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Michael O’Neill proud of Stoke’s attitude after key decisions go against them

Huddersfield Town v Stoke City – Sky Bet Championship – The John Smith’s Stadium
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill praised his team’s attitude to gain a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield after claiming all of the game’s key decisions went against the visitors.

Josh Koroma opened the scoring for the Terriers in the first half but was lucky to still be on the pitch having caught Taylor Harwood-Bellis with an ugly knee-high challenge.

Before the break, Tyrese Campbell was then tripped in the box by Tom Lees only for vociferous away shouts for a penalty to be also rejected by referee Gavin Ward.

But substitute Jacob Brown, who O’Neill also felt was the victim of another red-card challenge, went on to secure a share of the spoils in the 78th minute.

On his team’s character and the performance of Ward, O’Neill said: “The key decisions in the game all went against us and I can’t explain why that is.

“It was clearly a red card for Koroma. I’ve seen it back and it was a straight red card tackle on Taylor.

“I don’t think it was malicious – it was a forward’s tackle but, nonetheless, it was a red card and, then, Koroma went on to score. It was also a clear penalty on Tyrese.

“He was on the blind side of the defender who didn’t see him coming and Tyrese got to the ball first but, again, the referee didn’t see that.

“I thought there should have also been another red card for the second-half tackle on Jacob, but the players’ attitude to being hard done by was terrific.

“We deserved at least a point if not more. The opposition started extremely well and they are a good team who press hard, but we were clearly the better team in the second half and probably from half-an-hour onwards.”

Huddersfield manager Carlos Corberan confessed that his team tired both physically and mentally after the interval.

“We spent a lot of mental and physical energy in the first half but we could not keep that up in the second half and we could not keep playing as well technically either,” he reasoned.

“Maybe I should have introduced the substitutes I made earlier.

“We were breaking and pressing very well in the first half and, while Lee Nicholls made an amazing save for us, we were controlling the game and everything was fine.

“We didn’t change anything for the second half, but we were not recovering the ball and making transitions.

“There was no intention to play deeper but we did not attack well and didn’t create any problems for them. Every time we tried to play short, we were losing the ball in our half of the pitch.”

On goalscorer Koroma’s impressive first half being followed by a quieter second period in which he was substituted in the 73rd minute, Corberan added: “He played his best 45 minutes in the first half but he needs to extend that over more minutes.”

Huddersfield sent their best wishes to a supporter who was taken ill during the match in a social media post.

“Everyone at HTAFC wishes a full and speedy recovery to our fellow Terrier who was taken ill at the John Smith’s Stadium this evening,” read a Huddersfield tweet.

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