Development Squad wins; goals from Pyke, Kane & Bojaj
- 13th consecutive win for HTAFC Under-21s
- Rekeil Pyke, Danny Kane & Flo Bojaj score
- Highlights on HTTV
Huddersfield Town’s Under-21 side started 2016 as it finished last year – with a win!
However, Frankie Bunn’s Development Squad was made to work hard for its 13th straight win in all competitions by a physical and well organised visitors Hull City at PPG Canalside.
Hull arrived as one of only two sides to beat Town’s Under-21s in competitive action so far in 2015/16 and started brightly, rocking the young Terriers with a goal inside four minutes. A good cross was sent in from the Town right and although left back Jack Senior initially held off Hull winger Will Annan, the away player managed to muscle his way onto the ball before prodding a shot past Lloyd Allinson’s left side.
Town eventually played their way into the game, but it still took an excellent block tackle from centre back Danny Kane to deny another Hull player a clear shot at goal when very well positioned around 15 yards out in the 16th minute.
Irish Under-19 international Kane was soon in action at the other end, getting on the end of Regan Booty’s free kick into the Hull area only to plant his header straight at a defender when unchallenged.
With Philip Billing an increasingly influential figure in the centre of the park, Bunn’s side started to take control of the game and one superb, flowing passing move in the 20th minute ended with Duane Holmes unlucky to see his powerful drive cannon back off the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten.
Danish midfielder Billing then drove at the heart of the Hull defence before sliding a beautiful pass into striker Rekeil Pyke’s path, but the Academy scholar’s first touch didn’t get the ball out of his feet properly and he ended up pushing the ball wide of the target.
Another Billing break handed an opportunity to the overlapping Senior soon after, but the left back drove his shot wide of the near post.
Hull’s Max Clark tested Allinson low to his left side after robbing Duane Holmes of possession in the 28th minute, but the Terriers pulled level barely 60 seconds later. The goal owed much to attacker Ronan Coughlan, who received the ball on the edge of the box with his back to goal and showed tremendous trickery to make the space for a low shot. Although goalkeeper Rory Watson managed to keep that out, striker Rekeil Pyke was on hand to tap home the rebound for his sixth of the Under-21 season.
Allinson was back in action as the next chance fell to Hull Captain Matty Dixon, with the Town goalkeeper diving to his left to keep out a curling effort struck from 20 yards out.
Kyle Dempsey – playing at right back with Assistant Head Coach Christoph Buehler watching on – saw a 39th minute effort deflected just over the bar after a nice infield run to collect a pass inside the area.
Pyke should have had a second with the final action of the first half after a short corner routine resulted in Regan Booty picking him out perfectly at the back post, but somehow Watson spread himself to keep out the striker’s point-blank header and send the teams in level at the interval.
Town then took the lead with the first proper chance of the second half just after the hour mark. A superb passing move set Senior away down the left, only for a defender to clear his low cross behind. From Dempsey’s resulting left-sided corner, Ireland Under-19 centre back Danny Kane pulled cleverly off his marker before heading the ball past the diving goalkeeper for his second goal of the season.
Kane went back to his day job soon after and executed another superb last-ditch challenge to snuff out what looked like a certain equaliser for the hosts as a striker lined up a close range shot.
At the other end, an identical Dempsey corner to Town’s second goal found the head of U21 top scorer Flo Bojaj, but he could only direct his effort over the crossbar.
The result ended up hinging on two big chances in the 78th minute. A good Hull move down the Town left resulted in Allinson pulling off a superb close range reaction save to deny the visitors a second goal and from that, the Terriers broke through substitute Jack Boyle. The Academy scholar advanced before playing Bojaj through on goal and he finished past the goalkeeper in typical fashion for his seventh of the campaign. Hull’s defenders thought the striker was offside, but centre back Harvey Rodgers had played him on.
To their credit, the visitors kept going and reduced the arrears to a single goal with a well worked 82nd minute goal. A move down the Town left pulled Town Captain Joe Wilkinson out of the box and the ball was quickly played to a striker, who hit a superb shot past Allinson and in off the inside of the post.
Hull piled forward in search of an equaliser late on, but Town did enough to withstand the pressure and should have put the game to bed when Boyle put Pyke clear – only for the striker to put his left-footed effort too close to the goalkeeper.
Town’s team (4-4-2 diamond):
Lloyd Allinson; Jack Senior, Joe Wilkinson (c), Danny Kane, Kyle Dempsey; Regan Booty, Philip Billing, Duane Holmes (Jacob Hanson, 80), Ronan Coughlan (Jack Boyle, 68); Flo Bojaj (Jake Charles, 80), Rekeil Pyke
Tadhg Ryan, Fraser Horsfall
Jack Senior (41); Duane Holmes (62)