A first win under Manager Danny Cowley!
A late Juninho Bacuna goal sealed a first Town win under Manager Danny Cowley – and a first since February for the Club – at Stoke City on Tuesday evening.
The late winner from the substitute was the icing on the cake of a resilient away performance from the Terriers, with real grit shown to keep the Potters at bay before the Curacao international netted in front of the travelling faithful.
It felt poetic that Bacuna was the goal-scorer, given that he netted a bizarre own goal at the bet365 Stadium on his competitive debut for the Club just over a year ago. On this occasion he scored at the right end, latching onto a pass from fellow substitute Adama Diakhaby before gleefully smashing home from close range.
That sparked wild celebrations between fans and players, with the lads completing the job in composed fashion.
The game was a real battle before that special moment, although Town starting the first half very brightly.
The best chance of the game came inside five minutes through a gilt-edged chance that fell to Elias Kachunga.
The move originated down the left, where Lewis O’Brien played a fantastic pass inside right back Cameron Carter-Vickers to set Karlan Grant into space. Karlan squared up the full back before going on the outside and pulling the ball back behind Fraizer Campbell, where Kachunga had joined up from the right wing.
Unfortunately, Kache got his left-footed shot all wrong from a glorious position just seven yards out, shanking the ball well wide of target with the goal gaping.
Gradually, the home side began to enjoy more possession, although it led to only two chances of note.
The best came two minutes before the interval when Carter-Vickers was worked into space on the touchline. The American whipped in a great cross that found the head of the unmarked Joe Allen at the back post, who had ghosted into the box late, but the diminutive Welshman put his effort comfortably over the crossbar.
Former Town man Tom Ince had previously pulled a snapshot well wide from the edge of the box, and otherwise it was a real stalemate. Stoke forced a fair few corners in the opening 45 minutes, but on almost every occasion it was the head of Tommy Elphick who rose impressively to clear the ball.
Carter-Vickers hit a volley over the bar and Sam Clucas fired over from range as Stoke tried to press matters upon the restart, but the Terriers kept their foothold in the game as the minutes ticked by.
It was on the hour mark that the near 1,000 travelling fans started to crank up the noise, realising their team had a chance to record that long-awaited win.
When the goal came, it was worth the wait. The never-say-die attitude of Lewis O’Brien started the move; he won the ball from Allen before moving it quickly to Bacuna. Juninho kept the ball rolling to Diakhaby on the right and the Frenchman drove forward before returning the favour.
Juninho burst onto the ball and past the final defender to approach the goal on the angle before hammering a piledriver between Federici and the near post to put his side ahead.
Diakhaby had made an impact from the bench for a second successive game and he soon tested the home goalkeeper with a well-hit volley from range that needed saving at the near post.
Stoke tried to find a way back into the game as five minutes were added, but Cowley’s men saw the game out well, with every man playing his part. Credit to new boy Danny Simpson, who played a big part as he completed a second 90 minutes in just three days on the back of no pre-season.
Town’s team (4-3-3)
Kamil Grabara; Jaden Brown, Christopher Schindler (c), Tommy Elphick, Danny Simpson; Lewis O’Brien, Jonathan Hogg, Trevoh Chalobah (Juninho Bacuna, 73’); Karlan Grant, Fraizer Campbell (Isaac Mbenza, 62’), Elias Kachunga (Adama Diakhaby, 54’)
Ryan Schofield; Steve Mounié, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Florent Hadergjonaj
Danny Simpson (65’); Jonathan Hogg (89’)