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Match Reports


4 November 2017

Town had to show a tremendous amount of character to overcome a stubborn West Brom as Rajiv van La Parra's beauty on the brink of half-time opened up the month of November with a bang.

On the eve of celebrating his two-year anniversary as Head Coach of Huddersfield Town, David Wagner made three changes to the side which tasted defeat in the previous outing at Anfield.

Both full-back positions witnessed changes, as Scott Malone and Florent Hadergjonaj- the latter making home Premier League debut for the Club- took the places of Chris Löwe and Tommy Smith respectively. Elias Kachunga replacing Danny Williams rounded off the Terriers' starting alterations for Baggies' visit, who last visited West Yorkshire for an FA Cup in 2010. Rajiv van La Parra overcame fitness doubts to make his 50th Huddersfield Town league start.

Hadergjonaj immediately had to be alert on the defensive end in order to turn away Jay Rodriguez's deep cross; initiated from a determined surge into the Town half following a counter attack stemmed from a loose period of possession.

The resulting corner caused a brief moment of panic as the looming figure of Ahmed Hegazi rose highest at the far post, but the knock-down was swiftly cleared by a non-hesitant Blue and White shirt.

Half a chance came and went in the blink of an eye for the buoyant Terriers; Aaron Mooy's deceptively in-swinging corner somehow managed to avoid the congregation around the penalty area and fall all the way through to Christopher Schindler. The German failed to adjust his feet quick enough which saw a possible opportunity to square the ball unfortunately go un-punished.

That specific chance arose as a result of Scott Malone's persistence down the left hand side. Malone- of Rowley Regis in the Black Country, an area not too far from today's visitor- went someway to repaying the faith shown in him by constantly providing a pacey threat to beat his marker Allan Nyom and reach the by-line.

A Town penalty shout would mould into one of the key talking points of the opening exchanges. Rajiv van La Parra showed excellent awareness to pick up a second ball and drive into the West Brom penalty area. Rajiv's positivity saw the Dutchman draw a challenge from Kieran Gibbs; referee Roger East was quick to adjudge the challenge as fair and wave away the vigourous claims for a spot-kick.

Tom Ince had made a lively start operating in the number 10 role behind Laurent Depoitre, who was leading the line in light of Belgian National Squad call-up earlier in the week.

Incedently, Ince last scored a Premier League goal whilst playing against the visitor for Crystal Palace back in 2014; and the attacker's hunt to find the net began by firing tamely at Ben Foster in a reasonable shooting position on the edge of the area.

Tony Pulis' outfit had to wait until 20 minutes in for it's first real chance. Jay Rodriguez found himself in an alarming amount of space in-behind the Blue and White defensive ranks, but characteristically often throughout his play, Christopher Schindler covered superbly from the left centre-back position to vitally block the attempted curling effort from the former Burnley and Southampton striker.

One of the next high-tempo passages of play culminated in Town going close from a good chance. Firstly Aaron Mooy's wicked delivery was crucially headed away for a corner by Rodriguez, before Tom Ince blasted way off target after steaming onto the ball which had somehow squirmed it's way into an inviting amount of space on the penalty spot.

Ince continued to be involved in the thick of the action by this time aiming to make amends for the previous miss by shooting low and centrally at Foster following a neat swivel to create an opening 20-yards from goal.

Despite the contest not highlighting any major chances for the away side, the livewire of Rodriguez yet again displayed an energetic burst towards the Terriers' back-line, but a relatively quiet Jonas Lössl held comfortably to keep the scores level.

As the interval neared, the deadlock would be broken in sensational fashion. Rajiv van La Parra curled an unstoppable effort with the deadliest of consequences beyond a stricken Ben Foster from a considerable distance. The effort whistled into the top corner via a minor clip of the bar to hand the Terriers a deserved lead; ensuing yet more scenes of utter jubilation amongst the packed out terraces of the rocking John Smith's Stadium.

That strike was the ultimate reward at the end of a period which had seen Town huff and puff to break down the resilient, organised unit of Tony Pulis' Baggies; but nonetheless, Town had matched the opponent superbly in terms of passion, grit, determination and an all-round fight to earn what would be a crucial Premier League three points.

West Brom opened up the second half's proceedings; Rodriguez delivered a cross aiming for strike partner Hal Robson-Kanu, but the Welsh International was efficiently cut off by a strong duo of Zanka and Schindler to ease the pressure.

The eased pressure allowed Town to become composed even further and take a large control of the match in terms of possession. Florent Hadergjonaj's dash to the by-line saw the Danish right-back cut a low cross back aiming for the impressive Laurent Depoitre, but no player in Blue could thump home to double the lead.

Town's hunt for a second would be made substantially more difficult moments later, as Christopher Schindler received a second yellow card for a late challenge on Ahmed Hegazi and was subsequently sent from the field.

Schindy's departure sparked the visiting boss to freshen things up in attack for his side, introducing James McClean, Matt Phillips and Salomon Rondon, whereas Town respond with a double introduction of it's own in the form of Martin Cranie and Danny Williams to shore things up at the back whilst protecting the narrow lead.

West Brom's biggest threat arose from set-piece situations; and one of the Baggies' physical presences, substitute Salomon Rondon, headed narrowly wide from a front-post cross after fellow sub Matt Phillips' accurate corner was superbly punched away by Jonas Lössl.

A man down, Town valiantly battled to ensure that maximum points stayed in West Yorkshire. The supporters were now firmly on their feet in appreciation of the marvellous dogged display which had put the Club in good stead to claim victory over a West Brom side which had set up to provide the Terriers with a frustrating afternoon; but that was far from being the case in the end.

As time trickled on into six minutes of agonising injury time, the tense atmosphere could well have been summed up by the Head Coach urging on the crowd in the Revell Ward lower, but Jonas Lössl epitomised the spirit within the squad by pulling off two miraculous saves.

The Dane firstly clawed away James McClean's downward header following further Albion aerial bombardment, before Scottish International Matt Phillips saw his corner-bound, drilled attempt yet turned round the post by Lössl to effectively ensure that the Baggies returned to the West Midlands without a share of the spoils.

A hard-fought victory which more than made the end of game celebrations that extra bit special as Town fans breathed a huge sigh of relief to see their side get over the winning line. With an International break on the horizon, Town will look to earn back-to-back victories with a trip to AFC Bournemouth in a fortnight's time.

Jonas Lössl; Scott Malone (Chris Löwe, 78'), Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka, Florent Hadergjonaj; Jonathan Hogg (c), Aaron Mooy; Rajiv van La Parra (Danny Williams, 61'), Tom Ince, Elias Kachunga (Martin Cranie, 61'); Laurent Depoitre

Robert Green, Tommy Smith, Collin Quaner, Steve Mounie.

Roger East

24,092 (2,211 West Brom)

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