Clayton Stops The Rot For Terriers
John Smith's Stadium
8 February 2014; 15:00
Adam Clayton scored with just 5 minutes of the game remaining to claim a vital 3 points for Huddersfield Town.
The bearded midfielder picked up the ball from outside the area and on the angle fired home from distance to beat Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal just as it appeared both sides had looked to be playing out a goalless draw.
Huddersfield had made 4 changes to the starting line-up, after being unchanged for the last two matches. Joel Lynch returned at the back with Murray Wallace dropping out of the squad completely.
James Vaughan took Danny Ward's place who dropped to the bench. Jonathan Hogg also returned at the expense of Oscar Gobern who was like Wallace dropped from the matchday squad.
The final change saw Adam Hammill return in place of Calum Woods, who found himself on the bench and could perhaps count himself the unlucky one in the changes made, but Hammill is a key player for Town.
Wigan were giving a debut to Martin Waghorn up-front and also made 4 changes to their team for the match with Marc-Antoine Fortune recalled up-front & recalls for Stephen Crainey & Jordi Gomez. Wigan leading scorer Nick Powell missed out through injury.
Huddersfield started the match brightly with the recalled Adam Hammill causing Leon Barnett problems, an early cross inside the first few minutes just narrowly evaded the stretching James Vaughan, and you got the sense Town were going to be at it.
Oliver Norwood was next to step up and try his luck but a drilled effort from one of many Hammill corners of the game was blocked in the blustery swirling wind inside the stadium.
Wigan were assisted with the wind at their backs in the first half winning a plethora of corners, from which Town defended resolutely, the returning Lynch adding some additional experience to a Town back-line which was breached 5 times in their last outing at Leeds.
Vaughan had the next effort for Town, again from a corner, but his header was blocked. Vaughan wouldn't have to wait long for his next opportunity but he skied it over the bar and into the travelling Wigan fans.
Oliver Norwood was then presented with a free-kick opportunity from 30 yards, after Dixon was felled by Waghorn, Norwood took the strike on and Al-Habsi could only push the ball away as Town kept coming forward.
It was to be the last action of note in a first half where Town had looked bright but again were just lacking the killer instinct in-front of Goal, Nahki Wells notably a quiet spectator for much of the first half.
Wigan came out and started the second-half far the brighter side as it looked like it was going to be a case of Déjà vu for Town fans; as Wigan attacked at ease through Town's now non-existent midfield.
Wigan forced numerous corners in the early exchanges as they pinned Town back for long spells, they couldn't however find a way past the Town defence and when they did get in on goal they were struggling to test Smithies with their efforts continuously off-target.
Mark Robins decided just past the hour mark to make a change, with Danny Ward coming on to replace Nahki Wells
Ward made an instant impact in the game as he was played in with just Al-Habsi to beat from a tight angle, he delayed his effort too long though and instead came out with a corner, but that action seemed to spark Town back to life.
Ward then saw another effort, from a Norwood cross, run just wide before Norwood tested Al-Habsi from distance with a wicked dipping strike that was millimetres over the Wigan keepers bar.
It was shooting practice for Norwood who after his two earlier efforts, stepped up to take a freekick on 80 minutes from fully 40 yards. Norwood's near perfect strike hit the angle of post & crossbar with Al-Habsi beaten, the Wigan keeper somewhat fortuitous to see the ball land in his hands as he crashed to the floor.
Then just as everyone was settling for a 0-0, Clayton stepped up to steal the show with a strike from distance of his own.
It was more than deserved from Town who had piled the pressure on Wigan after soaking up all their visitors could throw at them.
Wigan knew that it was all or nothing as they brought on Nicky Maynard for the final few minutes, but Town were intent on retaining what would prove to be a vital 3 points.
Huddersfield kept the ball in the corners with James Vaughan and saw out the final moments & stoppage time with relative ease.
Smithies; Lynch, Gerrard, Smith; Dixon, Hammill; Norwood, Hogg, Clayton; Wells (Ward,61), Vaughan.
Bennett, Woods, Clarke, Scannell, Southern, Lolley.
Al Habsi, Crainey, Boyce, Perch, Barnett; Watson, Gomez (McCann 82), McArthur (Maynard 88), Beausejour, Waghorn (McManaman 71), Antoine-Fortune.
Nicholls, McEachran, McClean, Espinoza.
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