Match report: Huddersfield 0 Doncaster Rovers 0

Chris Brown and Bongani Khumalo up for a corner
Chris Brown and Bongani Khumalo up for a corner

A thrilling, albeit goalless, Yorkshire derby may have been witnessed but plenty of talk after the game involved what was going on in the stands.

Federico Macheda watched on from the directors’ box - sat beside Rovers officials - as Rovers and Huddersfield battled to a 0-0 draw which saw almost 40 shots.

A somewhat coy refusal to discuss the striker from Paul Dickov in post-match questioning strongly suggests something is afoot in the transfer market.

Should Manchester United’s one-time next big thing be heading to Doncaster, he will now be well aware that the pressure on him for goals is strong.

Macheda saw - as part of an entertaining Yorkshire derby - Rovers dominate for long periods at the John Smith’s Stadium without managing to make it count.

Though the start to this season has been positive, questions remain over the amount of goals in the side.

Chris Brown is a tireless work horse who has consistently staked his claim as Rovers’ best player but his best work arguably comes outside the box.

And Theo Robinson, who was quiet against his former club, proves to be more dangerous as a breaking forward.

On Saturday, Rovers had enough chances to run out comfortable winners.

But at half time, there was a sense of dread that profligacy in front of goal would come back and haunt Rovers.

And had Ross Turnbull not got the better of his thrilling duel with James Vaughan, Rovers would have been left ruing their wastefulness.

There was however a sense of contentment at another point gained on the road.

And added to the positive response from the poor showing against Bournemouth, there was not too much disappointment in the air.

The energy which has been so important to Rovers’ play returned, albeit in a very considered fashion against Huddersfield’s rare wing back system.

There was not the intense pressing seen in other games as this would likely have played straight into the hosts’ hands as they looked to form passing triangles.

Instead, Rovers ensured space was at a premium, operating a narrow diamond in midfield when out of possession.

Huddersfield had a frustrating time, particularly in the first half as they struggled to find the fluidity they craved.

Jonathan Stead’s introduction at the break gave them someone to move the ball to quickly and he produced a strong performance which rejuvenated the hosts.

While defensively they were strong, Rovers also looked good in attack with plenty of freedom given to the wide players.

James Coppinger produced arguably his best performance in months, drifting around to play and receive short passes.

And James Husband was brought into the game as an attacking threat more than he has been recently, taking advantage of the lack of an out and out full back for the opposition.

Rovers settled much quicker than Huddersfield to control play for at least the first quarter of the game.

They produced arguably their best chance of the game inside the first ten minutes.

David Cotterill sent over a teasing cross and Chris Brown powered a header on goal from six yards, producing a stunning one handed save from Alex Smithies.

From the subsequent corner, Rovers had the ball in the back of the net only to see it ruled out for a foul.

Brown again rose to head in but was judged rather fairly to have impeded Smithies.

Chances continued to come, with lofted balls into the box in particular causing problems for the hosts.

Brown struck a fine half volley from a corner only to see Adam Clayton launch himself at it on the line to block.

And moments later Richie Wellens curled well over from the edge of the area as he struck a Cotterill corner first time.

Rovers almost found joy with a very well-worked free kick routine.

Cotterill was released early and sent in a low cross which Theo Robinson dummied only for Brown to scuff his shot from 10 yards with Huddersfield caught napping.

Huddersfield’s on-song striker Vaughan popped up in his own box to hook the ball off the line following a real scramble from a corner.

He was rewarded for his defensive effort with his side’s first real chance on 25 minutes.

The Rovers defence were caught flat-footed from the right as Vaughan was sent in but his attempt to place a shot from just inside the area produced a tame effort which Turnbull dealt with easily.

Huddersfield did begin to break the line with Martin Paterson surging through and squaring to Vaughan who could not find space away from Jones to get a shot away.

Turnbull was quick off his line all afternoon to chase down Vaughan with the striker’s attempts to flick the ball around him only sending it running out of play.

The early stages of the second half were as open as the game had been.

Stead made his presence felt early with good work in the final third but Wellens almost put Rovers ahead only to see his shot with the outside of his boot drift narrowly wide.

Jonathan Hogg missed a real sitter for the hosts as Stead kept possession superbly coming off the byline only for the midfielder to side-foot over from inside ten yards.

Former Barnsley wide man Adam Hammill almost caught Turnbull out with an audacious chipped effort from the corner of the box.

Huddersfield were in the ascendancy but continued to be frustrated by the excellent Turnbull.

Substitute Sean Scannell caught Bongani Khumalo flat-footed and sent in Vaughan who stabbed a first-time effort only for Turnbull to rush out and block.

Rovers’ chances were limited but Brown could have nicked it late on when he met a Cotterill cross but couldn’t turn it on target.

Huddersfield could not have come much closer in the dying stages.

Clayton strolled through the box and found Joel Lynch who somehow struck the bar from inside the six yard box.

It was a let off, but one Rovers deserved after rediscovering their groove in West Yorkshire.

The only thing missing now is that goal threat.