There was no cup upset at the John Smith’s Stadium as Huddersfield comfortably beat my Quest team Port Vale 4-0 in the third round of the FA Cup.
Backed by a decent-sized following, Vale, who themselves had swept past lower league opposition 4-0 in the last round against Hartlepool to set up this tie, never really got going.
“We were worse than Hartlepool”, commented one disgruntled punter on his way out of the ground. I wouldn’t go that far, and to be fair to Vale, they were playing a Huddersfield side sitting pretty in 4th place in the EFL Championship table.
Despite five changes from their last league outing, there was no let up in the home side’s dominance and it was only a matter of time before the goals came, with the opener coming in the 28th minute as Jack Payne arrowed a low shot in off the post.
1-0 at half time didn’t really tell the whole story, though. Town were dominant, Vale were holding on. Only Vale ‘keeper Jak Alnwick kept the scoreline respectable with some good work, but ultimately, it was precisely this good work which was to come at some cost to him personally. His acrobatics to push a downward header wide saw him collide with the post. He soldiered on until the 58th minute when his injury got the better of him and he was replaced by sub ‘keeper Miguel Santos who, in the days after this tie, left the club by mutual consent with Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite telling BBC Radio Stoke. “You saw on Saturday when he came on that his heart wasn’t really in it”. Awkward.
However, despite their misfortune in goal with the now apparently non-fussed Santos between the sticks, and with the continuous bombardment from the home side, it wasn’t until Chelsea loanee Kasey Palmer scored with a deflected speculative effort in the 73rd minute that Vale looked properly beaten and Town could afford to relax.
Two further goals followed in quick succession, one in the 80th minute when Harry Bunn was given time to cut inside and finish high into the net and then four minutes later when Payne slid in to convert a low cross for his second and Town’s 4th and final goal.
The Terriers were genuinely impressive throughout. Their one-touch pass-and-move style of play under David Wagner is, at times, a joy to watch.
They won’t be able to rely on that style too much in the next round away at Rochdale. They’ll have to dig deep and turn style into grit if they’re to emerge victorious at Spotland where Rochdale will be a difficult side to beat.
As I’m now supporting Huddersfield on my Quest my ticket has been purchased and I’m looking forward to the Lancashire versus Yorkshire match-up.
Below are some pics of the John Smith’s Stadium, a familiar haunt of mine. So familiar in fact that I decided to sit amongst the home fans for a change of scenery, despite officially following Vale for this match.