The reason for Huddersfield Town’s late struggles could be found on the treatment table

Huddersfield Town has developed a disturbing habit since the start of November of losing leads and conceding late goals.

Losing points to Peterborough, Cardiff, QPR and Coventry in this way cost them their early season momentum and the Terriers are currently on a run which has seen them take ten of the last 30 points available.

Yesterday’s point actually took them a spot in 10th place in the table, but they started November in fifth place and difficult. Since then, they have added just six points to their overall total and have fallen in the middle of a very tight Championship field.

When you analyze why a pattern might repeat itself, you look for common factors. Along with Town, there is one, or rather one missing, that could be part of the reason why this keeps happening.

Jonathan Hogg is not only the captain, but he is often also the barometer of the whole team. When the general is in good shape, it usually coincides with a good run for the Terriers – it certainly means they’re generally more stable defensively.

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Hogg completed 90 minutes in six of Town’s eight wins this season, missing only Blackburn and West Brom’s wins with injury. Town has collected 21 of his total of 30 points in games where he played 45 minutes or more.

Above all, what has only happened once with him on the pitch is the conceding of a late goal – it was Sheffield United’s equalizer earlier this season and we all know how that match took place. Late equalizers Peterborough and Coventry, and late winners Cardiff and QPR all came without Hogg in the camp.

We think it depends on two factors, one is quantifiable, so we’ll start there. This extra level of protection that Hogg provides to the last three is crucial. At the most basic level, this allows him to drop into the bottom three when Matty Pearson or Levi Colwill have to push wide – especially trying to cut through the center.

This reduction in space is vital and even later in games where congestion in the box can help tired legs defend themselves. Just being in the penalty area can make life more difficult for attacking teams, and sometimes that is enough.

Hogg has a tendency, for better or for worse before anyone points it out in the comments section, to look back more than most on the Town side. That’s not a review, although some will use him as such, it’s really a big part of his lead role on the team.

This means Town often has a different set of eyes to see danger and react. Lewis O’Brien is usually higher up the pitch and naturally forward oriented, Scott High is still learning his craft but for our money he does a decent job. Neither does Hoggy, and that early warning system is much missed and even later in games.

The second big factor isn’t statistics or tactics, or anything that you can measure on a spreadsheet. It’s purely leadership on the pitch when Hogg is around. Defense is a team sport and Hogg leads this orchestra. Quite simply, they miss his responsibility when he’s not on the pitch.

No one else provides the aggressiveness that Hogg does when he’s on the pitch. Tom Lees leads by example, O’Brien is still young and does not have the natural authority of his usual midfielder partner. This captain’s desire to keep standards at the highest level from the first to the last moment is one of the unmeasurable things holding Town back right now.

The latest on Hogg’s current injury is that he is working on his recovery at the club with no date for his return. Town will face a trip to Bristol and then a Boxing Day home game against Blackpool. Neither game is likely to feature the captain. They need to get at least one win over those two so that we don’t all start to think that this is a slip rather than a blip.

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