By Bob Young
Last week I predicted Town would put Rochdale to the sword then come up against one of the big boys in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
OK, so it didn’t take a genius to work out the in-form Terriers would beat a team 26 places beneath them and then come across Premier League opposition in the last 16 - or did it?
Yes, maybe I’m doing myself a disservice - not for the result against the Dale, but the prospect of facing a top tier team.
As every season passes, the FA Cup is slowly but surely becoming less of a priority for the top guns in English football.
Last weekend, the Premier League and most of the Championship sides made on average seven changes from their usual first team selections and some of them suffered the consequences.
Liverpool, Watford, Hull City, Newcastle and Brighton all thought they could put out the reserves and breeze past their lower league counterparts, but how wrong they were.
Then came Sunday lunchtime and the possible giant killing tie between Sutton United and Leeds United, separated by 86 places in the football pyramid - surely the Whites wouldn’t make the same mistake as they had in the past against the likes of Histon?
Garry Monk made 10 changes and got what he deserved - absolutely nothing.
Sutton outfought Leeds all over their 3G pitch and the visitors were lucky to come away from Gander Green Lane with a 1-0 defeat - as it could so easily have been four or five.
Then there’s the draw for the fifth round - whirring balls... "Sutton United will play"... whirring sound... "Arsenal".
Can you imagine the look on the Leeds United owners’ faces when they realize the financial implications of that decision to rest 10 first team players?
Conservatively, I reckon - with a full house at Elland Road and the TV money - they’ve blown the chance to put £2m into the coffers at LS11.
Town’s reward for taking the cup seriously is a home fixture against Manchester City, who put out a very strong side to dispose of Crystal Palace 3-0.
When Pep Guardiola brings his Blues to the John Smith Stadium in February, he had better bring two things - a first team squad and a determined attitude, otherwise he might just be travelling back over the M62 to compare notes with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
Next up for Town are two games that may well define their season - firstly is a home tie on Thursday night against the high-flying Seagulls.
Together with Newcastle, Brighton are opening a gap between the chasing pack for the automatic places. Town must beat Chris Hughton’s men if they harbour any thoughts of snatching one of the top two spots in the league.
With home advantage, Ladbrokes make Town the narrowest of favourites at 17/10. Brighton are a whisker behind them at 7/4 with the draw on offer at 2/1.
Although Brighton are sitting pretty in the Championship, their last trip away from the Amex didn’t go to plan.
At Deepdale they came up against a resilient Preston side that defended like Trojans and - from their two shots on target throughout the whole 90 minutes - scored with both attempts to secure a most unlikely 2-0 win.
If Town can do the same they’re going to have to be on top form, for Brighton's loss to the Lilywhites was only their second away defeat all season, and only their third in all league games.
Chris Hughton's side have the best defensive record in the Championship, conceding just 18 goals in the 27 games played, so Town will have to be on their mettle and might need Brighton to have travel sickness once more.
As much as I’d like to sit here and tip Town to win this game, maybe it’s time to have a reality check.
A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world for David Wagner’s boys - in fact it would keep them very much in the playoff places.
If Town fans are honest with themselves, that is the best they can hope for this season.
I’ll take the 5/1 on a 1-1 stalemate or maybe tempted to indulge in the 14/1 for a 2-2 draw.
Then on Sunday it’s Leeds at home - and that could be anything!
LATEST BETTING TO WIN THE PLAYOFFS:
SHEFF WED 5/1
A £10 stake with Ladbrokes ‘The Nation’s Favourite’ on Huddersfield and Brighton to draw 1-1 returns £60.00.
A 2-2 draw returns £150.00
Place your bets at www.ladbrokes.com