The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Joe Thomas

AFRAN­TIC fin­ish left the trav­el­ling support in rap­tures, but for Hud­der­s­field boss Chris Pow­ell the late drama at the John Smith’s Sta­dium left a bit­ter taste.

Grant Lead­bit­ter was the ar­chi­tect of the Ter­ri­ers’ down­fall, just when it seemed Pow­ell’s first match in charge might end on a pos­i­tive note.

Pow­ell was cel­e­brat­ing in his tech­ni­cal area when for­mer Sun­der­land striker Jon Stead pounced to can­cel out Lead­bit­ter’s stun­ning first-half free-kick.

The lev­eller ar­rived com­pletely against the run of play and ap­peared to make Boro pay the price for fail­ing to add a sec­ond – un­til Ter­ri­ers full-back Tommy Smith in­ter­vened.

With a ball in to the box half­cleared, Smith naively tugged on the shirt of Adam Reach deep in to stop­page time and ref­eree Kevin Wright pointed to the spot.

Lead­bit­ter – the coolest man on the pitch – sent goal­keeper Alex Smithies the wrong way and spoilt the oc­ca­sion for Pow­ell, who took over last week fol­low­ing Mark Robins’ sack­ing.

“I thought we were in for a point when we got that late goal,” he said.

“I have ended up with a re­ally dis­ap­point­ing end to a day I was look­ing for­ward to.We fought our way back in to the game.

“When you get a lev­eller that late you look to ba­ton down the hatches, take a point and build from there. It was an in­di­vid­ual er­ror by a young player. He shouldn’t be do­ing that kind of thing in the 92nd minute but he will learn from sit­u­a­tions like that.

“But what pleased me was the man­ner we stuck at it against a Mid­dles­brough side who are quite rightly well-fan­cied to do well this sea­son.”

After back-to-back home de­feats in the Cham­pi­onship Mid­dles­brough needed a lift and got one, even if it took a dra­matic end­ing to fin­ish off a re­silient Hud­der­s­field.

An event­ful first half which had more cards than clear cut chances after a few tough chal­lenges, Mid­dles­brough edged ahead when Lead­bit­ter de­liv­ered in style.

The for­mer Ipswich mid­fielder ar­rowed a pow­er­ful free-kick from 35 yards straight into Smithies’ top left cor­ner, leav­ing the goal­keeper with no chance.

After that Kike and Adam Clayton both spurned chances to ex­tend the lead be­fore the break.

There were also fur­ther chances after the restart, but the cru­cial sec­ond goal failed to ar­rive and when Hud­der­s­field counter at­tacked with four min­utes re­main­ing Stead en­joyed his mo­ment of glory.

Ward’s cen­tre, after a lovely pass from for­mer Boro man Ja­cob But­ter­field, was per­fect for Stead to move ahead of his marker and beat Dimi Kon­stan­topou­los from close range.

Hud­der­s­field thought they had done enough but then Smith’s er­ror handed Lead­bit­ter the ideal chance to take cen­tre stage. He did not dis­ap­point.

“Lead­bit­ter is a very good player, who de­served his goals be­cause he leads by ex­am­ple,” said Boro boss Ai­tor Karanka.

“He is a player who re­ally im­pressed when I came here and now he is the kind of player we need. He is a strong character, he is al­ways work­ing hard and a player who can also score goals. The first goal, es­pe­cially, was a spe­cial one.

“We are im­prov­ing with the new play­ers but we will need a good fully fit squad be­cause we have six games in 19 days com­ing up. I shall need them all to be ready to be in­volved.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it when their equaliser went in, I don’t know how many chances we had had to go fur­ther ahead be­fore that. Kike,Vossen and Bam­ford all had op­por­tu­ni­ties. I still thought we were the bet­ter side and de­served to win the game.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

GOLDEN BOY: Grant Lead­bit­ter cel­e­brates his win­ning penalty in front of the Mid­dles­brough fans In­set: The mid­fielder slots the spot kick home

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