Another game, another play-off placed team. That has seemed to be the ‘norm’ for Huddersfield Town recently, as they embarked on their final game of a three-game week. All three games in this difficult week were against top-six teams. After slipping to goalless back-to-back defeats at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough, manager David Wagner challenged his squad to get their first win against a top-six team all season, at Hull City’s expense. The visitors are trying to gain promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, and required to take all three points back to the KC Stadium in order to have a realistic chance of automatic promotion. The Tigers are a strong outfit, and have a wealth of Premier League experience within their ranks – especially in the form of ex-Town manager Steve Bruce, assisted by ex-Manchester United coach Mike Phelan.
Huddersfield Town rested Joel Lynch to the bench to be replaced by the rotation centre back Martin Cranie. Rajiv Van la Parra made his home debut, replacing Bunn, whilst Husband returned at left back in place of Jason Davidson. As for Hull, they began with a three-man defence, and were able to field the likes of Livermore, Huddlestone, Snodgrass and Abel Hernandez. Town started the stronger of the two sides, and looked very much back to their devastating best in attack, with Van la Parra, Paterson, Lolley and Wells combining numerous times and forcing saves from McGregor in the Hull goal. The first goal came on 40 minutes, as Husband cut the ball back, following an excellent run, into the path of Paterson, who finished it impressively into the bottom corner. In added time of the first half, it was almost 2-0 as Lolley’s shot looked destined for the top corner, just for Maguire to clear in time. After the half-time whistle, Town had to weather some expected pressure from the visitors, but it was Town who continued to create the best opportunities. Van la Parra, who was excellent in driving Town forward in the seconf half, found Wells, who almost found the bottom corner, before Emyr Huws had a free header tipped over the bar from the resulting corner. With half an hour left on the clock, Hull began to turn the srew, with Huddlestone’s deflected shot hitting the bar prior to the introduction 0f Aluko and Diomande, which proved to be a major turning point in the game. Less than a minute after coming on, Aluko found Hernandez who made no mistake, after Hudson carelessly gave the ball away in Town’s territory. This gave Hull a timley boost and despite Town dominating for large parts of the game, the visitors suddenly looked favourites to nick the three points. In the absence of the impressive Van la Parra (who was substituted for fitness reasons), Harry Bunn occupied the left wing, and just as it looked like both sides would take a point, he charged down the flank before his cross was headed into his own net empahtically by Hull defender Harry Maguire. This added to the 23-year-old’s bad memories of playing Town, as he was in Sheffield United’s starting 11 in Huddersfield’s famous Wembley triumph four years ago. However this wasn’t to be the final drama of the match – in the third minute off stoppage time, a Hull cross was nodded on, to be headed home by substitute Diomande. Town went away lost for words following the late equaliser, but held their heads high after dominating a game against one of the real big hitters of the division.
The performance was a vast improvement to the poor displays against Wednesday and in particular ‘Boro in midweek, and it was Town’s first point against a top-six team since way back in August (Brighton at home). David Wagner will no doubt be pleased by his side’s reaction and will relish being able to get valuable time on the training pitch before they travel to Blackburn on Saturday, hoping to secure their Championship status for 2016/17.