Huddersfield Town 2 Reading 2 (9th Jan 2016)
It’s amazing how a good finish to a game can completely change perceptions. I walked away feeling I’d seen an enjoyable match, even if the first 70 minutes, before Reading’s equaliser, had felt like a slow torture of tedium and an inevitable defeat.
I’d not even planned to go to Huddersfield. Guiseley v Forest Green Rovers had been the intended destination. The Guiseley website had implied there was little doubt over the game going ahead, and the Yorkshire sunshine on the drive up had prompted no feeling of a need to double-check. Arrival at the Guiseley car park, however, presented shut turnstiles and a man saying the game had been called off an hour earlier.
With journeys to pretty much any game involving a drive through either the centre of Leeds or Bradford, Huddersfield, 20 miles but still 45 minutes away, was the only option. A Sat-Nav induced mini tour of West Yorkshire’s bigger stadiums saw us pass Valley Parade and The Odsall, having passed Elland Road on the way up, and put is with sight of Huddersfield’s “insert current name here” Stadium with about 30 minutes until kick-off, precisely the wrong time to be trying to find somewhere to park a car – especially in Huddersfield, where car park signs point you to car parks closed off with boulders, and street parking ticket machines that refuse to accept certain coins they claim to be able to.
Regardless, a 10 minute walk to the ground allowed us to arrive with about 10 minutes to spare. Weirdly, despite having twice been to their old Leeds Road ground just 200 metres north of the new place, I didn’t recognise anything other than the hill that overlooked the area.
Huddersfield’s new place is certainly one of the better new builds. While some might think that’s like being called the more attractive of The Chuckle Brothers, its curviness is distinctive, and they’d avoided the temptation to make all the stands uniform. Being able to see the hill looming over still, helps, and any new ground that still goes in for corner floodlight pylons will always win a few brownie points.
With Reading having sold our main striker a few days earlier, and having lost six in a row away from home, confidence wasn’t at an all-time high, but there was a reasonable turnout from Reading. We didn’t exactly have much to get excited about though as we let Huddersfield dominate, visiting their penalty box about as often as Johnny Vegas visits a salad bar.
Huddersfield’s shooting was mercifully limp, but eventually they’d fire a shot in that looked dangerous, heading in after 57 minutes to give them what looked a very convincing lead, what with there being no suggestion Reading would score. Newly-arrived rain teemed down from darkening skies, to really add to the gloom.
Out of the blue, with 19 minutes left, Reading did score though, with a shot from Vydra taking a deflection before landing inside the side netting.
It changed the game completely, and from looking like they wanted nothing more than to be on the bus home, the Reading team looked like they wanted to win it. With just three minutes left it looked like they had, when the otherwise largely anonymous Hal Robson-Kanu hit a low shot into the far corner.
The over-exuberant element of Reading’s spotty youth were still taunting the home fans when the game took its final twist. A clumsy and needless challenge allowed a Huddersfield player to tumble on the side edge of the box, and it was near enough for a penalty to be awarded. Nakhi Wells scored to level in the 92nd minute, and despite a late Reading flurry, that’s how it ended. It meant a replay that few probably really wanted, coming in a match I didn’t originally want to see, clinched in a manner I’d probably have least liked to have happened, but that’s the joy of football, I guess.