REPORT: TOWN 1-0 WOLVES
Town showed great focus and belief to beat a resilient Wolverhampton Wanderers side at the John Smith’s Stadium this afternoon, with Nahki Wells’ 13th goal of the season sealing the first consecutive wins under David Wagner.
Jamie Paterson came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first 45 minutes by hitting the post from range, but the Terriers had to keep Wolves at bay for 15 minutes in the second half before the Bermudian – who missed a big chance minutes earlier – stepped up to slam home James Husband’s cross in the 79th minute to seal the win.
Town controlled the ball for large spells of the first half, racking up 68% possession, but neither side hit the target with a shot. Philip Billing – making a third successive start for the first time in his young career – looked right at home alongside Jonathan Hogg to stop Wolves breaking on several occasions, whilst moving forward the impressive Husband and Smith offered good width.
At the other end, Lynch and Hudson were kept honest by the pace and aerial prowess of Icelandic striker Bjorn Sigurdarson.
Paterson’s effort came in the 24th minute; he stepped inside from the right and took aim from around 20 yards out, with his low drive cannoning off the outside of Carl Ikeme’s post before rolling dead.
At the other end, Wolves’ biggest threat was pacey winger Rajiv van La Parra, who showed good feet to create a couple of crossing chances that Town dealt with.
Wolves winger Tommy Rowe blasted one chance wastefully wide after a good touch from Sigurdarson set him momentarily clear of the Town defence, before Lynch showed impressive strength to lever Sigurdarson off the ball as Wolves worked a two-on-one.
The visitors put Town on the back foot after the interval, prompting Wagner to introduce Algerian international Karim Matmour into the game. The January signing went onto have arguably his best performance in a Town shirt to date – and a big role in the winning goal.
The tide turned in Town’s favour soon after. First Joe Lolley drove wide from outside the area before the excellent Husband sprinted clear of right back Iorfa and found Wells unmarked in the penalty area, but his touch let him down when well positioned to score and the chance petered out.
Jed Steer and Husband combined in the Town area in the 74th minute to prevent Wolves scoring; first the goalkeeper tipped away Sigurdarson’s low drive before the left back cleared inches ahead of Joe Mason from the follow-up.
Town fought back, with Matmour beating two defenders on the right edge of the penalty area before flashing a powerful drive just inches wide of the far post.
The goal came minutes later – and it was worth the wait. A flowing move started in the Town half on the right side when Harry Bunn won possession and found Matmour; he drove at the heart of the defence before passing left to fellow sub and home debutant Elvis Manu. The Brighton loanee chose the perfect moment to pass to the overlapping Husband and his low cross, via a deflection, fell to Wells, who smashed home from close range.
Bunn could have doubled the advantage with eight minutes left after he charged down a clearance from centre back Batth and raced clear, but his attempted chip over the advancing Ikeme drifted well wide.
Town did a decent job of keeping possession in the six minutes that were played at the end of the game, but Hudson still had to execute a fine challenge to deny the dangerous Sigurdarson in the area.
The final meaningful action was from Steer, who sprang from his line to clear the ball to safety after Hudson sold him short with a headed back-pass.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; James Husband, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Philip Billing, Jonathan Hogg; Joe Lolley (Elvis Manu, 75), Jamie Paterson (Karim Matmour, 59), Harry Bunn; Nahki Wells (Martin Cranie, 90)
Joe Murphy, Dean Whitehead, Kyle Dempsey, Flo Bojaj
Tommy Smith, James Husband