Macari's team in his own image

Football: Huddersfield Town 1 Stoke City 1
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The Independent Online
DAVE HADFIELD

Huddersfield Town 1 Stoke City 1

Huddersfield had hopes of climbing to second in the Endsleigh League by winning on Saturday, but all they got was what they were given and they were hardly deserving recipients.

Stoke, another side occupying a rather higher place in the division than generally expected, comprehensively outplayed Town on their little green oasis in Yorkshire's frozen wasteland, but their goalkeeper, Mark Prudhoe, will have nightmares about the way he swung and missed at a Kevin Keen back-pass to let it roll gently into his net for a fluke equaliser.

"It was a silly back-pass, a silly clearance and a silly goal," said their manager, Lou Macari, although there was a suspicion that "silly" was not exactly the description he had at the front of his mind.

Apart from that one abberation, though, Macari had much to be satisfied about. The way Stoke attack is reminiscent of his own strengths as a player; compact forwards who think and move quickly, knocking the ball around on the ground.

Even without the injured Paul Peschisolido, for most of the match, City were always too inventive for the home side and should have had more than their single goal from his impressive replacement, Simon Sturridge.

They also have a solid vein of experience running through midfield, in the likes of Keen, Ray Wallace and Nigel Gleghorn. Best of all, they have a winger with a licence to roam and raid instinctively, and Graham Potter would trouble far better defences than Huddersfield's.

They had reason to be grateful for the solidity of Kevin Gray but, ahead of him, only the former Newcastle and Blackburn midfielder, Lee Makel - still only 22 and perhaps capable of proving that they were wrong to discard him after a handful of games - caught the eye.

Makel apart, Huddersfield's approach play too often consisted of hopeful high balls punted in the general direction of their leading goal-scorer, Andy Booth.

That was not the way to capitalise on their ability to play games on their state-of-the-art pitch at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium while most of their First Division rivals were out of action. Their reward for beating the freeze but not their own limitations has been scanty: defeat at home by Derby on Boxing Day and a single point over the holidays.

As they know and, as Prudhoe would no doubt remind them, that was one point more than they deserved.

Goals: Sheron (48) 0-1; Prudhoe (og 73) 1-1.

Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Francis; Dyson (Turner, 57), Sinnott, Gray, Cowan; Jenkins, Makel, Collins, Dalton (Rowe, 61); Jepson, Booth. Substitute not used: Dunn.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Prudhoe; Clarkson, Cranson, Sigurdsson, Sandford; Keen, Wallace, Gleghorn, Potter; Peschisolido (Sturridge, 16), Sheron (Carruthers, 67). Substitute not used: Dreyer.

Referee: I Cruikshanks (Hartlepool).

Man of the match: Potter.

Attendance: 15,071.

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