Huddersfield Town’s one and only home pre-season friendly ended in disappointment with a 2-1 defeat against Udinese in front of a John Smith’s crowd of 6,443.
In an open and even first-half encounter, Tom Ince struck his fourth goal in five games to give Town the lead only for a defensive error to lead to an equaliser for the Italian visitors.
And, in a low-key second-half disrupted by substitutions and theatrics, the Serie A side took the spoils courtesy of the quick-thinking Ryder Matos.
Town head coach David Wagner used the visit of the Serie A side to once again give as many of his first-team squad minutes in their legs – naming a different side for each half.
The most notable inclusions were 22-year-old trialist Dimitri Cavaré, the right-back following up his appearance against Barnsley at Oakwell on Saturday with another outing.
Aaron Mooy was also back after his extended absence for Australia in the Confederations Cup – as was Scott Malone and Michael Hefele after recovering from respective glute and Achilles injuries.
However, Tommy Smith (foot), Nahki Wells (ankle) and Jon Gorenc Stankovic (knee) were still unavailable for selection.
Although the Italians start their league campaign a week later than Town, on August 20th, they appeared sharper in the opening exchanges – forward Stipe Perica testing keeper Jonas Lossl with a well struck half-volley in the ninth minute.
Yet it was the hosts who drew first blood, with Ince adding to an already prolific pre-season by grabbing his fourth in five, curling the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
The Italians continued to look sharp though with some neat front-three interchanges; Kevin Lasagna dragging a shot wide after beating Lossl and Stipe Perica also seeing his effort go close.
At the other end, Town should have doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Rajiv van La Parra was put through with only the Udinese goalkeeper to beat before the hosts were pegged due to a Town defensive error.
Cavaré, under pressure, gave the ball away too cheaply with Lasagna’s eventual shot deflecting off Philip Billing and into the bottom corner.
The rest of the half was entertaining and even before the raft of pre-planned changes at half-time saw a completely different line-up for Wagner’s men in the second 45 minutes.
After Town’s eight changes, it understandably took a while for both sides to get going – the first real chance coming in the 52nd minute as Laurent Depoitre went close with a header from a Chris Lowe cross.
Second-half chances were few and far between, the flow of the game interrupted by the numerous changes and stereotypical play acting by Town’s Italian counterparts.
Among all the antics, the visitors did manage to play some football – and they took the lead.
Dean Whitehead brought down Lasagna for a free-kick which rattled the top of the bar from Andrija Balic before Matos reacted quickest to convert the rebound.
The rest of the half petered out and, although the overall result matters little in pre-season, the one concern was midfield enforcer Jonathan Hogg being forced off with injury late on in the game.
Town first half (4-2-3-1): Lössl; Carave, Zanka, Schindler, Malone; Williams, Billing; Ince, Palmer, van La Parra; Mounie
Town second half (4-2-3-1): Lössl; Löwe, Whitehead, Cranie, Cavaré (Hefele, 75); Hogg (Bunn, 82), Lolley; Quaner, Palmer (Mooy, 75), Kachunga; Depoitre
Unused substitutes: Coleman, Hudson, Scannell
Udinese (4-3-3): Scuffet; Widmer, Danilo, Angella (Wague, 67), Pezzella; Fofana (Badu, 46), Hallfredsson (Balic,64), Jankto; De Paul (Matos, 59), Lasagna, Perica (Ingelsson, 55).
Unused substitutes: Bizzarri, Bochniewicz, Borsellini