The desired response to Sunday’s loss against Sheffield Wednesday didn’t exactly go to plan as Huddersfield Town fell to their second straight defeat against an inspired Preston North End. The match saw Town concede more than the single goal for the first time this season, as goals from Tom Clarke, Alex Baptiste and Paul Gallagher compounded The Terriers misery in Central Lancashire.
Town’s Head Coach David Wagner made two changes to the side that lost to Sheffield Wednesday last time out as Nahki Wells and Kasey Palmer made way for Sean Scannell and Jack Payne respectively. With Wells on the bench, Elias Kachunga led the line, allowing Scannell to slot in on the right hand alongside Jack Payne who took up the central role in the usual 4-2-3-1 set-up.
The breakthrough came the way of the hosts early on. Ex-Huddersfield man Tom Clarke squeezed in a headed effort off the post from a vicious Paul Gallagher in-swinging free-kick, giving the home side the advantage which David Wagner’s men never really recovered from.
The Terriers reply to going behind was promising; the restored Sean Scannell forced a key block from Australian Bailey Wright, before Tommy Smith’s cross was too close to the grasp of Chris Maxwell whilst looking Elias Kachunga at the far post.
Town were looking to turn the Lilywhites around and press them onto the back foot, but the plan just wasn’t quite clicking as yet in the first period. In fact, it was Preston who nearly doubled their lead soon after. The ever dangerous Gallagher swung in another teasing ball, only this time for Jordan Hugill’s goal-bound header to be tipped over by a fully-stretched Danny Ward. Goalscorer Clarke could’ve doubled his personal tally from the resulting corner as the men in red fail to clear their lines; luckily though Ward was more than equal to Clarke’s shot on the half-turn.
The Terriers had a flurry of chances from here on in; Jack Payne picked up the pieces from a Ward long ball before positively driving towards the box; all his hard work coming undone by a wicked deflection however. Deflections were aplenty as Aaron Mooy was next to try his luck, again having to settle for a corner. By this point the visitors had begun to impose themselves on the game, with PNE proving Christopher Schindler hard to get by as the German impressively won a series of aerial bouts.
Huddersfield Town hadn’t won at Deepdale since November 1969; and that run looked set to continue as Alex Baptiste did eventually hand Simon Grayson’s outfit with that elusive second goal. Paul Gallagher was yet again the man to provide the assist, this time another swung in delivery which Town couldn’t deal with; Baptiste climbing highest in the penalty area to steepen the hill that the Terriers had to climb if they were to come away from the Red Rose County with any sort of result.
The introductions of Nahki Wells and Harry Bunn provided the 2,000 or so Town fans with that added bit of confidence going into the second period, but that confidence all but disappeared minutes in as Paul Gallagher got in on the act himself. The Scotsman’s free-kick eluded the mass of players within the penalty area to sneak into Ward’s far left-hand corner; 3-0 with 35 minutes to play.
The third North End goal almost kick-started Town into life; Harry Bunn’s energetic burst into the box was turned behind, before the same player saw an effort parried away by home stopper Maxwell. Tommy Smith very nearly gave the away side a lifeline, but once more a brave block by a Preston defender diverted his effort wide on what was a tough night for David Wagner’s men.
Nahki Wells headed home a consolation late on from Christopher Schindler’s knock down, but the damage had already been done as Paul Gallagher’s right footed deliveries tormented the Huddersfield defence and condemned them to back to back defeats.
Town line-up (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 46'), Jack Payne , Sean Scannell (Kasey Palmer 67'); Elias Kachunga (Nahki Wells 46')
Joel Coleman, Dean Whitehead, Martin Cranie, Michael Hefele