Stoke battle back to hold Huddersfield

Championship promotion hopefuls Huddersfield and Stoke cancelled each other out as they drew 1-1 on Friday night.

Carlos Corberan’s men took the lead in controversial circumstances, with Josh Koroma looping the opening goal over Potters goalkeeper Jack Bonham less than 10 minutes after he avoided punishment for a reckless lunge on Taylor Harwood-Bellis.

Within seconds, Stoke were denied a penalty after a foul on Tyrese Campbell, but, after taking control of the second half, substitute Jacob Brown lashed in the deserved leveller to earn his side a share of the spoils.

Huddersfield continue to occupy the final play-off spot as a result, with Stoke six points off the pace in 10th ahead of the weekend’s action.

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Many felt Huddersfield’s Josh Koroma should have been sent off for his tackle on Stoke’s Taylor Harwood-Bellis, only for the Terriers man to put his side ahead just a few minutes later

How Stoke battled back at the John Smith’s

On the verge of matching their longest unbeaten run in a decade, it was no surprise that Huddersfield welcomed Stoke to the John Smith’s Stadium brimming with confidence. Within four minutes, Danny Ward – who scored a hat-trick in last week’s 4-3 win at Reading – had flicked a header narrowly over the bar, while Potters midfielder Jordan Thompson was booked for a foul on the lively Lewis O’Brien less than 60 seconds later.

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Were Stoke unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty following this incident in their clash with Huddersfield?

Midway through the first half came the first moment of controversy. As Harwood-Bellis and Koroma both attacked the ball, the latter recklessly caught his opponent on the knee with his studs showing, yet, after a moment of deliberation, referee Gavin Ward opted to continue, with no punishment for the Huddersfield man.

Image: Koroma catches Harwood-Bellis on the knee

Stoke were then understandably irked when the same player gave the hosts the lead soon after. Koroma collected a pass from O’Brien and hit a shot which looped into the air over the stranded Bonham and into the back of the net.

If that was not enough, the Potters were then denied a penalty when Tom Lees clumsily caught Campbell on the ankle as the frontman looked to attack a cross from the right-hand side, but, again, Ward felt no need to rule in Stoke’s favour.

Much of the second half lacked the intensity of the first, until Michael O’Neill brought on Nick Powell and Brown to freshen up the attack, which lifted the visitors. And just 15 minutes after his introduction, Brown hauled the Potters level with a thumping effort after Jaden Philogene-Bidace had crashed a shot off the left-hand post.

Image: Jacob Brown equalises for Stoke

With 83 minutes on the clock. O’Brien was also fortunate to avoid serious punishment when he made late contact with the top of Brown’s foot after the Potters’ goalscorer had released the ball. Despite the recklessness, he was shown a yellow card and nothing more.

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Should Lewis O’Brien count himself lucky to have stayed on the pitch following this tackle on Brown?

Analysis: Should Koroma have been sent off?

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Stoke were furious when Josh Koroma’s challenge on Taylor Harwood-Bellis went unpunished.

Two of Sky Sports‘ pundits had their say on referee Gavin Ward’s decision not to punish Josh Koroma for his first half-challenge on Taylor Harwood-Bellis:

Jobi McAnuff: “It was a terrible tackle. I’ve got to give some context; I do know him and it is completely out of character. I did think, when I saw it in real-time, that it was a dangerous tackle and it just gets worse the more you see it.

“The referee seems to have a really good view and I’m not quite sure how he misses it completely. Certainly from Stoke’s point of view, they can be rightly aggrieved that it wasn’t a red.”

Andy Hinchcliffe: “This is where the referee has to be strong. It is not about the injury sustained or the Stoke players having a go at him. He has got to judge the challenge on what he saw, but that is really naughty.

“That is a horrible challenge. The foot is high, he catches his man and he should be off.”

Man of the match – Jacob Brown

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Reaction from man-of-the-match Brown, who stepped off the subs’ bench to score a deserved equaliser for Stoke

Sky Sports’ Andy Hinchcliffe on Sky Sports Football:

“He was not on the pitch for long, but Brown was one of the subs that had a real influence on the game. He scored a brilliant, vital goal in a game Stoke could not afford to lose.”

What the managers said…

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Huddersfield manager Carlos Coberan says the final result was down to his team’s performance and not to do with a number of refereeing decisions within the game.

Huddersfield’s Carlos Corberan: “I think the team competed well in the first half and made a good high press, recovering the ball and creating enough chances to deserve the result. Physically, we couldn’t keep the intensity that we needed to keep being the same team that we were in the first half.

“For me, in the second half, we didn’t manage to move the ball into the offensive half to be as aggressive as we had been in the first half.”

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Stoke manager Michael O’Neill was unhappy with several of the referee’s decisions in the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield.

Stoke’s Michael O’Neill: “I think it would have been incredibly unjust for us not to take something from the game. I thought we did enough to win it. Some of the decisions that were given against us beggar belief, to be honest. I thought, in the second half, we were brilliant and had a good reaction to going behind. We played a good team tonight.

“Under no circumstances should Josh Koroma have been on the pitch. The tackle is knee-high on Taylor. It is a straight-leg tackle and how the referee can miss that, I just don’t know. It is a really, really dangerous tackle. It was a clear penalty, too. I have watched all the incidents back. Tyrese comes on the blind side of the defender, gets to the ball first, the defender gets none of the ball and the referee just waves play-on. It is just really poor refereeing, if I’m honest.”

What’s next?

Huddersfield are back in action at 7.45pm on Wednesday February 2, when they host Derby at the John Smith’s Stadium in a game live on Sky Sports Football. Stoke, meanwhile, return at 3pm on Saturday February 5, when they welcome Wigan to the bet365 Stadium in the FA Cup fourth round.

Source : Sky Sports