A brace from top scorer Nahki Wells set Town on the way to a welcome home victory over visitors Preston North End on a windy Boxing Day.
Wells gave the Terriers a half time lead despite a performance where David Wagner’s side didn’t perform to its best, but with the wind at their backs the players improved tenfold and blew away Simon Grayson’s side.
It was the Lilywhites who created a few promising situations in the first 45 minutes of the game as Wagner’s side didn’t keep possession or press the opposition with the intensity the Head Coach would desire.
Preston’s game was quite simple; get the ball into the box for strikers Will Keane and one-time Town loanee Joe Garner to attack.
On two occasions Jed Steer – on the final day of his short term loan from Aston Villa – executed good saves, denying Keane with a good save from a stinging volley before saving Adam Reach’s low header following a cross from former Town player Tom Clarke.
However, the goal on the 38th minute showcased exactly what Wagner wants from his side in possession. Keeping the passing short, the Terriers probed the Preston backline and started again if a way through wasn’t evident.
Eventually Joel Lynch fired an excellent pass to the left edge of the area for Emyr Huws, who had been restored to the starting line-up after a two game absence with a hamstring injury; he positioned his body perfectly to roll Clarke before sending a perfect low ball across the face of goal for striker Wells to tap home for his first home goal in over two months.
Town’s improved second half performance coincided with another quick change from Wagner, who introduced Harry Bunn into the number 10 slot during the interval in place of Kyle Dempsey. Bunn was straight at the home defence, with his 47th minute shot being spilled by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford before Wells followed-up – only to be adjudged as offside.
However, the Bermudian didn’t have to wait long for his second of the game and seventh of the season. Another Bunn pass played Wells into the penalty area, but the striker did very well to beat Pickford with a fierce low shot from a very narrow angle on his favoured right foot.
At one end the Terriers, led by the excellent Hudson, defended well, but Preston’s extremely high defensive line was giving Wells the freedom to run behind almost at will. Wells had a few opportunities for a hat-trick, with Pickford denying him twice, before Town netted the third in the 76th minute as Huws got on the scoresheet, scoring direct from a right-sided corner with an in-swinging delivery that somehow evaded Lynch and the goalkeeper at the near post!
Sean Scannell almost scored a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender inside the last 10 minutes after Cryuff-turning past the last defender, but opted for power over precision and blazed his shot off target.
Bunn should have scored his fourth of the season in the final minute of normal time when the excellent Joe Lolley sent him running clear, but placed his shot too close to Pickford.
In the end it was the visitors who scored with the final action of the game; Boro loanee Reach collecting a ball over the top before smartly rounding Steer and firing home.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; Ben Chilwell, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Emyr Huws (Martin Cranie, 81), Jonathan Hogg (Jamie Paterson, 86); Joe Lolley, Kyle Dempsey (Harry Bunn, 46), Sean Scannell; Nahki Wells
Joe Murphy, Jason Davidson, Mustapha Carayol, Flo Bojaj