After a first defeat of the season in the tight game at Brighton in midweek, David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town side responded brilliantly; deservedly beating QPR at a packed John Smith’s Stadium.
Goals from Kasey Palmer and top scorer Elias Kachunga gave Wagner’s side the two goal lead it deserved after some scintillating attacking football and stout defensive work, with Idrissa Sylla’s goal nothing more than a consolation.
This win was a first over bogey side Rangers in seven games, dating back to a home victory in 2002, and was a fourth straight home win to start the campaign.
The game started in a fairly even fashion, with Town escaping a pretty unlucky situation inside five minutes when a Chris Schindler clearance from young winger Olamide Shodipo’s cross cannoned off striker Conor Washington before flashing over the bar.
However, the Terriers soon clicked into gear, with Palmer right at the middle of things in an excellent opening 45 minutes from the entire team. His 11th minute cross-field pass to the overlapping Tommy Smith started things, with the defender’s return pass being hit wide first time by the Chelsea youngster.
However, there was no mistake in the 14th minute when Palmer scored his second career goal in just his second start. It was another perfect ball that released Smith and although his good cross evaded everyone, Rajiv van La Parra kept it alive at the other side.
His cross caused immediate danger for the Rangers defence and as both centre backs were attracted towards Nahki Wells, the ball went longer and Palmer’s run onto the ball was perfectly timed; he made no mistake with his close range header past former Town stopper Alex Smithies.
Town grew in confidence after the goal and dominated the majority of the half. QPR still had efforts from range, with the dangerous Tjaronn Chery firing straight at Ward from range before Massimo Luongo drive a shot wide.
However, Wagner’s side was in the ascension. Palmer went so close to sliding Wells clear with a pair of unbelievable slide-rule passes before Elias Kachunga – deployed on the wing again today – switched to the left and raced past Nedum Onuoha. Van La Parra’s resulting shot was blocked and from the follow-up, Löwe drove a long range effort over the bar.
Palmer then found the head of the unmarked Wells in the box with a superb driven cross from the left, but the Bermudian was flagged offside as Smithies tipped his effort over the crossbar.
QPR made two changes at the interval to try and turn the tide, but to no immediate avail as Town continued to push forward. Kachunga soon headed over another excellent van La Parra cross after Palmer’s corner had been cleared to the right.
The near-20,000 Town fans were unhappy just before the hour mark after Wells was brought down by Onuoha latching onto Palmer’s through ball and their mood didn’t get better moments after when the striker was denied a penalty when his clever flick appeared to strike the hand of centre back Hall in the area, with the referee waving the claims away.
They thought the second goal had come two minutes later when Palmer cleverly flicked the ball over the defensive line, but Kachunga was offside when he volleyed past Smithies. Had Kache left the ball alone, Palmer would have been clear.
Thankfully, the second goal that the Terriers deserved soon came. Hogg’s precise 62nd minute ball into the right channel was perfect for Tommy Smith to run onto and his deep cross took Smithies out of the game, allowing top scorer Kachunga to rise above the defender at the far post and loop a header into the net from close range.
QPR’s only threat was from set pieces and it took a good defensive block in the penalty area to block Shodipo’s drive from Bidwell’s free kick into the area.
Kachunga and Palmer blasted shots off target as Town continued to press, only for QPR to get a goal back in the 76th minute in slightly unfortunate circumstances.
Town were temporarily down to 10 men when the goal came, with Tommy Smith on the sidelines after a nasty collision with Mark Hudson’s elbow. With Town a man light, Tjaronn Chery collected the ball after an initial corner was cleared and delivered an excellent cross onto the head of substitute Idrissa Sylla, who headed home at close range.
QPR went longer in the final minutes to try and find an equaliser, prompting Wagner to bring on Hefele, Bunn and Whitehead to shore things up. They still had chances, with Mooy having a shot deflected just wide before Hefele almost scored an unbelievable goal in added time after a charge down the left and a one-two with Löwe.
The away side was thwarted twice late on by some calm defending, with Ward coming to punch another Chery delivery clear before Whitehead calmly headed back to his ‘keeper under intense pressure from Sylla.
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 (Harry Bunn, 81), Kasey Palmer (Dean Whitehead, 86), Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells (Michael Hefele, 90+1)
Joel Coleman, Sean Scannell, Martin Cranie, Jack Payne