Home expectancy weighs heavily on Town

As the old adage goes, with great success comes great responsibility, or indeed expectancy as was the case here.

And Town certainly have experienced great success at home, with Chris Powell's arrival heralding an apparent new dawn full of vibrant attacking displays that swatted aside the likes of Blackpool (4-2) and Nottingham Forest (3-0).

They also showed a different side to secure perhaps an even more commendable result against Mark Warburton's Brentford juggernaut two weeks ago, a result which went entirely against the two side's respective formbooks.

After such a thumping defeat last week at Carrow Road, fans were at the very least entitled to some sort of reaction, but they weren't even treated to that, let alone the free-flowing football which has been synonymous with Huddersfield home displays for quite some time now.

So long in fact that this was Town's first setback at the John Smith's Stadium since Powell's very first game in charge - a late 2-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough - and it was clear through regular audible groans that they were used to much better than an overly-cautious display.

The standards Town set in sweeping their way past everyone in their path have given fans hope to cling onto in the face of some poor results on the road, but those standards ironically came back to haunt Town here.

Powell caught between two stools

The Town manager admitted after the game that reverting to 4-3-3 was a decision born out of wariness against committing the sort of errors that came to prove so costly at Norwich.

Sensibility ultimately prevailed and you can understand why as Powell went about lowering an alarming goals for column and goal difference, but Town fans left the John Smith's Stadium scratching their heads over some of the decisions made.

It was opposite number Gary Rowett who departed with all the plaudits after masterminding a second away win and now seven points on the road under his guidance by implementing a blueprint which delivered a polished away performance.

The Blues carried out an old-fashioned smash-and-grab raid on Town thanks to David Cotterill's decisive strike, but it felt like a missed opportunity on Town's part to deploy a ponderous Grant Holt up front on his own.

Defensively, Town were largely sound and restricted their visitors to speculative efforts from range but it impacted significantly on their efforts at the other end and Rowett sensed blood.

He moved David Davis from his initial defensive midfield station to a more advanced role and was the more reactive of the two managers, with fans also left bemused by the timing of Powell's subs, bringing on the likes of James Vaughan and Nahki Wells on too late for either to get into the game.

SkyBet Championship - Huddersfield Town (0) v Birmingham City (1) - Sean Scannell tackled by David Davis
 

This is a team who have become too reliant on wing play

One of the highlights of Town's seven-game unbeaten run and most exciting aspects to their brand of football was the symmetry between Sean Scannell and Harry Bunn, who returned to the starting XI after a three-match absence.

When the duo have functioned in tandem, Town have looked an irresistible, overwhelming outfit but when they fail to click, the consequences can be dire.

Scannell was the matchwinner last time out against Brentford with an inspired performance but he was never close to recapturing those heights against the Blues, with Powell admitting after the game that the two widemen had been kept in check by Jonathan Grounds and Paul Caddis respectively.

And it has been an increasingly noticeable trend since Town's bubble was burst after the Nottingham Forest win, a match in which both shone and wreaked havoc from first minute to last.

At Derby, Scannell complained of illness and was withdrawn midway through the second half after an understandably ineffectual outing while Bunn suffered from an early miss in the 3-1 loss at Fulham.

Bunn's return should have given Town the added purpose they needed out wide but frustrations grew when it emerged Town had little if any alternative to the strategy which has served the Terriers so well during Powell's honeymoon period.

Lolley hands his manager food for thought

With Scannell toiling and Town looking devoid of any ideas in the final third, Powell introduced the infectious Joe Lolley to proceedings and the winger made a tangible impact once more.

He was brought on late at Bolton Wanderers but had a positive influence on his side and he was a similarly prominent figure in the final throes here as Town's attempts to force an equaliser grew more and more desperate.

Lolley injected an urgency so sorely lacking throughout from Town's frontline during a fleeting spell on the field but surely Powell cannot ignore his claims for more regular involvement on this evidence.

He arguably mustered Town's best opportunity - Holt's inexplicable first-half miss aside - by fashioning some space and bending in an effort towards the far corner which forced the outstanding Darren Randolph into a sprawling save.

The 22-year-old was possibly thrust into the limelight too soon by former manager Mark Robins and his development has stalled somewhat so far this term, with Powell keen not to place too much pressure on his young shoulders.

But should his team continue to misfire in front of goal - this was the Terriers' fourth game in their last five without a goal - the calls for the former Kidderminster Harriers man to start will only grow louder and louder.

Gerrard proves he may still have a part to play

The January transfer window will be vital in shaping the rest of Town's season as Powell continues to develop an understanding of the tools he has at his disposal in this squad.

A new striker appears the most pressing issue with Grant Holt due to return to Wigan Athletic and a central midfielder will also be high on the manager's wishlist but Anthony Gerrard's impressive return to action might help the manager to save a few quid in another position.

His presence in the starting line-up was an enforced one with Joel Lynch still sidelined with a groin injury and Murray Wallace serving a one-match suspension, but took his chance with a determined display in the challenge against the rangy Clayton Donaldson.

There was no shirking in the aerial duels or bringing the ball out of defence when required and he looked eager to convince after much of the pre-match discussion had centred on the various possibilities that could fill in alongside captain Mark Hudson.

Signs of rustiness were naturally evident and critics will highlight his foul in the build-up to Cotterill's goal, but given this was an inaugural first-team run-out of the season, it offered some encouragement to Town fans.

The defence wasn't ultimately the problem on Saturday and Gerrard is certainly not the long-term solution to plugging a central defensive gap but as Town bid for an instant recovery at Rotherham United on Boxing Day, Powell can lean on the experience, leadership and resilience that encapsulated Gerrard's return to first-team action.