Huddersfield League Cup Semi-Final


18th March 2012

Report by Brian Hobson

Three quality finishes proved to be the difference in a game Ossett dominated in terms of possession but were unable to convert territorial advantage into goals

On a lovely sunny afternoon on neutral territory at Leeds Road, Town had every reason to be confident, despite facing a side a division higher than them, after beating another Division 1 side earlier in the competition. The opening exchanges were even though, with both sides showing signs of nerves.

Town had the first shot, Macaulay Parkinson firing over, but it took a good Ryan White challenge to prevent Hepworth getting through. Hepworth then had a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals waved away, but that might then have had something to do with the ref ignoring what appeared to be clear penalty for Town when Cameron Walsh had his heels clipped and was sent sprawling.

A fine Tom Hobson pass sent Mo Sidat away, but after beating the defender his shot flashed across the face of goal. Ossett then had to reorganise, with the unwell Ant Hutchinson being replaced by Anees Bashir with Mo Sidat moving to a wide role.

Midway through the half Tom Rogers had his first save to make, fielding a shot comfortably, but this was the signal for Ossett to have a good spell of pressure. Cameron Walsh nearly got on the end of Anees Bashir’s good cross after an excellent Macaulay Parkinson pass, then a fine Cameron Walsh and Anees Bashir link-up down the right ended with the keeper just beating Ryan White to the ball.

Town had the bit between their teeth now, and Mo Sidat had a shot blocked after Macaulay Parkinson’s free-kick ran through to him. From the resulting corner Mo then blasted over.

Hepworth came back into it though – up to now their only threat had been from a long ball over the top, but they had a goal disallowed for a close offside decision, then had a good shot go just wide.

An ankle injury to Macaulay Parkinson meant another reorganisation for Town with Josh Beaumont slotting into midfield along with Mo Sidat, with Anees Bashir moving out wide and Sam Pashley dropping back into defence in a 4-5-1 formation. Soon after, Hepworth made the breakthrough when a corner was cleared to their player on the edge of the box and he hit an excellent lobbed shot into the net.

Ossett came close to an instant equaliser when Cameron Walsh’s terrific pass found Alex Hall making an excellent run down the left only for him to fire wide. At the other end only a well-timed Sam Pashley challenge prevented Hepworth having a clear chance for a 2nd.

Town had done reasonably well in the first half and could count themselves unlucky to be behind in a half of few clear-cut chances. Jaz Ahmed came on on the left wing and Ant Hutchinson returned on the right, as Town came out of the starting blocks for the 2nd half with much greater determination.

Ant Hutchinson made 3 excellent runs down the right, but none of them led to a clear chance as Hepworth defended well and the keeper saved one cross very well. Town were now starting to pass the ball much better and showing their quality, with Josh Beaumont instrumental in the moves. They nearly grabbed a deserved equaliser when Cameron Walsh tried to chip the keeper after Ryan White’s neat lay-off only for the keeper to just manage to grab it.

As this reporter was writing down that midway through the 2nd period Hepworth had barely managed to get into Town’s half since the break, they did just that twice in a minute and effectively killed the game. First from a long ball, then a pass, both times excellent chips over the helpless keeper Tom Rogers.

Ossett threw caution to the wind and gambled on a 3-4-3 formation with Sam Pashley up front, and nearly got back into it when Mo Sidat fired just wide following Cameron Walsh’s excellent cross. Town then probably knew it wasn’t going to be their day when Cameron Walsh’s dangerous corner was cleared off the line and Josh Beaumont’s follow-up shot was also blocked on the line.

Town were now on top, but Hepworth exploited the gaps in the Town rearguard and in truth could just as easily have added to the score as Town in an open last 10 minutes. Hepworth hit the post with a diving header, Cameron Walsh had a good shot well saved, but only great tackles by Waqas Awad and Ant Hutchinson stopped Hepworth making it 4.

It’s a pity we don’t get to see stats of games like this as we do on the Premier League, as they would surely have shown Ossett had more possession, more territorial advantage, more chances and more shots than their opponents. However it is a cruel lesson in such an important match that there’s only one stat that really matters at the end of the game, and that’s the scoreline. Hepworth could not claim to have been better than Town in any department except finishing today, but they showed their quality where it mattered most and good luck to them in the final.

Once Ossett have licked their wounds, they will realise that reaching the last 4 in a cup involving 50-odd teams is a fantastic achievement and every player should feel proud of the part they have played. Town only rarely managed to get the ball down and pass it the way they can, and the key lesson to learn is that top players produce their best form when it matters most. Now back to league action, and let’s see how high we can finish!