Huddersfield Town miss draw with Liverpool as Nottingham Forest win

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Tom Lees leads Huddersfield Town past Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. Photo: PA

Huddersfield Town’s equally iconic song “Smile Awhile” was also sung with pride and enthusiasm by Terriers fans in 2021-22. It’s been hard for them to wipe the smile off their faces, given the club’s glorious renaissance in a campaign to savor.

Another song adapted by Town fans is Mary Hopkin’s ditty “Those Were the Days” from the late 60s. It was a throwback to the early 1970s that Huddersfield hoped to conjure up on Monday night – they had to go back fifty years to 1972 for the last time the club reached the quarter-finals of the Cup.

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Sadly, there will be no beating the Mersey later this month with Liverpool to visit the City Ground and not John Smith’s Stadium for their Round of 16.

For once Huddersfield didn’t hit all the right notes and suffered a first defeat in 19 matches. At least they got out the front door and fought.

Forest now face Liverpool for the first time since 1999. They have seen plenty more of Huddersfield since and this may not yet be the last meeting between these two this season with both in the thick of the play-off battle of the championship. It would be an absorbing match.

Just like in the league game between these teams in Nottingham just after Christmas, there was little to divide these well-matched, well-drilled and strong teams. This time Forest prevailed.

Once again, Carlos Corberan showed his penchant for rotation and confidence in his team. He made six changes, while his counterpart Steve Cooper – despite his side having a physically demanding and intense game at Bramall Lane on Friday – resisted the urge and made just two.

It was a game of mishaps, controversy and mistakes at both ends – particularly in the first half – but it showcased the best traditions of the football cup in a gripping draw.

It was also easy to see why these two sides are enjoying such a renaissance. City laid smarts and danger on the counter, while Forest also showed off their prowess going forward.

Clearly with a taste for the goal after seeing their names come to light three days earlier, Tom Lees and Ryan Yates dreamed up a refill.

Lees, handed freedom from Nottingham, buried a header to put Town ahead in the 13th minute, Danel Sinani, who scored his first goal against Peterborough, again being the provider of another corner on the right side .

It took Lees’ tally to three goals in two matches and five for the season, matching his best return in a season.

Sadly for Huddersfield, Yates came to the party for the second time in successive games against a Yorkshire side.

After his final equalizer at Bramall Lane, the midfielder – hailed as a “diamond” by his coach – showed his aerial ability again as he latched on to James Garner’s free-kick to plant a fine header past Jamal Blackman. Replays showed Josh Ruffels playing him next.

Given Forest wrongly saw an early goal ruled out for offside against Sam Surridge, who turned in Brennan Johnson’s cross shortly before Lees struck, it was a moment of karma for the hosts .

That said, Surridge claimed his own level return in the 29th minute, earning a precision finish after Naby Sarr’s final tackle to deny Yates following a piercing play from Forest.

Town’s fluidity during the break kept them interested, with Pipa hitting the post after a deft raid, with Thomas’ follow-up collected by Ethan Horvath. It looked like a great moment in the context of the tie and it paid off with Forest soon taking the lead.

Levels dropped slightly in the second half with Thomas shooting into the side netting, while Graham Scott was on edge after Duane Holmes fell in the box under pressure from Joe Worrall.

A dangerous moment saw Horvath make a smart save at the far post to deny Danny Ward, then deny an effort at his near post from the same player with Djed Spence and Garner fending off golden chances to seal him at the other end.

Nottingham Forest: Horvarth; Worrall, Cook, McKenna; Spence, Yates, Garner, Lowe; Zinckernagel (Colback 64); Johnson, Surridge (Davis 68). Unused substitutes: Samba, Figueiredo, Laryea, Mighten, Cafu, Silva, Lolley.

Town of Huddersfield: Blackman; Pearson, Sarr (Ward 55), Lees; Pipa, Hogg, Eiting, Ruffels (Toffolo 55); Thomas, Sinani (Anjorin 79), Holmes (Rhodes 67). Unused substitutes: Nicholls, Turton, High, Rowe, Russell.

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