Match Reports

So near and yet so far!

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Town can travel back north up the M1 with heads held high after a performance and result that not only many Premiership teams, but also possibly the cream of European football will struggle to match this season at Chelsea this afternoon.

Indeed, 2 minutes in and Gary Taylor-Fletcher had a golden opportunity with the game?s first shot to put Town into a shock lead. Unfortunately the shot was mistimed and failed to trouble either Cudicini or the bookmakers, some of whom had been offering a generous 33/1 on a Town victory at ?the Bridge?.

Chelsea then began to settle down a little and wasn?t too long before the Town defence found themselves on the back foot for prolonged periods trying to fend off the fluent and prolific Chelsea attack.

With 12 minutes on the clock, the inevitable happened. Nathan Clarke, Martin McIntosh and Phil Senior all waited for each other to clear the danger as Carlton Cole managed to get in 2 successive headers. The second one being unchallenged by anyone in a white shirt and ending up nestling in the back of the net.

The home crowd then settled back down to await the expected goal-fest but the fact that it never arrived was, in fairness, down to some poor finishing and bad luck on Chelsea?s part rather than Town?s dominance at the back, in the first half at any rate.

Carlton Cole was the guilty party on the half hour. His header from a Shaun Wright-Phillips nod across goal was turned superbly for a corner by Phil Senior in goal. Then Robert Huth managed to hit the crossbar from yet another Damien Duff corner when it looked easier to score.

Next it was Shaun Wright-Phillips? turn on the stroke of half time to set the massive travelling support?s hearts a-flutter, but he could only shoot wide of the post when clean through on goal.

Half-time 1-0

The second half started in much the same vein as the first had ended, with Chelsea putting the over-worked Town defence on the back foot yet again. Carlton Cole missing the first chance of the half by heading a Wright-Phillips right-wing cross over the bar.

However, Chelsea?s momentum slowly began to falter as the half wore on and Town started to impose themselves a little more in midfield. The home crowd began to get a little frustrated as Chelsea?s millionaires were obviously struggling to make their class tell on a stubborn Town rearguard.

But if the home supporters were frustrated for the most part in the second half, this was nothing to what they must have felt on 75 minutes. Michael Collins, who had come on as sub in the 63rd minute for Danny Schofield, threaded a ball between the Chelsea defenders for GTF wide on the right hand side of the penalty area. He took one touch, then as cool as you like, slipped it past Cudicini into the net. Although Cudicini maybe should have got a better touch on it, he could not prevent it registering Town?s equaliser!

Cue pandemonium in the massed stands behind Cudicini?s goal. The magnificently noisy 6500+ travelling fans could now sense that one of the all-time biggest cup shocks ever, was on – and for seven glorious minutes who could have doubted it?

However, this is real-life and unfortunately for Town and their long-suffering supporters, not a fairytale. The hitherto magnificent defence cracked again one final and crucial time. A surging Arjen Robben sprint down Chelsea?s left wing saw him cut back the ball from the byline to an unmarked Eidur Gudjohnsen and his slightly mis-hit shot crept just out of his reach and inside Phil Senior?s right hand post for the winner.

Probably a fair result at the end of the day, but nevertheless heartbreaking.

Every single one of the warriors in white shirts were a credit to the name and the glorious history of Huddersfield Town Football Club and they should all be congratulated on their epic efforts against a team that no doubt will have many an easier game than this one, this season.

Back to reality at Scunthorpe on Tuesday night!

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