HUDDERSFIELD Town will arrive at St Mary’s languishing in the Championship’s bottom five after a ‘car crash of a performance’ at home to fellow strugglers Stoke City on New Year’s Day.

After finishing bottom of the Premier League with only 16 points last season, Huddersfield are battling to avoid back-to-back relegations.

Their chances were not helped when they were thrashed at home by one of the few teams below them, despite taking a 2-1 lead early in the second half.

Southampton-born Sam Vokes, Danny Ings’ former strike partner at Burnley, gave Stoke a 1-0 half-time lead.

And after equalising through Steve Mounie, an own goal gave Huddersfield the lead.

But they then conceded four goals in the last 35 minutes.

Danny Cowley, their manager since September, said: “It was a car crash of a performance. I didn’t think we were very good in the first half, we were miles off the pace physically.

“We got bullied and beat up by a powerful Stoke team. We couldn’t cope with it.

“To be fair to the players it’s been a tough Christmas and we’ve got such a small squad.

“We’ve only got about 14 players that we can go to and even some of them were injured.”

One of those injured players is Alex Pritchard, who scored Huddersfield’s last Premier League goal at St Mary’s last season.

Huddersfield drew 1-1 in both visits to St Mary’s during their two seasons in the Premier League.

They trailed 1-0 at half-time in both matches, to a Charlie Austin goal in December 2017 and to Nathan Redmond’s stunning 20-yard curler into the top corner eight months.

Although they have had a change of manager, nine of the Huddersfield team that played at St Mary’s in May are still with the club. Ironically defender Tom Smith is now with Stoke while Australian international Aaron Mooy, is on a season-long loan with Brighton.

Pritchard, who cancelled out Redmond’s goal after nicking the ball off Angus Gunn, has been restricted to nine appearances this season and has not played for more than a month because of a knee injury.

Most of Huddersfield’s last St Mary’s team played on Saturday, but will arrive at St Mary’s low on confidence after collapsing in inexplicable fashion against Stoke, having won their two previous home matches against Nottingham Forest and Blackburn.

Looking ahead to the trip to St Mary’s at a press conference yesterday morning, Cowley said: “They’re on a fantastic run after a difficult result against Leicester.

“I’ll be interested to speak to them after and see what they’ve done differently off the back of that.

“Full respect for their management group and players for getting through that. No doubt they woke up this morning very proud of beating Spurs.”

Cowley has recent pedigree in the FA Cup.

With his brother Nicky as his assistant, he took Lincoln City to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup three seasons ago.

“We love the FA Cup, it’s been a great competition for us from getting Concord Rangers to the first round, to Braintree playing Oxford over two games, then obviously getting through to the quarters at Lincoln in our first year there,” he continued.

“It’s fresh and different to the league. It’s a brilliant competition and we’re going to do our best to try and find a way. We have the opportunity to go to a Premier League team that have been doing really well in recent weeks and we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re going to try to pick the best team we can.”