Huddersfield Town kicked-off the 2020/21 pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win over West Yorkshire rivals Bradford City at the John Smith’s Stadium.
After Dylan Mottley-Henry had given the visitors an early lead, a Karlan Grant strike and an own goal completed the turnaround as Town began pre-season with victory in Carlos Corberán’s first game in charge.
The second half was particularly eye-catching from Town's youngsters, who outplayed Bradford City for most of the half.
Exactly 35 days on from Town’s final outing of the previous campaign, the Terriers’ pre-season schedule got underway with the visit of the Bantams, as preparations continue for the start of the 2020/21 season.
Carlos Corberán named a strong line-up for his first game in the home dugout at the John Smith’s Stadium, that was captained by Alex Pritchard and included new signing Danny Ward.
When referee Andy Madley got Town’s pre-season underway, the Terriers were immediately tasked with producing a response after a Bradford City opener inside the first 60 seconds courtesy of Dylan Mottley-Henry who guided a first-time effort into the net.
After former Town man Lee Novak headed wide with the Bantams eyeing a quickfire early double, the Terriers hit back with their first chance of the game on 11 minutes.
Danny Ward marked his return to the Club by linking up with Karlan Grant who wasted no time in opening his pre-season account, taking the ball in his stride before finding the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Despite the game being an early pre-season encounter, it certainly didn’t lack energy or initiative with both sides continuing to create chances.
Having spent last season on loan at Derby County, Ben Hamer was kept busy on his return to HD1, whilst Juninho Bacuna had a goal-bound free-kick blocked by the Bantams’ wall at the other end.
Grant then thought he had doubled his tally for Town after his close-range effort made its way in off the bar, only for play to be brought back due to an infringement in the build-up by Ward.
The Bantams were continuing to provide a test for Town’s defence in the first 45 minutes, with Richard Stearman having to stay alert to clear off the line, moments before Novak headed over for the visitors.
Having finished the previous campaign later in the year with Cardiff City due to the Bluebirds’ play-off run, Ward only featured in the first 30 minutes on his return, before being replaced by Steve Mounié on the half-hour mark who went close almost instantly from a corner after a good knock-down from Stearman.
The Benin international had an even better chance to put Town ahead shortly after, following some good work down the right from Josh Koroma who continued to be a bright spark for the Terriers as the minutes ticked towards half-time, but Mounié could only find the goalkeeper with his first-time effort after he was found inside the box by the latter.
Typical of a pre-season encounter, Corberán made wholesale changes at the break, with several members of Town’s newly formed B Team, along with players from the Under-19s squad, coming on at half-time.
Along with Mounié, a first half substitute, young midfielder Josh Austerfield stayed in the XI for the beginning of the second 45 off the back of an impressive half in a defensive midfield role.
Now forming a part of the midfield three with Matty Daly, who was playing for the first time since signing a new contract with the Club recently, the pair combined well as Town took the lead midway through the second half.
Moments after Daly had produced a superb ball that had put Micah Obiero through on goal, albeit on the stretch, the young midfielder turned goalscorer to reward an impressive start to the second half from a young Town side.
Austerfield broke up play in the middle of the pitch and fed Daly who linked up well with Mounié before seeing his powerful low cross from the left side of the box diverted past Bradford ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell by a Bantams defender.
At the other end, young Town ‘keeper Jacob Chapman was called into action for the first time since replacing Hamer at half-time, producing a smart double save to preserve the recently-taken lead.
The young Town side were continuing to impress at the John Smith’s Stadium and went close to extending the lead as Brahima Diarra attempted to get in on the act but his low driven strike from the edge of the box was gathered by the ‘keeper in the centre of the goal.
In Town’s defensive side of the game, centre-back Mustapha Olagunju was continuing to show solidity at the back as the Terriers looked to see the game out.
The 18-year-old confidently threw himself in-front of a goal-bound effort from the Bantams in the closing stages, a strike that turned out to be the final real chance of the game as the Terriers kicked-off pre-season with a West Yorkshire derby victory on home soil.
Next up for Town is the visit of Manchester United’s Under-23s side for another pre-season friendly at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday 29 August 2020; 3pm kick-off.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-3-3)
First half XI: Ben Hamer; Jaden Brown, Harry Toffolo, Richard Stearman, Demeaco Duhaney; Josh Austerfield, Alex Pritchard (c), Juninho Bacuna; Karlan Grant, Danny Ward (Steve Mounié, 31’), Josh Koroma
Second half XI: Jacob Chapman; Jaheim Headley, Romoney Crichlow, Mustapha Olagunju, Aaron Rowe; Josh Austerfield, Brahima Diarra, Ben Jackson; Matty Daly, Steve Mounié (Kian Harratt, 77’), Micah Obiero
Unused subs: Giosue Bellagambi; Patrick Jones