A 90th minute goal from Lukas Jutkiewicz condemned Huddersfield Town to a 2-1 defeat against Birmingham City at the St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.
The Terriers had looked to have rescued a point late on after Isaac Mbenza’s free-kick had cancelled out Gary Gardner’s opener late on, but the Blues restored their lead in the final minutes to ensure that Town would leave the Midlands empty-handed.
Head Coach Carlos Corberán made three changes to the starting XI from Saturday’s defeat to Preston North End.
Carel Eiting, Adama Diakhaby and Josh Koroma all returned at St Andrew’s as the Terriers looked to get back to winning ways on a chilly mid-Autumn evening in the Midlands.
Donning the red away kit for the midweek encounter, Town had the majority of the ball in the early goings but were made to work hard for any sightings at an opening as the hosts showed their solidity in the defensive phase from the off.
That platform sprung the game’s first barrage of opportunities in the Blues’ favour, with Scott Hogan twice trying his luck to no avail before Ben Hamer was well positioned to stop George Friend’s firm attempt on goal.
Those attacks appeared to open the game up after a hard-fought start, with Town soon going close at the other end through Fraizer Campbell who saw what would have been a spectacular opener drift inches over the bar.
After a good spell for Town attacking the Tilton Road End of the ground, it was the visitors who found the way through at the opposite end.
Gary Gardner connected with a free-kick whipped in from a deep position on the right to give the Blues a 27th minute lead.
Another hosts’ set piece caused further danger moments later Jérémie Bela latched on to a ball in from the left, hitting the post with his effort before Richard Stearman cleared the rebound off the line.
Attempting to unlock the Blues’ robust defensive shape, Town had their best opportunity of the game so far in the closing moments of the half.
Josh Koroma connected with Juninho Bacuna’s lofted delivery into the penalty area after it had beat ‘keeper Neil Etheridge but headed wide from a tight angle.
After the break, it was Koroma at the forefront of Town’s drive for an equaliser once more. The forward cut in from the left side and unleashed a powerful effort that cannoned back off the crossbar.
As was the same in the first half, the Terriers continued to see plenty of the ball but were being frustrated by an organised Birmingham side.
Campbell, who found the net in both fixtures against the Blues last term, was looking to add to his record against the same opposition, but miscued a strike from the edge of the penalty area after the ball had been worked in his direction.
With just five minutes left on the clock, Town got their reward for continued perseverance in the hosts’ half.
After some tricky feet from Pipa on the edge of the box, substitute Isaac Mbenza stepped up to plant the free-kick past Etheridge and into the net to draw the Terriers level.
The forward’s late heroics were in vain however, as Lukas Jutkiewicz’s effort shortly before nine minutes of stoppage time but the hosts back in-front against the run of play.
The Birmingham forward was in the right place at the right time to place the rebound into an empty net after Jonathan Leko’s original effort had come back off the bar.
The Terriers attempted to rally in the added on time and went closest through Christopher Schindler but the hosts held on to claim all three points from the midweek encounter.
Next up for Town is a trip to The Den to face Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday 31 October 2020; 3pm kick-off.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-5-1)
Neil Etheridge; George Friend, Harlee Dean, Marc Roberts, Maxime Colin; Jérémie Bela, Ivan Šunjić (Adam Clayton, 66’), Mikel San José, Gary Gardner (Jonathan Leko, 79’), Iván Sánchez; Scott Hogan (Lukas Jutkiewicz, 60’)
Andrés Prieto; Kristian Pedersen, Riley McGree, Josh Dacres-Cogley
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-3-3)
Ben Hamer; Harry Toffolo, Christopher Schindler (c), Richard Stearman, Pipa; Jonathan Hogg (Lewis O’Brien, 57’), Carel Eiting, Juninho Bacuna (Alex Pritchard, 46’); Josh Koroma, Fraizer Campbell, Adama Diakhaby (Isaac Mbenza, 81’)
Joel Pereira; Demeaco Duhaney, Romoney Crichlow, Jaden Brown