched on for Scannell to fire in a shot which was deflected wide.
Then in the 28th minute, Scannell broke forward and laid the ball off to Norwood, whose cross from the right flew across the face of goal and only just evaded the stretching Rhodes.
Town’s frontline took on a more familiar look after half an hour, when Novak came inside and Scanell moved out to the right.
Grayson’s side were seeing a lot more of the ball, and Rhodes came close when he met Jack Hunt’s cross and turned to drive in a shot which Crewe scorer Dugdale cleared off the line.
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But Crewe remained dangerous, and Clarke made another vital clearance to thwart Pogba as he met Westwood’s free-kick from the left.
Town were unchanged at the start of the second half for the first time in their four friendlies so far, although Scannell now took up position on the left and Ward on the right.
Crewe had two good chances in the first five minutes, with Westwood shooting over before Pogba darted into the area only to put his angled shot wide.
Grayson made a string of changes around the hour mark and Town went 4-3-3, with Southern, Oscar Gobern and Adam Clayton in the middle.
Clayton was soon busy, and delivered an inviting cross which Southern was unable to make the most of.
Antony Kay, off the bench as Town made more changes on 74 minutes, headed over from Clayton’s free-kick after a trip on Kallum Higginbotham.
Then Tom Clarke made a key clearance to deny Max Clayton as Crewe’s England Under 18 ace shaped to shoot late on.
Crewe: Martin, Davis, Westwood, Ellis, Dugdale, M Clayton, Pogba, Moore (Daniels, HT), Robertson, (Turton, 74), West (White, 74).
Town: Smithies (Bennett, 60mins), Hunt, Dixon (Woods, 60), Southern (Robinson, 74), Lynch (T Clarke, 64), P Clarke (Kay, 74), Scannell (Higginbotham, 74), Norwood (Gobern, 60), Rhodes (Lee, 74), Novak, Ward (Clayton, 60).
Referee: Steve Martin.
Att: 1,402 (115 Town fans).