Huddersfield Town suffered their first home defeat since Chris Powell’s first match in charge in a game short on excitement, high in frustration.

And while the boss isn’t quite back to square one, there is clearly plenty of work to be done.

Powell’s side were 21st in the Championship after the 2-1 defeat by Middlesbrough at the John Smith’s on September 13.

Saturday’s setback, their second in succession after the 5-0 drubbing at Norwich City, left them 20th.

The manager is expecting to be busy during the January transfer window.

But there are crucial games before then, at Rotherham United on Boxing Day and at home to Bolton Wanderers on Sunday.

Bolton, who are 16th, won 1-0 at Millwall on Friday night and 19th-placed Rotherham 2-1 at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

So the two games in three days will not only test Town’s stamina and confidence levels but the manager’s team selection and tactics.

The pair’s proximity to Powell’s side in the table makes victories all the more valuable

It’s not long since Town lost 1-0 at Bolton in a game similar to that against Birmingham.

Just as in Lancashire last month, chances were scarce in a slog which was always likely to be settled by a lucky break or a bit of quality.

David Cotterill provided the latter with a well-struck 70th-minute free-kick.

 

The ball was driven powerfully and swerved late – but should keeper Alex Smithies have done better?

After midfielder Conor Coady played Town into trouble with a poor pass, the set-piece was conceded by Anthony Gerrard’s foul on Clayton Donaldson.

It spoiled an otherwise solid show by the centre-back, who made his first appearance of the season in place of the suspended Murray Wallace.

Powell picked Lee Peltier ahead of Tommy Smith at right-back as Town tried to deal with the threat of wide players Cotterill and Demarai Gray.

And Harry Bunn, back after a thigh injury, returned for a first game in four on the left of a three-man frontline.

Powell’s decision to leave both Nahki Wells and James Vaughan on the bench provided plenty of pre-match discussion.

The pair were both introduced – in a double substitution for Bunn and Grant Holt – but not until Town were trailing.

Joe Lolley was the third change, for Jonathan Hogg.

And his lively cameo left supporters wondering if he might have conjured an equaliser had he been on for more than the remaining three minutes of regulation time and five added on.

Holt was the only other home player to seriously sting the fingers of Birmingham keeper Darren Randolph, who dealt comfortably with a couple of long rangers by Bunn.

Meanwhile Cotterill and David Davis provided the main threat to Smithies, the former eventually finding a way through.

It meant Town suffered a first home defeat in eight and a seventh overall under Powell, who will be desperate for his sixth win this Friday.

The trip to Rotherham marks the halfway stage of Town’s third season at second-tier level.

And it goes without saying that Town, so slick in beating Nottingham Forest at the start of November, have to arrest a slide which is reflected by a tally of just one win and four points from seven matches.

There looks sure to be at least one departure, with on-loan Holt due back at Wigan after the Bolton game,

And any other activity during the January window is likely to be a big factor in where in the table Town end up after another 24 games.