REPORT: WOLVES 0-1 TOWNIzzy Brown capped his return to West Yorkshire by producing the magic moment half-way through the first period, cementing Town's place in the Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs in the process.
Izzy's goal was the tip of the iceberg for the Terriers; another exceptional performance of creativity, determination and desire more than confirmed a well-deserved spot in the end-of-season lottery on a cold Wolverhampton evening, leaving the thoughts of Saturday's humbling by Fulham behind as a distant memory.
Tuesday evening's trip to the West Midlands saw the Terriers make four changes from that defeat; Isaiah Brown replaced Philip Billing to make his first Town start since picking up a knock at Bristol City back in March, along with Sean Scannell coming back into the side at the expense of Joe Lolley. Scannell's starting appearance was to be also his first after a lengthy injury lay-off the first following on from the home game against Wigan Athletic back on November 28. Martin Cranie made his 50th league appearance for 'The Yorkshire Club', in at right-back for Tommy Smith who missed out due to a dead leg, whereas Nahki Wells lead the line ahead of Collin Quaner. Jonathan Hogg took the armband whilst anchoring the midfield with Aaron Mooy behind the returning Izzy Brown - all whilst retaining the usual shape and set-up. Elias Kachunga (calf) joined Tommy Smith on the casualty list and was also absent for the visit to the Black Country.
This re-arranged affair took a short while to fully click into gear; a buoyant Rajiv van La Parra delivered a deep cross to the far post for a yellow shirt to attack, which was only seen behind by Silvio following instant pressure from a re-instated Sean Scannell.
Town looked in a determined mood to avenge the failure to pick up any points last time around, and lived a primed life earlier following the host's first real chance of the encounter.
Austrian international Andreas Weimann served up a fruitful cross for play-maker Dave Edwards who managed to test Danny Ward with a down-ward header; luckily Town's Welsh custodian was more than equal to the threat on this occasion.
Nonetheless, the air of finesse about Town's early display came to the fore moments after the Edwards chance, in the form of Nahki Wells.
After a spot of high gegenpressing to dispossess Danny Batth on the edge of the home side's penalty area, Izzy Brown found an unmarked Wells to the left side of the box in acres of space. Unfortunately for the 682 Town fans in attendance, they would only be directly behind a skied effort from the Bermudian who couldn't guide his attempt into the far corner due after slightly leaning back in the process.
The defensive unit commanded heroically by Schindler and Hefele had especially laid a marker down from the off with tough challenges flying in upon the half-way line, with lone striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson struggling particularly to press the Town back-line on his own, allowing attacks to build neatly throughout the spine of the team.
Cranie was inches from connecting with the ball at the other end following Aaron Mooy's corner delivery to the near post, before the impressive Sean Scannell beat his marker Silvio once more down the Town right to deliver a tantalising cross, only for the winger to see his delivery evade the arriving cavalry of fluorescent yellow shirts.
Former Wanderer van La Parra continued to show the Molineux faithful what he was capable of, this time by dancing round Dominic Iorfa before coming up with a low cross which somehow squirmed its way to Nahki Wells. Town's striker managed to crack off an effort on the turn, which was held well down low by last-minute stand-in 'keeper Harry Burgoyne following Andy Lonergan's warm-up withdrawal.
However, following Christopher Schindler's flick over the cross-bar from Chris Loewe's whipped free-kick delivery, Burgoyne would eventually be beaten by an Izzy Brown cracker.
The on-loan Chelsea man's first goal since notching at QPR back in February was built upon a foundation of tenacious work in the tackle by the ever-composed Aaron Mooy. The Australian robbed a Wolves midfielder of possession before slipping the ball to Brown who drove into plenty of space before releasing a deceptively wicked shot into the bottom right-hand corner to edge Town that little bit closer to being safe and sound in the division's top six.
Town's England Under-21 international then turned provider shortly after sending the visitors into the lead by using quick feet and agility to set Nahki Wells on his way, but the Bermudian yet again saw his effort end up wide of the target - keeping him stranded on 49 goals for the Club for the time being at least.
The home side were smarting from a goalless draw with lowly Blackburn in its last outing, and came out of the blocks with a real desire to ensure it found the net on this occasion.
Jack Price led the way, but shanked his effort a far distance from one which could have troubled Danny Ward to any extent. Half-time substitute Joe Mason then had a clear shot on goal, only to find a recovering Christopher Schindler close off the angle reducing Mason's effort to finding the side netting - a trademark defensive manoeuvre from the German who has established himself as one of Town's key components within the defensive ranks.
A particularly twitchy moment for the Terriers occurred shortly after the Mason chance; firstly Andreas Weimann saw his effort parried away by superbly strong wrists from Danny Ward, with Dave Edwards unable to find the net on the follow-up by only managing to see his effort cannon back off the post.
Town took heed to the warning of the home side's offensive capabilities, with Izzy Brown hungry to add a vital second and provide relative breathing space to the score-line. Brown, playing in the number 10 role, blasted an effort high and wide to the relief of a retreating home back-line.
Collin Quaner replaced Sean Scannell just before the hour mark and instantly caused panic; a risky Jack Price back-pass only just reached Harry Burgoyne on his third start for Wolves, with Collin making up many yards within seconds due to his long, galloping strides to miss with any blocking contact by millimetres.
Town continued to imperatively repel the home side and avoid any repeat of a late Derby-esque leveller; Schindler the first to clear his lines following young Gibbs-White's advances into the danger area, before Michael Hefele yet again denied a passage into Town six-yard box, this time from Jordan Graham - the man who came off the bench for Paul Lambert's men after several months out with a serious injury.
After nullifying any sort of threat from Wanderers, the Terriers saw the game out in relatively calm fashion. Additionally, Quaner could've doubled Town's lead having excellently turned his marker only to see a tame effort comfortably saved in the centre of the goal; a period of play which saw Harry Bunn take to the field having made his last league appearance at Wigan back on January 2.
Quaner rounded off the evening by seeing another potentially goal-bound effort blocked by the home-side's stand-out performer Danny Batth, but all in all it wasn't to of any importance as Izzy Brown's first half belter ensured that Town's season will be extended just that little bit longer.
Town's Team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Loewe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Martin Cranie; Jonathan Hogg (c), Aaron Mooy; Rajiv van La Parra, Isaiah Brown (Harry Bunn, 71'), Sean Scannell (Collin Quaner, 58'); Nahki Wells (Philip Billing, 90')
Joel Coleman, Mark Hudson, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Dean Whitehead
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