Danny Cowley suffered defeat in his first game as Manager of Huddersfield Town following a 2-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in the Sky Bet Championship.
Goals either side of half-time from Steven Fletcher and Sam Winnall ensured the visitors took all three points from the Yorkshire derby at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Huddersfield Town Manager Danny Cowley named a strong starting XI for his first game in charge having been announced as the Club’s new Manager earlier in the week; with Tommy Elphick coming back into the side for his 400th appearance in club football alongside Lewis O’Brien.
Danny, who has been joined at Town by brother and Assistant Manager Nicky, also named Kamil Grabara, Florent Hadergjonaj and Trevoh Chalobah in his first Town XI after the all three represented their respective national sides during the recent international break.
The Cowley brothers were given a warm welcome to HD1 prior to the noon kick-off, before taking their place in the home dugout at the John Smith’s Stadium for the first time.
Their opposite number for the day, Garry Monk, was also taking charge of his first game as Owls’ Manager having also been appointed during the international break.
It was Monk who would have been the happier with the opening 10 minutes at his new Club, after he saw Steven Fletcher head the visitors into the lead. The Scotland international rose high to connect with Kadeem Harris’ cross from the left.
The Town fans had been in full voice at kick-off and continued right through as they rallied behind the Terriers in hope of a quickfire equaliser. They nearly got their wish when Terence Kongolo raced into the box after a one-two with Frazier Campbell, but his half-volley flew over the bar from around 10-yards out.
The game continued to display the conventional elements of a Yorkshire derby with a quick succession of well-timed challenges from Tommy Elphick and Terence Kongolo getting the home crowd going once again.
Town looked to shift from defence to attack a lot quicker in the passage of play that followed; epitomised by Jonathan Hogg’s sprayed pass out to Karlan Grant on the left flank, who darted forward dangerously before a well-timed challenge halted the Terriers’ attack.
Hogg was involved again just moments later, slicing over from a clearance that fell to his feet from the edge of the box after Trevoh Chalobah had powered forward well to win the set-piece on the right side.
The game continued to be played around the visitors’ box as Town continued to dominate the ball. Terence Kongolo was getting forward well from his left-back spot and was the latest to try his luck on goal having cut in from the left side, but his weaker foot strike was gathered by Westwood in the Wednesday goal after fumbling originally.
It was then the turn of his fellow full-back Florent Hadergjonaj to get into an attacking area on 37 minutes, finding himself in behind the visiting backline but the Kosovo international couldn’t connect properly with Karlan Grant’s whipped cross from the left.
Having soaked up the pressure in defence, Wednesday put together their first meaningful attack since the opener. An attempted clearance fell to Jacob Murphy who fired over a swerving shot from 25-yards out.
That effort was to be the last of a close first half in which Danny Cowley would have taken several positives from heading into the dressing room, but it was Town who remained narrowly behind.
Off the back of the half-time team talk, Town played with energy and poise in the minutes that followed the interval. Adama Diakhaby provided Town’s first opportunity of the half with a low cross from Frazier Campbell who saw his improvised flick stopped comfortably by Kieren Westwood.
Despite having control of the possession, the visitors continued to hold their lead, prompting Cowley into his first changes on 55 minutes as Juninho Bacuna and Isaac Mbenza replaced Lewis O’Brien and Adama Diakhaby.
Bacuna, fresh from earning his first caps for Curaçao over the international break, nearly added the spark Town needed for a breakthrough, producing a nice piece of skill before cutting the ball back for Terence Kongolo who saw his first time goal-bound effort denied by Westwood diving low to his right.
Town goalkeeper Kamil Grabara had been kept relatively quiet in the opening 65 minutes but had to be alert to stop Adam Reach’s low effort from just inside the area.
Wednesday attacked again moments later but this time they found a way through to double their lead at the John Smith’s Stadium. Substitute Sam Winnall’s glanced header from close range flicked the inside of the post before finding the net to extend the visitors’ advantage.
Danny Cowley then made his third and final substitution of the afternoon soon after with Steve Mounié introduced in place of Frazier Campbell as Town looked to get back into the game in the closing stages.
The visitors kept their composure however, navigating their way through the remainder of the game, ensuring Danny Cowley’s reign began with a 2-0 defeat at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Next up for Town is a trip to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion in the Sky Bet Championship on Sunday 22 September 2019 (noon kick-off).
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-3-3)
Kamil Grabara; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler (c), Tommy Elphick, Florent Hadergjonaj; Lewis O’Brien (Juninho Bacuna, 55’), Jonathan Hogg, Trevoh Chalobah; Karlan Grant, Fraizer Campbell (Steve Mounié, 77’), Adama Diakhaby (Isaac Mbenza, 55’)
Ryan Schofield, Elias Kachunga, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Jaden Brown
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-2-3-1)
Kieren Westwood; Liam Palmer, Julian Börner, Dominic Iorfa, Moses Odubajo; Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson; Kadeem Harris (Kieran Lee, 85’), Adam Reach, Jacob Murphy (Sam Winnall, 60’); Steven Fletcher (Atdhe Nuhiu, 82’)
Cameron Dawson, Morgan Fox, Massimo Luongo, David Bates