Football: Allison keeps the ball rolling

Huddersfield Town 1 Sheffield United 0
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The Independent Online
Huddersfield Town 1 Sheffield United 0

IT HAS been quite a start for the Huddersfield manager Peter Jackson. Before he took over last season, the Terriers were the First Division's bottom dogs. Christmas cards were on the mantelpiece before their points tally reached double figures and they were giving Yorkshire neighbours Doncaster a run for their money as the Football League's hottest relegation favourites.

Then along came Jackson to start a transformation which shows every sign of continuing this season. Double figures have been achieved in the first week of September and his side sit proudly in a play-off spot.

Early days, of course, and not something to get carried away by in a town whose older inhabitants can still remember their team winning the League Championship three years on the trot, but quite a start for a tyro manager.

Town owe their success this season to a solid defence and the striking partnership of Marcus Stewart and Wayne Allison, who have now scored nine goals between them. Not that this was obvious until Allison scored two minutes from time with a shot off the underside of the crossbar.

Until then, his propensity for getting underneath the ball had seen two decent chances end up in Row Z of the stand, while Stewart's tendency was to steer his opportunities wide.

"They are a double act," Jackson said. "Stewart gets most of the praise, but Allison takes a lot of stick and creates chances for him, so it is nice to see him getting on the score sheet."

Steve Bruce's introduction to management has been less happy. Having discovered, as most Blades managers do, that Bramall Lane is not paved with gold, he is now struggling to live up to great expectations with a squad short of the strength in depth required to reach the play-offs for the third successive year.

They battled manfully in a scrappy match but the nearest they came to depriving Huddersfield goalkeeper Nico Vaesen of his first clean sheet was an audacious Bobby Ford chip from the half-way line that skimmed the crossbar.

Bruce was unhappy at having to play this match when international commitments (Dean Saunders and Vas Borbokis) added insult to a lengthy injury list. "If Huddersfield had been deprived of their two best players, they would have wanted it postponed too," he said.

That is debatable. Jackson's sixth-placed side are on a roll he may not want to interrupt even if his squad ran to the luxury of international players.

Goal: Allison (88) 1-0.

Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Vaesen; Jenkins, Collins, Morrison, (Gray, h-t), Edwards; Richardson (Dalton, 66), Horne, Johnson, Thornley; Stewart, Allison. Substitute not used: Barnes.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Tracey; Wilder, Sandford, Holdsworth (Marker, 40), Quinn; Stuart, Ford, Hunt, Woodhouse (Marcello, 78); Devlin, Taylor. Substitute not used: Dellas.

Referee: K Lynch (Kirk Hammerton).

Bookings: Sheffield United: Stuart, Wilder.

Man of the match: Stewart.

Attendance: 12,192.