Sheffield news Tactical bad habit explains Huddersfield Town's inability to kill games off MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Carlos Corberan's side have lost six games from winning positions this season and only won by more than a single goal four times. We went back through the footage to find out why
Breaking News ! Huddersfield Town have no problem scoring the first goal in games recently, but extending their lead is still largely proving to be beyond them. We’ve already looked in some detail at the numbers to confirm that thesis – but why is it happening? What are they actually doing differently on the pitch to cause this drop-off? We went back through the video to try and work it out. Rather than trawl through hours of footage, we narrowed it down by looking at differences in Town’s approach to defending in different game situations: the open-play goals they’ve conceded at 0-0, and the open-play goals they’ve conceded when they’ve been a goal ahead. Sign up for the Huddersfield Town newsletter Why you should sign up? We will bring you all the best and latest Huddersfield Town news and analysis direct to your inbox. We have the latest features, nostalgia and opinion as we bring you the best coverage around the Terriers. How do you sign up? It's easy and takes seconds. Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article or any article on the Huddersfield Town section of Yorkshire Live - and that's it, you're all set. You can unsubscribe at any time and your data will not be shared with any other party. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook. For full details, click here. It might seem strange to look at two sets of goals conceded; surely there’s just as much of an issue in both circumstances if it’s resulted in an opposition goal? But the difference is we know that Town are at their best in the opening periods of games: they’ve scored first 13 times and conceded first just 8 times, and have only got better as the season has gone on, scoring the first goal in seven of their last nine games. Whatever they’re doing when it’s 0-0 is generally working, then. But we also know they are at their most dysfunctional when they’re a goal ahead: they’ve seen out the game from that position five times (none of which have been after taking the lead in the first half), scored the next goal just four times, and conceded eight equalisers. They’re scoring fewer goals per minute and conceding more frequently when they’re a goal ahead than they are when the scores are level or when they’re a goal down. With the stats accounted for, we can then focus the types of goals Town are conceding in each match situation to see what we can learn – and on the evidence of the clips, one thing jumps out straight away: Town play a higher defensive at 0-0 than they do after going a goal ahead. With the scoreboard blank, the defensive line tries to hold its ground no deeper than the edge of their own third. This has led to issues when they’ve lost the ball around the halfway line and the opposition has countered quickly – they just haven’t been able to turn around quickly enough to stop the opposition counter-attack. But whether by design or unwanted habit, after going a goal ahead, that line tends to drop deeper. Lines indicate position of Huddersfield Town defensive line when opposition have possession in position indicated by circle (representing the ball). Yellow and blue lines show positioning at the time of a pass involved in the creation of goals conceded when score was 0-0; red lines show likewise for goals conceded when Town were leading by a single goal.
. This issue with this deeper defensive line is that if the opposition manage to get in behind the midfield and win a one-on-one with a defender they are almost certain to get an easy finish. In the goals we looked at Town are particularly susceptible to encountering one-on-ones around the corners of their penalty box, with the centre-backs often having to go out and cover in positions where you might normally expect a full-back (from long balls) or a central midfielder or winger (when the team is under pressure in their own half) to be available help out.
Town were caught out by opposition players running in towards or in from the corner of the box agaist Preston, Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Reading. Source: Wyscout
But as we’ve explained, for the purposes of this article we’re not actually too interested in discussing the defensive benefits and drawbacks of different approaches: we know from the numbers that Town only concede slightly more often when a goal up (every 58 minutes) than they do when the scores are level (every 64 minutes). Given that the opposition are invariably pressing forward in search of an equaliser, that’s not too surprising. What we want to know is why Town’s own goalscoring rate drops from a goal every 56 minutes at level pegging to one every 116 minutes when a goal to the good. The flipside of that opposition pressure is that there ought to be good opportunities on the counter-attack, but Town aren’t exploiting them. That deep line may be a factor in that. Two of the four goals they’ve scored to go two clear have been set pieces, leaving Pipa’s rather fortuitous effort against Millwall and Harry Toffolo’s goal against QPR as their only open play goals when a goal ahead. The first of those began with Juninho Bacuna winning the ball in midfield, while Toffolo’s started with the Terriers goalkeeper but frankly featured some of the worst opposition defending we’ve seen all season. Compare that to some of the open-play goals they’ve scored to take the lead in various games: Fraizer Campbell’s opening goal against Preston, which started with centre-back Naby Sarr heading a clearance back into the opposition half from inside the centre circle. Josh Koroma’s goal against Bristol City, which came off a Ben Hamer long ball to the right wing after a backpass from a defender on the edge of the Town third. Campbell’s goal against Middlesbrough, which came from Lewis O’Brien winning the ball on the edge of his own third and running towards goal. Koroma’s winner against Middlesbrough, which started when Toffolo made an interception on the edge of his own third and playing a quick ball forward up the left. Campbell’s opener against Watford, the result of Isaac Mbenza pressing the opposition goalkeeper. Sarr’s second against Blackburn, in which every Town player bar Ryan Schofield was in the opposition half as they re-set from a throw-in.
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Of all those goals, only the Campbell strike against Middlesbrough came with Town’s defence lined up anywhere close to the edge of the box, and that was because they’d just defended a throw-in that ended up in Schofield’s hands: O’Brien was winning the ball back from the keeper gifting the ball to the opposition on the halfway line with a poorly-aimed quick throw before the defence had had time move back out. It could be, then, that by dropping too deep after going ahead, Town are quite simply not winning the ball high enough up the pitch to do serious damage on the counter-attack – something they are much better at doing when the scores are level. Pushing that line forward is not without its risks, as the goals they’ve conceded from that position show - but they’re so much more dangerous themselves when they favour the bolder approach, and should embrace that.
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