Huddersfield Town vs Rochdale

Competition: Carabao Cup Round 1

Date: 05/09/2020

Score: 0-1

Ground: John Smith Stadium

A difficult start in the home dugout for new Town head coach Carlos Corberán, with Huddersfield losing 1-0 at home although technically an away fixture to league 1 side Rochdale. After an uneventful first half in which Town looked very comfortable, Rochdale emerged strongest after the restart with Eoghan O'Connell powering home a Matt Done free kick 6 minutes after the restart. Town did try to get back into the game with Isaac Mbenza coming closest in the 90th minute, but this was merely too little to late for town who slump to their 4th first round exit in 5 seasons.
Town's next game is matchday 1 in the EFL Championship next Saturday (12/09/2020) against Norwich City.

5 Conclusions from the Game

1. The young players are good

While it is clear to see that this was a poor overall performance from Town, considering three 'Young Terriers' made their first team debuts for Town today (with Aaron Rowe also starting), it shows to me that Town's decision to close the academy was the right one. Romoney Crichlow was someone that stood out for me, his composure on the ball is something that I would have expected from only a more experienced centre back. I also thought Aaron Rowe really grew into the game and laid down a claim to that RB position, although he was not defensively challenged that often he still snuffed out any opportunities for Rochdale. Ben Jackson also impressed me. He can really pass a ball and should have had an assist when Juninho Bacuna blasted the ball over the ball inside the box. I think he played better when moved to LB in the second half rather than when he started in midfield. Josh Austerfield also looked composed when he came on with 11 minutes left.
Importantly for Town this highlights the decision to move to a B team which should smooth the transition for other players to join up with the first team as they become more accustom to playing senior games and the travelling involved.

2. Interesting Tactics

The Terriers under previous leadership could be criticised for only deploying one tactic in a match with many substitutions being only changes in personnel and not tactical, but it was good today for Carlos to take off a centre back and replace him with a winger, something not seen too often in West Yorkshire. Town played a 433 today with two Inverted Full Backs - The job of an inverted full back is to underlap the winger and push up into midfield and provide support as secondary central midfielders. This was seen many times today with Aaron Rowe bursting to the edge of the Rochdale box and pressing possession. Defensively Town were solid other than the Set Piece, it is just the same old issue of getting the ball into the box for goalscoring opportunities.

3. set pieces, Set Pieces, SET PIECES!

When you finish a season having conceded around 15 more goals from set pieces than you scored, then it comes as no surprise that the first goal you concede is to a set piece. Defensively I think we were set up well which allowed us to restrict Rochdale to 1 shot on target and 4 shots overall but that doesn't excuse the way we set up for that free kick. Schindler was beaten way too easily with Ben Hamer being caught flat footed and unable to stop the goal.
The stat I find most damaging is that 3 out the last 4 goal conceded in a competitive game at the JSS have come from set pieces!

4. The future of certain players

With Karlan Grant, Steve Mounie and Ramadan Sobhi missing without being injured it seems that Town will be losing them in the near future. As it stands the involvement of Adama Diakhaby and Isaac Mbenza points towards two of Town's most expensive assets staying this season and trying to establish themselves in the team.

5. Players will leave before we sign anyone

It is not a secret that Steve Mounie is set to sign for AS Saint-Étienne, Karlan Grant is set to be sold for a club record fee in the region of £18-20 million to West Brom, with Ramadan Sobhi set to leave for Pyramids FC for $5 million and Hadergjonaj set to leave as well. This should create some space in the wage bill for town to sign some players, reports in Spain suggest Town are 'here we go' with Spanish Full Back/ Right Winger 'Pipa'. The player had his medical in Barcelona on Friday after he played for Spain's u21s on Thursday night. Once these deals have all been completed, Town will look to strengthen the squad but seem to have held off signing anyone to protect the already high wage bill.

Town Team:

Starting 11: Ben Hamer, Aaron Rowe, Christopher Schindler (60' Diakhaby), Romoney Crichlow, Harry Toffolo, Jonathon Hogg (69' Mbenza), Ben Jackson, Alex Pritchard, Josh Koroma, Danny Ward (79' Austerfield), Juninho Bacuna
Subs: Joel Pereira, Adama Diakhaby, Richard Steerman, Isaac Mbenza, Jaden Brown, Josh Austerfield, Mustapha Olagunju
Formation: 433

Match Statistics

Town: Rochdale
Possession %: 59 41
Total Shots: 16 4
On Target: 5 1
Tackles: 11 15
Pass Accuracy %: 87 77
Fouls: 11 6
Yellow Cards: - -
Red Cards: - -