49,000 Geordies behind their team. £44million spent in the transfer window. A Champions League winning manager. Massive favourites to win the league. Surely everything pointed towards a Toon win as Town made the trip to Newcastle, backed by a fantastic 3200 travelling fans. That wasn’t to be the case, as the Terriers backed up their opening day win with a famous performance that was hailed by manager David Wagner as ‘unbelievable and outstanding”.
The head coach made four alterations from the side that lost disappointingly 2-1 at Shrewsbury in midweek, as Hudson, Smith and Lolley returned in place of Stankovic, Cranie and Scannell, whilst Nahki Wells made his first appearance of the season, replacing Jack Payne, who has impressed in the early days of his Town career. This meant that Town lined up with two strikers – something Wagner hasn’t done very often since joining the club. As for the hosts, their line-up included a wealth of Premier League experience, including the likes of Shelvey, Diame and Gayle. The strength of Newcastle’s squad was shown by their ability to name a bench with Clark, Colback and Ritchie on it. Despite the on-paper gulf, Town started as they left off against Brentford, with Kachunga striking the post early in the game. Town eventually took the lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half, as Van la Parra’s run and cross found Nahki Wells on the turn, who finished excellently. Wells’ account opened for this campaign (after 17 league goals last term), and more importantly, the Terriers leading at half-time. Newcastle, as expected were more dominant in the second half and had more of the ball, despite not creating too much. That was, until, Mark Hudson was deemed to have handled in the area, and the hosts had the chance from the spot to level things up. New £10million striker Dwight Gayle stepped up for Newcatsle, and despite Danny Ward saving the penalty, he headed home the rebound to make it 1-1 with a third of the match to go. Town fans wouldn’t have been blamed for settling for a point at this stage, as the toon fans expected to take all three – with the wind in their sails. But one thing we’ve learnt since David Wagner was appointed, is to never write Huddersfield Town off, due to their hard work and self-belief. Since expanding his squad and adding quality additions in every department, the head coach has stressed the importance of substitutes making a difference when called upon – just like Kasey Palmer did last weekend against Brentford. This week, he brought on Jack Payne, alongside Palmer, to make the difference. And they did make a difference, as Palmer found Payne, who despite the attraction of two defenders and the goalkeeper, fired Town back into the lead, and sent the away end into delirium. Just like against Brentford last week, the defence stood firm in the final stages to deny Newcastle a point, and to send the Terriers to the top of the league (albeit joint top)! A fantastic turn around, as it was just twelve months ago when Chris Powell insisted that Huddersfield Town couldn’t compete with the top clubs in the division. Self-belief, hard work and quality additions mean that this club can compete, and I’m sure the fans will show their appreciation yet again at Villa Park on Tuesday night!