Substitute Beckford seals win with brace
The saying goes ‘fortune favours the brave’ and that was certainly the case for Mark Robins and his Huddersfield Town side at Molineux this afternoon.
With the game finely balanced at 1-1 with 25 minutes to go, the Town boss introduced Jermaine Beckford to the game at the expense of a midfielder – and the striker repaid him with a quick-fire second half brace to give Town a potentially vital three points against fellow battlers Wolves.
Before that brilliant climax Town had fought back from an early setback through another superb individual strike from Sean Scannell, who tormented the hosts with his trademark mixture of power, pace and dribbling ability.
Dean Saunders’ side had height and power throughout, from giant centre halves Roger Johnson and Kaspars Gorkss at the back to workhorse striker Kevin Doyle up front.
The Terriers were slow out of the blocks and the hosts took the initiative with some good play in the opening minutes, which culminated in a goal within the opening four minutes.
Icelandic striker Bjorn Sigurdarson – half brother of former Town man Joey Gudjonsson – had powerfully headed Jamie O’Hara’s free kick wide within 120 seconds of the start before the first goal came. It was Sigurdarson who found space between Town’s defence and midfield to gain possession and drive at Peter Clarke before slipping the ball to his left for Doyle and when the Irishman squeezed a cross between the dead ball line and Calum Woods, Stephen Ward slid between two defenders to poke the ball home and give the hosts a dream start.
With Wolves looking for long diagonal passes at every opportunity the Terriers were probably guilty of starting too deep at times and were also conceding a few too many free-kicks too, but they battled their way into the game and had their first chance of note in the 17th minute.
A patient passing move that spanned the width of the large Molineux pitch resulted in Ollie Norwood whipping a first time cross into the area and James Vaughan did brilliantly to get across his marker Johnson, but he half-volleyed the ball just wide of the near post.
Mark Robins then switched Clayton to the right with Danns coming infield and that heralded Town’s best period of the half. The men in navy enjoyed more and more possession – and made it count with a superb equaliser in the 27th minute.
When the ball was played out to Sean Scannell on the left it looked harmless, but the powerful winger had other ideas. Allowing the ball to run across him he outmuscled right back Matt Doherty with apparent ease down the touchline before driving infield and riding another challenge. Entering the area he steadied himself before slamming the ball past De Vries from an acute angle for his first away goal in the League for the Terriers and a brilliant third goal of the campaign.
Town pushed on for a second and it almost came on the half hour mark when Vaughan out-jumped Gorkss and found Clayton, who showed great feet to dance past two challenges in the area. Sadly for the travelling Terriers the goalkeeper reacted to block the attempted shot at the feet of the midfielder before Danns acrobatically volleyed the rebound over from a narrow angle.
A deflected Norwood drive caused De Vries a few anxious moments three minutes later before the Terriers had the final chance of the half on the stroke of the interval; Danns turning past Doherty inside the box before testing the goalie with a low left footed drive.
Wolves had the first chance of the second period when full back Robinson’s cross found goalscorer Ward at the near post, but Peter Clarke – who had been making heroic blocks all afternoon – deflected the ball behind excellently. The corner eventually dropped to Doyle at the far post, but he wildly volleyed into the crowd.
Saunders’ men were enjoying some territorial pressure during the opening stages of the second half, but the home crowd were audibly frustrated at the direct nature of their side’s play. At the other end the Town fans in the Stan Cullis Stand were right behind their side.
Oscar Gobern picked up an injury when he was caught by the punching De Vries in the 64th minute and that signalled a double change for the Terriers, were Beckford and Southern coming on for him and Neil Danns.
Immediately upon the restart Wolves won a corner down the Town right and Roger Johnson was guilty of a dreadful miss when the ball was recycled into the area, dragging a half volley miles wide at the far post.
Sean Scannell tormented Wolves again in the 68th minute, outrageously skipping between two players before knocking Sigurdarson out of the way and flying outside Doherty. To his credit the full back recovered to clear the ball behind for a corner.
Up stepped Oliver Norwood to swing the ball in and when Vaughan headed towards goal, the ‘keeper pushed the ball out – straight into the path of substitute Beckford, who gleefully turned the ball home!
The striker wasn’t done there. With Wolves shell-shocked, Scannell picked up the loose ball again and drove past Karl Henry upon the restart before sliding a perfect ball between the centre halves, which Beckford ran onto. With ultimate calmness Beckford stepped past the final defender onto his favoured right foot and dinked the ball over the stranded goalkeeper to extend Town’s lead!
A horrible few minutes for the hosts was compounded when they kicked off. Southern stepped in to make a challenge on O’Hara and a foul was given, but the Wolves midfielder reacted stupidly – pushing Keith in the face. Unsurprisingly, once a melee had calmed down, referee Keith Stroud showed him a straight red card.
Town still had to be alert for the final quarter of an hour and had a scare when Sigurdarson headed a corner wide when unmarked at the back post.
Dean Saunders introduced former Town loanee Adam Hammill and striker Nouha Dicko to the game with ten minutes left in his final throw of the dice
Wolves threw the kitchen sink at Town with ten minutes left and it took one superb back post block from Woods to stop Gorkss’ goal-bound shot in the 83rd minute.
Peter Clarke performed similar heroics with a near post block a couple of minutes later before Robins introduced Alan Lee for the tireless Vaughan with two minutes left.
Lee sent Beckford clear down the left in the final minute of normal time as the sub looked to complete a 25 minute hat-trick, but this time De Vries pushed away his left footed snapshot.
There were six minutes of added time at the end of the game due to the O’Hara incident, but Town held on for a potentially massive three points.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Anthony Gerrard, Peter Clarke (c), Calum Woods; Oscar Gobern (Keith Southern 64), Oliver Norwood; Sean Scannell, Adam Clayton, Neil Danns (Jermaine Beckford 64); James Vaughan (Alan Lee 88)
Ian Bennett, Murray Wallace, Scott Arfield, Joel Lynch
Stephen Ward (59)
Wolves Red Card:
Jamie O’Hara (72)
Jermaine Beckford (70); Keith Southern (72); Peter Clarke (73)