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Match Report


Posted Sat 12 May 12 at 14:27 PM


Huddersfield Town carry a two-goal advantage to their Galpharm Stadium on Tuesday night after beating MK Dons 2-0 in the npower League 1 play-off semi-final first leg.

The Terriers took the lead through their goal machine striker Jordan Rhodes, whose 32nd minute header took his personal tally to 39 for the season, and were able to tighten their grip on the game when Jack Hunt provided a fine finish midway through the second half.

The Dons had enough possession and dominance in the game to have narrowed the gap only for a lack of cutting edge to prove their downfall at stadiummk.

While the Dons may not be the underdogs they will make the journey to Yorkshire with no pressure on their shoulders and will thrive on the occasion with there still at least 90 minutes of the tie to play.

With Gary MacKenzie back from illness to take the place of Tom Flanagan, the Dons' defence was at strength to help combat the constant threat of Jordan Rhodes and Lee Novak up front.

There was also a huge boost for the Dons as Mathias Kouo-Doumbe returned to the bench after a spell out on the sidelines with a groin injury.

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Play-off fever was in the air as the game kicked off to a wall of noise and there was a sprightly energy from both teams in the opening stages. The Dons and Huddersfield showed the intent they had shown all season with only attacking play at the forefront of the tactics.

It was the home side who enjoyed the best share of possession as they moved the ball around the pitch at a great tempo. When Stephen Gleeson the talented midfielder spotted the run of Alan Smith, playing in a more advanced position alongside Charlie MacDonald, and played a great diagonal ball to him, but after the former Leeds striker controlled with his shot he could not prevent his volley from rising over.

After coping with the early wave of attack from the Dons, the Terriers showed the threat they carry on the counterattack when Callum Woods slipped the ball into the box, yet the lethal Rhodes couldn't get a touch on it to beat David Martin.

As expected, it was an absorbing encounter that brought chances at both ends. When MacDonald got to the byline his cutback went beyond Smith, but it was Powell whose miscued effort saw a chance go begging.

And yet, in the blink of an eye it was the Terriers who were back on the attack through Rhodes who brought Arfield into action to deliver a cross into Lee Novak whose shot was cleared on the line.

Smith looked hungry and determined to make an impression in his starring role up front and when he got the better of Peter Clarke, the Terriers skipper was forced to foul the forward which resulted in a booking and a free-kick for the Dons but little came from Dean Bowditch's set-piece.

Unsurprisingly, the pace dropped slightly after a frantic opening half an hour. Huddersfield were also dealt a blow when an injury to Scott Arfield forced Simon Grayson's first substitution of the game, the bad news for the Dons was it meant an introduction for another attacking player in the form of Kallum Higginbotham.

When Huddersfield turned on their attacking prowess they looked dangerous, a break down the right caused chaos for the Dons but big Scotsman MacKenzie made a superb block to deny Higginbotham. However, the Dons failed to notice the threat had continued as they allowed Novak send a cross in from the left of the box which Rhodes, the highest scoring player in English football, glances his header into the bottom corner.

It brought an explosion of noise from the travelling Huddersfield contingency and forced the Dons to once again up the tempo. Which they did as Powell bulldozed his way through the defence, but his cutback hit Smith in the chest and was knocked wide.

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Although a goal down, there was little for the Dons to be disappointed with from the first half with the only difference between the sides Rhodes' effort.

The second-half started with a superb chance for the Dons when a Shaun Williams free-kick fell straight at Lewington, almost taking the Dons captain by surprise he stuttered before firing a shot goal-bound which was blocked on the line.

A fine through ball from Gleeson then allowed Bowditch to ghost into the box, but the Terriers defence were quick to recover and when Powell picked up the loose ball his shot from a tight-angle was turned out for a corner by Ian Bennett.

The Dons kept applying the pressure to the Terriers, yet they lacked the edge they needed to get beyond a tough back line. When Bowditch's corner failed to be cleared Williams had a chance to re-deliver the ball, this time from the right and Darren Potter was able to nod the ball into the box.

MacKenzie, with his back to goal, tried his best to turn an awkward header past Bennett, yet it proved to be an easy save for the Town 'keeper in the end.

Once the hour-mark Karl Robinson opted to bring off Smith and introduce fresh legs in the form of Jay O'Shea who made a bright start by cutting inside from the left before drilling a shot wide of the post.

The second half pressure had been one-way traffic from the Dons but by committing men forward they were left exposed at the back, and when Novak beat the offside trap it seemed a certain second was on its way for Huddersfield.

However, Novak's nerves got the better of him as he turned his low shot wide of the post.

While the Dons had been on top there was always a possibility the Terriers would threaten. When Rhodes found room down the Dons' left he unselfishly spotted the movements of Hunt in the box and sprayed the ball to his feet a yard into the box.

The Huddersfield right-back turned beyond Potter before digging out a fierce low drive which nestled into the bottom corner of Martin's net to double the visitors' lead.

Again, it meant the Dons had to force their forward play with more urgency. There was however, an interruption when Peter Clarke, defending a Dons corner after an O'Shea shot was blocked, stayed on the ground for some time and was promptly treated by the medics. The Terriers support raised a loud cheer when their skipper walked off before rejoining the action.

As a result it meant seven minutes of injury time were played, but the Dons could not make an impact on the score line. Chicksen had one last throw of the dice with an excellent cross from out wide and only the fingertips of Bennett denied substitute Jabo Ibehre.However, with the semi-final currently at half-time they have enough time to turn the tie on its head.

MK Dons: Martin; Chicksen, Williams, MacKenzie, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Smith (O'Shea 60), Bowditch; MacDonald (Ibehre 76).

Subs: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Kouo-Doumbe.

Booked: Chicksen

Huddersfield: Bennett; Hunt, Morrison, Clarke (c), Woods (T Clarke 51); Arfield (Higginbotham 27), Johnson, Miller, Ward; Novak, Rhodes (Lee 85).

Subs: Smithies, Robinson.

Booked: Clarke, Miller

Goals: Rhodes 32, Hunt 73

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)

Attendance: 11,893 (3,481 away)

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