Huddersfield Town all but secured Sky Bet Championship safety with a 2-1 win over a promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion side at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Chris Willock had put the Terriers ahead early on against his former club before Dara O’Shea’s equaliser shortly before the break.
Emile Smith Rowe then came off the bench to score the winner in the closing stages and ensure Town would take a massive three points from the final home game of the season.
There were four changes to the Town line-up, none of which came at the back following four clean sheets in the last five games for Danny Cowley’s side.
All four came at the top of the pitch as Andy King, Juninho Bacuna and Chris Willock made up the Terriers’ attacking midfield trio whilst Fraizer Campbell replaced Steve Mounié up-front.
Nearly 12 months after kicking off their Sky Bet Championship campaign on a mild Monday evening at the John Smith’s Stadium, the Terriers got their final home match of the season underway against the Baggies.
Marking the occasion, Town got off the perfect start, scoring as early as they have all season on home soil.
Juninho Bacuna’s dangerous free-kick from the left bounced right in-front of Albion ‘keeper Sam Johnstone and ricocheted back off the goalkeeper into the path of Chris Willock who found the bottom corner on the volley to give Town the lead just four minutes in.
Willock, who spent the first half of the season on loan with the Baggies without making an appearance, looked fired up early on and was causing the visiting defence problems.
A tricky run across the penalty area worked the space for a shot on his left foot that was blocked by a defender, moments before he turned provider for Lewis O’Brien who sliced his effort wide of the target.
A positive start from Town had seen them on the front foot for most of the opening 20 minutes but it didn’t come without its chances at the other end. Ahmed Hegazi stooped highest to meet Matheus Pereira’s free-kick from the left but he couldn’t direct his header towards the goal.
Buoyed by getting that first goal in five so early in the game, Town continued to play with confidence and get into dangerous attacking areas.
After Willock was again involved, this time winning the ball back, Fraizer Campbell had his first sight at goal of the evening but skewed a left-footed effort wide of the posts.
As the game ticked past the half-hour mark, the visitors began to grow into the game and looked to get on the scoresheet themselves with a succession of free-kicks whipped into the box.
After several unsuccessful deliveries, the Baggies did find the net from a set-piece shortly before half-time.
Pereira’s free-kick from the right was pushed away from goal by Jonas Lössl with Dara O’Shea on hand to find the net with the rebound to level the scores.
The Baggies’ attacking midfielder was continuing to look lively after the interval and was involved in the first few real chances of the second half too.
After having an effort blocked by Richard Stearman moments earlier, he twice attempted to get the go-ahead goal, firing a powerful drive at Lössl before heading the rebound over after the ball had come back to him on the run.
With the minutes ticking by, Town were showing the resilience that had yielded four clean sheets in five going into the game, making the visitors work hard for their openings.
Trevoh Chalobah timed his tackle well to dispossess substitute Filip Krovinović inside the box with the ball falling to fellow half-time change Kamil Grosicki who tried to catch Lössl out with a chip but the Town ‘keeper was alert to it.
Lössl was again in action soon after, getting down to his left to gather Callum Robinson’s scuffed effort, keeping the scores level.
Having absorbed the pressure at one end, Town sprung out on the break and got the game’s third goal to re-take the lead with just over five minutes left to play.
O’Brien shrugged off a challenge before finding the run of substitute Emile Smith Rowe who brilliantly took the ball in his stride before finding the bottom corner with a finish that sparked scenes of celebration both on the pitch and on the touchline.
Danny Cowley’s side had to work hard in their shape to stay robust and hold on to the lead despite six minutes of added on time, but the Terriers saw the game out to secure a huge three points and all but confirm Sky Bet Championship safety with a game to spare.
Next up for Town is the final game of the Terriers’ Sky Bet Championship season against Millwall at The Den on Wednesday 22 July 2020; 7.30pm kick-off.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-2-3-1)
Jonas Lössl; Harry Toffolo, Christopher Schindler (c), Richard Stearman, Trevoh Chalobah; Lewis O’Brien, Jonathan Hogg; Juninho Bacuna (Karlan Grant, 71’), Andy King (Emile Smith Rowe, 71’), Chris Willock (Elias Kachunga, 80’); Fraizer Campbell (Steve Mounié, 63’)
Joel Coleman; Alex Pritchard, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Jaden Brown, Demeaco Duhaney
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-2-3-1)
Sam Johnstone; Conor Townsend (Darnell Furlong, 59’), Ahmed Hegazi, Semi Ajayi, Dara O’Shea; Romaine Sawyers, Jake Livermore (Filip Krovinović, 46’); Grady Diangana (Callum Robinson, 75’), Matheus Pereira, Matt Phillips (Kamil Grosicki, 46’); Hal Robson-Kanu (Charlie Austin, 59’)
Jonathan Bond; Kyle Bartley, Chris Brunt, Rekeem Harper