Report: Huddersfield Town 2 Stevenage 1
Mousinho misses late penalty in the battle of the Galpharm
Huddersfield Town 2 Stevenage 1
Npower League 1
STEVENAGE suffered penalty woe for the second successive game as they fell to defeat in a feisty encounter at the Galpharm Stadium.
After last week’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy loss at AFC Wimbledon on penalties, John Mousinho spurned a glorious opportunity to win Boro a point when he blazed his spot kick over the bar in the dying moments as Town held on for all three points.
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At the end of the game both sets of benches become embroiled in a melee after a less than gentlemanly handshake between Lee Clark and Graham Westley was followed by Dino Maamria’s refusal of a handshake with the Town boss, while in the crowd abuse from home supporters towards chairman Phil Wallace and his travelling contingent saw the police move in to calm two Terriers fans.
The game had been bubbling for some time with time wasting from both sides and some tough tackling, especially from the home side, leading to altercations between players on the pitch, but from a playing point of view Boro will be disappointed at spurning a wonderful opportunity of a point at the home of one of the top three teams in the league.
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After a tough opening half-hour for the visitors saw them on the back foot, they did eventually make their way into the game before Gary Roberts gave the hosts the lead just before the break.
Boro have made a habit of gifting the ball to opponents this season but when Chris Day kicked a free kick straight off the pitch for a throw-in midway inside the Huddersfield half nobody would have predicted that less than 10 seconds later the hosts would be ahead.
Yet the throw-in was flicked on by Alan Lee before a half-clearance from Michael Bostwick saw Huddersfield break on the left and Scott Arfield tee-up Gary Roberts to ghost in behind Phil Edwards and slot home from 18 yards.
By that time Boro had already withdrawn a dejected Stacy Long for Chris Beardsley and at half time Bostwick, already on a yellow card, made way for Jon Ashton.
The centre-back’s introduction coincided with a more assured display in the second period and they also had two opportunities within 20 seconds of the restart only for Craig Reid’s shot to be blocked by Peter Clarke before Beardsley, trying to get on to the end of a Wilson cross to the near post, was foiled by Antony Kay.
Better was to come, but Boro fluffed their lines. Reid made it onto the end of a pass into the box after Clarke had missed his clearance and one-on-one, instead of sliding the ball past the frame of Ian Bennett he opted to pull the ball back to Beardsley whose shot was blocked by Calum Woods six yards from goal.
It was a wasted opportunity from a striker who earlier this season would have put the ball away with aplomb.
Scott Laird, however, was a different proposition. Boro worked a good move through the middle with Reid laying the ball off to Mousinho, and as the midfielder bombed forward he was fully aware that he had Laird at his disposal to his left and used him, with the left-back striking home with the outside of his left boot in off the far post.
Boro now had their tails up and Westley’s men sensed that they could get more from the game, but it was the home side who scored next when substitute Anton Robinson led Charles on a merry dance on the edge of his own area and striking the foot of Day’s post before Lee Novak, unmarked six yards from goal, tapped home the rebound with 15 minutes to go.
In response Wilson headed wide as Boro pushed for a second but Huddersfield were also pressing as the game ebbed and flowed and Ashton twice had to throw his body on the line to block efforts at goal.
But then everything changed with two minutes to go when Boro were awarded a penalty after Byron Harrison had been tugged back by Kay in the box, leading to calls for the defender to be sent off.
Yet although Kay stayed on the pitch – he saw yellow – Boro still had the opportunity to snatch a point at the death but Mousinho’s penalty was poor and was fired high over the bar as the visitors spurned a glorious opportunity for a point.
There was still further controversy when Alan Lee challenged Edwards with what the defender, and manager Westley on the sidelines, thought was an elbow but once again only a yellow card was produced.
Edwards was then on the end of another robust challenge which left the versatile summer signing limping around the pitch for the final two minutes of injury time during which time Boro were unable to pierce the home defence and the Terriers held on for all three points.
Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Bennett 6; Hunt 8, Woods 7, Clarke 6, Kay 6; Arfield 5 (Robinson 63, 6), Johnson 5, Miller 6, Roberts 7 (Ward 72); Lee 6, Novak 6. Subs not used: Colgan, Naysmith, McDermott.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day 6; Henry 7, Laird 7, Bostwick 6 (Ashton 46, 7), Roberts 7; Wilson 6, Long 5 (Beardsley 37, 7), Mousinho 6, Edwards 6; Charles 6, Reid 6 (Harrison 77). Subs not used: Julian, Shroot.
Referee: Steven Rushton