Huddersfield Town 1-0 Wednesday
The Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield
03/01/11 - 12.15pm
WEDNESDAY started 2011 with defeat against League One promotion rivals Huddersfield Town as Anthony Pilkington hit a superb first-half winner at the Galpharm Stadium.
Pilkington's long-range effort was the difference as the Owls continued to struggle against sides around them at the top of the table as the Terriers completed a league double over their Yorkshire rivals.
Both sides had good chances in an open and entertaining first-half and the Owls could well feel unfortunate to go in behind.
But a more scrappy second half suited the hosts as Wednesday failed to really trouble Town stopper Alex Smithies and Lee Clark's men continued their good home form against the Owls - who haven't won in West Yorkshire since Nigel Worthington's winner in 1984.
Owls boss Alan Irvine made three changes to the side that lost 5-1 at Exeter City last time out - a match played before Christmas.
Jon Otsemobor came in for Daniel Jones at right-back, while James O'Connor replaced Darren Potter in central midfield and Neil Mellor returned in attack, with Chris Sedgwick returning to the bench.
Town came into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw at Carlisle United on Saturday but the Owls hadn't played since before Christmas due to matches being postponed.
And the hosts looked to take full advantage of Wednesday's lack of match action as they came flying out of the traps.
Wednesday stopper Nicky Weaver had to be alert to deny Lee Novak with a fine save in the opening exchanges as Town looked for an early breakthrough.
But Wednesday rode the early storm from the hosts and carved out some chances of their own at the other end, with Mark Beevers seeing a header come crashing back off the post from a Gary Teale corner.
Pilkington forced Weaver into another good save while, as the game continued to flow from end to end, Tommy Miller glanced a header over the bar.
There was no let-up in the early pace of the game and Jermaine Johnson caused the Town defence all kinds of problems with a superb move which saw the Jamaican play a neat one-two with Morrison before fluffing his chance wide from the edge of the box.
Teale also saw a direct free-kick go straight into the arms of the impressive Smithies before Town opened the scoring.
The game always looked like it was going to provide goals, and it came in emphatic style as Pilkington was left free to unleash a superb left-footed strike which looped over Weaver and into the top corner to give the hosts the advantage in the 26th minute.
Wednesday almost produced an instant response from a Miller free-kick, but the midfielder's powerful effort was brilliantly turned over by Smithies.
The visitors will have felt they should have been on level terms going into the half-time interval when a goalmouth scramble almost saw Darren Purse get a final touch into the back of the net.
The ball fell for Mellor, who saw a close-range effort superbly saved by Smithies before the Town stopper and his defence did well to deny Purse from the rebound.
Lee Clark's men maintained their 1-0 advantage into half-time though and the Owls had a tough task to get back into the game in the second half.
Half-Time: Huddersfield 1-0 Wednesday
Wednesday made a bright start to the second half and thought they were on level terms just minutes after kick-off.
Morrison hooked a neat finish into the back of the net but was deemed offside by the assistant referee, a call which proved to be correct from the replays.
The second 45 failed to live up to the open, lively, encounter of the first half - something which suited a Town side happy with their 1-0 lead.
James O'Connor's relatively tame shot from the edge of the box failed to really trouble Smithies as the Owls struggled to carve out the same chances that had in the first 45 minutes.
The visitors were restricted to long-range efforts, Johnson again jinxing his way into a shooting position but failing to provide the killer blow as he fired well wide.
The Terriers, too, struggled for many clear-cut chances but Kevin Kilbane, making his home debut following a loan move from Hull City, came close with a powerful long-range drive in the 67th minute.
Wednesday's best chance perhaps came with 20 minutes to go but Mellor failed to find the target.
A long clearance forward by Weaver allowed Johnson to chest the ball down into the path of the striker, but Mellor struck his effort harmlessly over the bar when he should have done better.
The Owls made a double change with Daniel Jones replacing Otsemobor and Chris Sedgwick coming on for Teale, while Town introduced Alan Lee from the bench in place of Jordan Rhodes.
Paul Heffernan was then brought on with three minutes to go in place of James O'Connor, but it was too little too late for the visitors.
Morrison did have a half chance in stoppage time but he put his header over the bar to the frustration of the 4,000 travelling Wednesdayites behind the goal.
It wasn't the start Wednesday wanted to 2011 as Town climbed into the automatic promotion spots, for a few hours at least.
Full-Time: Huddersfield 1-0 Wednesday