Bruce's battling Terriers are top dogs

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The Independent Online

Huddersfield Town regained the leadership of the First Division after a game in which their dominance was not reflected in the scoreline and they will have to convert their effective approach work into goals more consistently if their promotion drive is to be maintained.

Huddersfield Town regained the leadership of the First Division after a game in which their dominance was not reflected in the scoreline and they will have to convert their effective approach work into goals more consistently if their promotion drive is to be maintained.

The Terriers began with the incentive of knowing that victory would make them top dogs again, but the disadvantage of being without two key players, injured in their controversial midweek Worthington Cup defeat by Wimbledon.

Their manager, Steve Bruce, brought in Scott Sellars for Cliff Beech whose goal a week earlier had given them victory over Manchester City, and Craig Armstrong came in for the experienced defender Ken Monkou, who may be absent for up to eight weeks. But Bruce's injury problems were insignificant compared with those of his opposite number, Gerry Francis, who was without the defenders Danny Maddix, Karl Ready, Steve Yates and Richard Ord.

Not surprisingly, Rangers' makeshift rearguard had trouble coping with the mobility of Town's lively strikers Clyde Wijnhard and Marcus Stewart, and the pace and incisive crosses of Ben Thornley and Dean Gorre on the flanks.

The QPR goalkeeper Lee Harper's goal was under siege from the start, and he did well to punch the ball away with Stewart bearing down on him and again from a Thornley cross. But he could deflect the ball only as far as Gorre, whose shot was charged down to Stewart, but he curved his effort wide.

The game was nearly half-an- hour old before Huddersfield's goalkeeper Nico Vaesen was called upon, and then only when a clearance ricocheted back to him from Stuart Wardley. But it offered no respite for Rangers. Wijnhard should have put Town ahead when Jamie Vincent's long ball beat the Rangers' offside trap, but he took too long and the ball was scrambled away for a corner.

He was to redeem himself almost at once when Thornley floated in a free-kick from the left and the Dutch striker rose to head beyond Harper, although the ball seemed to take a deflection off the head of Matthew Rose.

Huddersfield proceeded to carve out enough openings to have the game sewn up before the interval, but could convert none of them. Stewart stabbed the ball over when in plenty of space, had the ball whipped off his toes when only feet from the goal-line, and drove the ball wide after Kenny Irons' shot had been charged down.

They were almost made to pay for their profligacy when Paul Murray found Rob Steiner with a beautiful through ball and, although the striker got his toe to it, he could only guide it wide of a post.

Harper continued to be the busier keeper, clinging on to a fierce shot from Kevin Gray, who had burst through from midfield, and getting his body behind Wijnhard's drive after his defenders again found themselves caught square.

Wijnhard's ability to shield the ball and hold it up until reinforcements arrive allowed Huddersfield to maintain their pressure after the break, but the final touch continued to elude them. Thornley made an impressive run across the edge of the penalty area to set up Vincent, but the defender opted to try for power and glory rather than accuracy, and his shot from 12 yards ended up closer to the corner flag than the goal.

Rangers escaped twice more in the space of a minute when Harper deflected Wijnhard's shot for a corner, from which Gray's header almost sneaked in.

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