Despite a heroic penalty save from Alex Smithies, the Terriers couldn't hang onto a two goal lead in a real battle at Stevenage this evening after a spirited fight-back from the hosts.
After a largely uneventful first half heralding few chances, Simon Grayson's side burst into life after the break and early goals from Danny Ward and Lee Novak gave them a two goal lead. Defender Michael Bostwick's header got the hosts back into the game but when Smithies saved a late penalty it all looked in vain - until substitute Robin Shroot's late leveller.
The Terriers, in their change strip of red and black, came under immediate pressure from kick-off when skipper Gary Naysmith conceded a free kick, with centre half Michael Bostwick's driven effort being deflected wide for a corner by a defender's foot in a packed penalty area.
Stevenage's Joel Byrom - who was playing in a position just behind the main striker - then sent a speculative long range drive onto the roof of the stand on the stroke of the fourth minute, continuing the momentum in what was an impressive start from the hosts.
Town fought back two minutes later and forced 'keeper Chris Day into the first save of the match with an impressive move. A right wing cross fell to Danny Cadamarteri on the left, who returned the ball towards the back post; Alan Lee nodded the ball back across goal to Danny Ward, who stung the palms of the home custodian with a fierce drive.
The tall figure of Oscar Gobern got his head to Ward's resulting corner, but could only flash his effort wide of the far post when well positioned in the centre of the penalty box.
The early stages were being played out in a tremendous atmosphere at the tight Lamex Stadium, with both sets of fans playing their part with great vocal support. Stevenage kept coming at the Terriers, but Jamie McCombe and co defended well and Danny Ward's fierce drive across the box was only cleared by the outstretched leg of striker Ben May in the 15th minute with several Town players swarming in the penalty area.
After the frantic opening the play finally settled down thereafter, with both sides looking to go a bit longer with a congested midfield area. Town wasted a decent-looking free-kick when Hunt miss-controlled Ward's square pass before home skipper Mark Roberts headed a far post corner well wide under heavy pressure from McCombe.
Gary Smith's side took every opportunity to deliver crosses into the box whenever they ventured into Town's half, but the commanding Alex Smithies' willingness to come and collect crosses was relieving the pressure on many occasions.
Danny Ward almost brought the game to life in the 32nd minute with a superb 25 yard drive that the home goalie had to push around his right
hand post. A long Naysmith free-kick into the area was half-cleared into the path of Joey Gudjonsson and the former Icelandic international showed good awareness to chest the ball into his teammate's path, who showed no hesitation in firing towards goal with a powerful low volley.
Chris Day required treatment after apparently falling heavily in making the save, but after a dose of the magic sponge he was deemed fit to continue.
Stevenage broke away from a poor resulting corner from Ward, but Scott Laird - a scorer at our last meeting in West Yorkshire back in October - wasted a good opportunity, blazing well over from range.
A typically gigantic throw from the left touchline by Sean Morrison landed on the head of fellow centre half McCombe in the 35th minute, but his deft header was cleared by defender Roberts only yards from his own goal.
Simon Grayson switched wingers Cadamarteri and Ward to the right and left respectively soon after but the hosts were the next to attack - former Millwall target man May heading well wide at full stretch from Lawrie Wilson's right wing cross.
BOOKING - Referee Mr Whitestone showed his first yellow card of the game in the 40th minute after Joel Byrom cynically impeded Oscar Gobern from launching a breakaway attack on the halfway line.
The referee soon brought an end to a largely uneventful half that heralded few chances, but had been a real battle nonetheless.
HALF-TIME: STEVENAGE 0 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0
SUB - Stevenage were forced into a substitution during the interval, with goalkeeper Chris Day unable to continue following the knock he took in the first-half; substitute custodian Alan Julian took his place.
The game recommenced at a fast pace, but as with the first half the midfield area was being largely bypassed. Simon Grayson was encouraging his new charges on from the touchline - and he soon had reason to celebrate.
GOAL - The Terriers took the lead in the 50th minute, showing a real clinical streak to punish the first genuine error from Stevenage in the game. Midfielder Stacy Long misplaced a pass infield straight to Lee Novak on the halfway line and the Town striker took advantage, driving at the heart of the home defence; he drew left back Darius Charles before sliding a pass into the area for right winger Danny Ward.
Initially it looked like Ward's first touch may have taken the ball too wide, but somehow the former Bolton man slipped a right footed shot between the goalkeeper and the near post to spark wild celebrations in the away end!
Stevenage tried to fight back immediately, but striker May fired drive well over from just over 20 yards out.
GOAL - Town extended their lead in the 55th minute through a spectacular Lee Novak drive. The striker picked up a good pass to feet from right back Jack Hunt and found himself in space, so using the run of Danny Ward as a decoy he turned towards goal before smashing a shot towards goal that seemed to catch replacement 'keeper Julian totally off guard - with the ball zipping past him before he moved.
Stevenage midfield Lawrie Wilson forced Alex Smithies into his first save of the game in the 58th minute with a decent effort from 25 yards out, but in truth it was never going to beat the Town shot-stopper.
Centre half Michael Bostwick survived a well-supported penalty shout inside his own area moments later when he tried to chest the ball back to Julian, with the ball hitting him dangerously close to the arm.
Long chipped a tame effort into the waiting hands of Smithies before Reid's acrobatic effort went way wide as the hosts tried to find a way back into the game.
Ward's excellent corner from the right forced Julian into action again with 25 minutes left, with the custodian doing well to tip the ball behind under heavy pressure.
SUB - Stevenage made their second substitute in the 67th minute, with Long replaced by Robin Shroot.
BOOKING - Danny Cadamarteri picked up Town's first yellow card of the game two minutes later after he clattered into right back Ronnie Henry.
SUB - Town's first change followed shortly afterwards, with Antony Kay making his first appearance of 2012 - he replaced Oscar Gobern.
GOAL - Stevenage were then handed a lifeline barely a minute later when defender Michael Bostwick scored with a powerful header from a corner. A sloppy header from Jamie McCombe handed Stevenage the set-piece - he headed behind when trying to play the ball back to Smithies and when Byrom curled the ball towards the near post Bostwick rose highest to plant a firm header past Smithies' outstretched hand and above Gary Naysmith on the post.
SUB - Manager Gary Smith made his final throw of the dice in the 74th minute, with winger Jennison Myrie-Williams replacing Craig Reid.
SUB - Town made a change at the same time, with Alan Lee - who had worked his socks off - replaced by Kallum Higginbotham.
BOOKING - Almost immediately upon the restart of play, Lee Novak was booked for kicking the ball away to waste time.
Ward soon drove a cross-come-shot wide of Julian's far post after cleverly side-stepping the challenge of full back Charles down the Town right.
The assistant referee then gave a penalty following a collision down Town's left channel after Sean Morrison collided with Lawrie Wilson right inside the top corner of the penalty area. Town protested the decision, but regardless the referee agreed.
Up stepped Scott Laird; he fired a decent penalty towards his right corner, but Alex Smithies leapt across and turned the ball around the post superbly at full stretch to keep his side ahead - prompting chants of 'England's number one' from the 700 Town fans at the opposite side of the Stadium!
Despite that setback the hosts had the wind in their sales and were pushing hard for an equaliser
SUB - Simon Grayson made his final substitution with five minutes left, with Anton Robinson replacing Joey Gudjonsson.
Novak had enjoyed a superb second-half and his tireless movement down the channels, along with some intelligent passing from Higginbotham, did a good job of running down the clock for the Terriers.
GOAL - However, the home side were not to be denied and hit an equaliser in the 89th minute of the game through substitute Robin Shroot. Fellow substitute Myrie-Williams powered down the left and fired a low drive across goal, giving the right winger the opportunity to run onto the ball and power home past a helpless Smithies.
BOOKING - Goalscorer Shroot was booked for taking his shirt off during the celebrations.
Town's team (4-4-2):
Alex Smithies; Gary Naysmith (c), Sean Morrison, Jamie McCombe, Jack Hunt; Danny Cadamarteri, Oscar Gobern (Antony Kay 70), Joey Gudjonsson (Anton Robinson 85), Danny Ward; Lee Novak, Alan Lee (Kallum Higginbotham 75)
Unused subs: Ian Bennett, Gary Roberts
Stevenage booking: Joel Byrom 40
Town bookings: Danny Cadamarteri 69; Lee Novak 75
Town fans: 702