A first goal in English football from Aaron Mooy sealed another West Yorkshire derby win for Huddersfield Town at Elland Road as the Sky Bet Championship got back under way after the first international break.
The Australian’s second half goal was enough to see Town win back-to-back league games at Elland Road for the first time since 1930, with Town’s 16 points from a first possible 18 now the best ever start to a league campaign.
The game featured very few clear-cut chances, but Mooy’s moment of quality – a stunning 25 yard strike that left Rob Green with no chance – gave Town the three points that the players deserved for their general control of the match, with Leeds having no real big opportunities.
As you’ve come to expect from David Wagner’s Town side, the men in yellow and black enjoyed a lot of possession during the first 45 minutes.
Some patient passing in the opening 10 minutes took the sting out of the derby atmosphere and allowed the Terriers to settle into a pattern, although they also tried a few balls into the channels – particularly to allow Elias Kachunga to stretch 6’ 5” debutant centre back Pontus Jansson.
Wagner applauded his side’s intent on several occasions, but the game was devoid of genuine chances until the 25th minute. On that occasion a spot of Gegenpressing presented Jack Payne, back in the starting XI, the chance to shoot, but he was correctly given offside.
Leeds’ defenders were pressed into long balls towards Chris Wood by the lively Town forwards on several occasions and the best they could muster in the opening half hour was a woeful long range strike from Alex Mowatt that rose high into the South Stand at Elland Road.
Town increased the pace on the 30-minute mark and had their best chance of the half. Kachunga’s shot from outside the area was blocked, but he reacted quickly and picked up the rebound before squaring to Aaron Mooy. The Australian had time to take aim and pulled a low drive around a foot wide of Rob Green’s right hand post from 25 yards out.
Moments later, Payne played a neat one-two with Kachunga before releasing Harry Bunn down the right, who was making his first start of the campaign. The low cross found Payne in the area, but centre back Kyle Bartley did excellently to block his shot behind.
After a long delay in play, caused when Bartley and Green collided dealing with a Town corner, Bunn almost slid Kachunga clear of the defence; unfortunately the Ingolstadt loanee couldn’t hold his run and was offside when the ball was played.
Leeds’ best chances came thereafter. A Kalvin Phillips near post corner found the unmarked Wood, who had space after his marker Tommy Smith was blocked off, but the striker flicked his header wide of the near post.
In the 44th minute, the home players and fans were sure they should have had a penalty – but referee Roger East turned it down. Schindler battled with Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson on the dead ball line and looked to hold back his opponent as he wriggled free, but the ref waved the appeals away.
The Leeds supporters were further incensed just afterwards when Mooy produced a poor tackle on skipper Liam Bridcutt, for which the Man City loanee received the game’s first yellow card.
Leeds started the second half with a slightly better tempo, but Town soon took the pace out of the game with another spell of possession.
Town got back on the attack, which led to the only goal of the game in the 55th minute. Although a cross from the Town left into the Leeds area was initially headed clear, Jack Payne managed to stretch and hook it back into Mooy’s path.
The Australian did the rest. Afforded too much space 25 yards out, he steadied himself before drilling the ball hard past Green’s right-hand dive to give his side the lead before racing to celebrate with the 2,700-strong away contingent.
Leeds toiled in response, with Mowatt forcing Ward into routine near post action from Doukara’s half-deflected cross.
Kasey Palmer came on with just over 10 minutes left and went as close as anyone to a superb second, spinning past Phillips before powering a flashy drive just over the Leeds crossbar from range.
Then the excellent van La Parra almost broke clear onto sub Nahki Wells’ reverse pass, only for Jansson to execute a good last ditch challenge.
At the other end, Palmer took a risk in a bad area and it led to what was Leeds’ best second half chance, albeit nothing too clear. Mowatt’s clipped ball into the box fell on Wood’s head, but the ball had no pace to it and he could only manage a tame header that Ward saved routinely to his left.
Instead, Town showed calmness to see out the final minutes – all 10 of them in added time, largely due to spells of treatment for Schindler (twice) and Bridcutt.
Van La Parra almost scored an amazing second, hitting a first-time shot from a loose Taylor pass after seeing Green slightly off his line. The experienced former England ‘keeper did well, back-peddling to tip the Dutchman’s audacious 45 yard effort over.
Rajiv wanted a penalty late on after clashing with right back Ayling in the box, but it looked soft and wasn’t given.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg; Rajiv van La Parra, Jack Payne (Kasey Palmer, 80), Harry Bunn (Michael Hefele, 90+8); Elias Kachunga (Nahki Wells, 78)
Joel Coleman, Dean Whitehead, Martin Cranie, Jon Gorenc Stanković
Aaron Mooy (45); Tommy Smith (62); Harry Bunn (72); Rajiv van La Parra (74); Chris Löwe (86)