Huddersfield Await

Last season, the two fixtures Notts County faced against Huddersfield were amongst the worst performances of the campaign.

Opening the season at Meadow Lane with a 3-0 hammering, before later visiting the Galpharm for defeat of the same scoreline – after seeing Notts in those games no one would have been surprised to seee the struggle County found themselves in on the final day.

Helmed by Craig Short and Paul Ince respectively, the side from Meadow Lane never got going in either fixture.

After a promising pre-season on the back of blitzing League Two, that reversal in Short’s first game gave a blunt indication of where the season was headed.

For Ince meanwhile in front of the Sky cameras, it was his fourth straight defeat – he was to be afforded just the one more before being removed from the manager’s seat.

Notts County this weekend though travel to the Galpharm rejuvenated, a completely different side to that which was so easily brushed aside on those two occasions last season.

With that said, so to are Huddersfield. Again finding themselves second in the table as they were for our last encounter, they’ve not lost a League One fixture in 42 games which equals a record set by our neighbours Forest some decades ago. Avoiding defeat on Saturday puts them in the record books by themselves.

Of course, we’re supposed to ignore a play-off final defeat to Peterborough in the middle of that run, but more on that shortly.

The Terriers’ Jordan Rhodes already has 11 goals this season, and is coming off a goal in midweek for the Scotland u-21’s against Holland. The proverbial thorn in anyone’s side also netted twice against us last season.

Notts don’t have the best record this season against the bigger clubs, the ones you’d expect to see fighting for the top spots. Defeats away to Sheffield Wednesday, Preston and MK Dons will have little baring on this fixture, but they might play on the minds of the players and supporters so eager to see a result on Saturday.

I spoke with Sean Makin of top Huddersfield site Terrier-Bytes to get some thoughts on the game.

Looking back at last season, Huddersfield stand out to me as by far the best side we played in League One. I imagine you must surely look back at us as one of the worst you’d played?

I think it would be disrespectful to single out a team as the worst we had played last season but a few teams said last season we were the best team they had played.

On one hand it was incredibly unlucky that we didn’t go up automatic as the points we accumulated would have been enough for automatic promotion for the last 11 seasons but on the other we drew a lot of games to teams below us in the league and no disrespect to them we should have beaten. If we had turned them draws into wins I really do think we’d have won the league.

The lottery of the play-offs didn’t fall in our favour and in the most important match of the season (the play-off final) we just crumbled and eight minutes of madness cost us dear.

What were your memories of those two landslide victories last year?

Both games against County, from what I remember, were both comfortable wins.

In the first game at Meadow Lane I remember thinking our defence would have no trouble against strikers who had zero pace in both Lee Hughes (who may I add is not liked by Town fans) and Ben Burgess. Anthony Pilkington and Joey Gudjonsson ran the midfield and Joe Garner had one of two decent performances out of 16 games before returning quietly to Forest without pulling up any tree whilst on loan here (no pun intended).

At the return fixture Benik Afobe had an immense game and set up all three goals in a 3-0 win.

Personally I thought despite our struggle that League One was very poor last year – it seems a lot stronger this year though. Has it surprised you to see Notts fighting for a playoff spot this year?

I didn’t think League One last season had been as strong as previous years but still a tough league all the same.

Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are rejuvenated this season, Preston and Sheffield United are both big teams too and obviously we are hovering near the top plus MK Dons are a decent side so it is a strong league this season.

It doesn’t surprise me about County being where they are in the league Martin Allen knows this league well and you’re always in for a tough afternoon playing his teams.

Much had been made of Jordan Rhodes’ form in recent weeks. Having scored in midweek for the Scotland u21’s do you think clubs might come knocking in January for his services?

The lad is on fire at the moment. Scored again for the Scotland U21’s on Monday night after just 59 seconds and clubs such as Manchester United, Newcastle United, Celtic and Fulham are sniffing aroud. The chairman has said we won’t sell and the manager has said with the latest rumour of a £2 million bid “won’t buy his socks”. I think the big boys will inquire come January.

Similarly, you must have been delighted to hold on to Lee Clarke after Leicester were sniffing around him recently?

Yes I think the whole town is delighted Lee Clark is staying according to the media and the bookies he was dead cert to leave us for Leicester. After his post-match interview against Yeovil Town I even though that he could be off but after much media speculation he came out to say he was committed to Huddersfield Town.

Much has been made of your unbeaten run despite the quite obvious flaw. Is it something you try to get away from or are you excited for Saturday and the chance to make the record your own?

I’d rather ditch the unbeaten record for promotion and I’m sure 99% of Town fans would say the same.

Bradford fans have been quick to point out about the “flaws” of our unbeaten run but its just jealousy from their end as they have to realise they’ve gone from Premier League to starring Blue Square Premier in the face in 10 years. They got their day out when they beat us on penalties in the tin pot trophy.

We’ll let them have their moment but this time next season we could be three leagues apart.

I’ll stand by my story that a league season is 46 matches it doesn’t include the play-offs and it would be nice to be in the history books but like I say i’d happily sacrifice it for promotion.

I was told by the people on the Huddersfield Town Twitter that Martin Allen always gives you a tough game. What experiences have you had with him, and how do you see him approaching Saturday’s game?

We’ve met a few times with Martin Allen when he was at Brentford and MK Dons.

His Brentford team was physical and always up for the fight but they had pace in the team to punish opponents. His antics on the touchline are a sight to see and it seemed he wasn’t afraid to annoy the fans behind the dugouts.

He was once linked with the Town job a few years ago after Andy Ritchie got the sack, as far as I’m aware he was interviewed for the post and had been photographed at one game in the stands watching a match. Apprently from what emerged during the interview he had said that he would leave the club if a team from down south came calling for him and that pretty much ended his chances of becoming our manager.

It’s hard to argue with any of what Sean says really about those games last season. Certainly in the first game, Hughes and Burgess weren’t given a sniff all afternoon long, and we’ve all seen plenty of what he remembers in Martin Allen – we know that will never change.

And you can’t begrudge anyone a parting shot at a massive, massive club like Bradford!

You can quite easily see this being an equivalent to last year’s fixture at Peterborough United – Notts being seen as lambs to the slaughter, but with the Dog in charge I can see the heavy deployment of spoiler tactics like those seen at London Road. Sure, Notts won’t be making any friends along the way but that’s just how we like it recently.

At the same time, the recent 4-2 breakdown at Colchester United shows we still have the tendency to buckle – so even another 3-0 isn’t out of the question.

Martin Allen suggests Lee Hughes won’t be fit to return for the game, but we’ve all heard this enough this season already, so who knows whether he’ll play or not- but on Sean’s comments above about how easily the home side deal with teams with a lack of pace you’d maybe hope he doesn’t start!

This fixture could be make or break for Notts’ season, a clear indication of things to come.

A win or even a draw and you have to believe even more that a playoff spot isn’t too far a stretch at all. Either way this won’t be easy, Huddersfield are a professional outfit who won’t be nervous in the slightest about their place in the history books beckoning – three points is all they’ll have on their mind tomorrow in a game they’ll back themselves heavily to win.

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