Town kicked off its two-game pre-season tour of Austria in winning ways as Steve Mounié headed home right at the death to secure a 2-1 win for the Terriers over Serie A side FC Bologna.
David Wagner’s side welcomed back Danish defender Mathias Zanka for his first start of pre-season as he partnered captain for the day Christopher Schindler at the heart of defence. Having scored a brace in last Wednesday’s 3-1 win against Olympique Lyonnais, Laurent Depoitre started the game up top and it was he who got proceedings underway in Brixen im Thale.
After a slow start, the game sprung into life through Florent Hadergjonaj – who was celebrating his 24th birthday – as he won a penalty for the Terriers inside the opening 10 minutes. Philip Billing played an inviting diagonal ball that landed perfectly over the Bologna defence and at the feet of ‘Flo’.
The Full-Back epitomized the ‘Terriers Identity’ as he quickly reacted to win the ball back - after his initial control had bounced away from him - and was subsequently brought down to win a penalty for his side.
Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy was tasked with beating the ‘keeper from 12-yards and he made no mistake firing under the Bologna keeper - who was diving low to his right - to give the Terriers the goal advantage.
Town’s energy from the midfield quintet was causing Bologna issues as they could only bring Philip Billing down after a powerful driving run through the heart of midfield to earn his side a free-kick. Mooy crossed the subsequent set-piece but it didn’t materialise into anything significant as the Italian side cleared.
Having played a key role in earning Town’s penalty, Philip Billing was again causing danger. This time the Dane launch a long throw into the Bologna box which was met by Christopher Schindler who saw his flicked header go narrowly wide of the mark.
Adama Diakhaby joined the Terriers with a reputation of possessing bags of pace and he helped create a dangerous situation for Town on the half-hour mark. With Town successfully defending a corner, the ball fell to Alex Pritchard who played Diakhaby through on the break.
Town fans got to see the raw pace of the latest signing from Monaco as he drove towards the edge of the area, but the attack was to break down as he couldn’t quite pick out the advancing Hadergjonaj with his pass in-field.
The returning Mathias Zanka was then shown a yellow card – along with Calabresi for Bologna - soon after having been penalized for pushing each other as Town prepared to deliver a free-kick. Town subsequently worked a smart set-piece that saw Alex Pritchard released to the right of the area, but he couldn’t muster a dangerous delivery as his cross went behind.
Bologna hadn’t seen much in terms of chances right up until on the stroke of half-time. After an initial corner was cleared by Town, the ball fell kindly on the edge of the area to Krafth who fired his effort well over Ben Hamer’s crossbar.
Half-time arrived and Town was to change almost the entirety of the starting XI with Christopher Schindler, Aaron Mooy and Ramadan Sobhi the only survivors.
Bologna came out looking for a way back into the game and they had a good chance with a free-kick 25 yards from goal, Jon Stanković guilty of the foul on this occassion. Pulgar stepped up for Bologna but fired his effort straight into the Town wall before it was cleared.
The Italian side would draw level 10 minutes into the second-half as Jonas Lössl saw his pass into midfield land straight at the feet of a Bologna player. Falcinelli was sent through on goal by a teammate and made no mistake drawing the game level with a neat finish under the ‘keeper.
With the scores level, there was confusion amongst the Town backline as Jonas Lössl was penalized for picking up a back pass; granting Bologna with an indirect free-kick inside the area. But Town’s defensive ranks held firm as Ramadan Sobhi threw himself in front of the shot to keep the scores level.
Substitute Rajiv van La Parra was getting in good areas down the Town left and had a couple of chances for his side. Most notably as Chris Löwe’s overlapping run created a decoy, Rajiv cut in field and fired a powerful shot towards the near post that the ‘keeper was able to smother.
The next big chance for Town fell for Steve Mounié who was positioned perfectly to latch onto a Chris Löwe cross, but the Benin forward sent his header agonizingly over the bar.
With the game ticking into added time, Town would get the winner. That combination of Löwe & Mounié, which created Town’s last notable chance, would work to deadly effect. ‘Lowey’ delivered a free-kick from the left flank that perfectly picked out Mounié as he rose above everyone to powerfully head home.
Town’s final pre-season game takes place this Friday 3 August when David Wagner’s side face RB Leipzig in the second game of the Austria tour.
Town’s First-Half Team (4-2-3-1):
Ben Hamer; Terence Kongolo, Mathias Zanka, Christopher Schindler (c), Florent Hadergjonaj; Philip Billing, Aaron Mooy; Ramadan Sobhi, Alex Pritchard, Adama Diakhaby; Laurent Depoitre
Town’s Second-Half Team (4-2-3-1):
Jonas Lössl; Chris Löwe, Jon Stanković, Christopher Schindler (Rarmani Edmonds-Green, 82’), Tommy Smith (c); Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Mooy (Juninho Bacuna, 67’); Rajiv van La Parra, Elias Kachunga (Lewis O’Brien, 87’), Ramdan Sobhi (Abdelhamid Sabiri, 67’); Steve Mounié