Despite a valiant second-half display, Huddersfield Town were beaten 2-1 by Bristol City in the Sky Bet Championship.
Two goals in the space of four first-half minutes from Famara Diédhiou had put the hosts two goals ahead before the break.
Juninho Bacuna pulled one back for the Terriers after the interval but even with a strong pursuit of a comeback, which included hitting the woodwork four times across the 90 minutes, Town came away from the encounter at Ashton Gate empty-handed.
Carlos Corberán made one change to the side that faced Millwall nearly a week earlier, with Isaac Mbenza coming into the Spaniard’s starting XI in place of the injured Danny Ward.
It meant that Pipa started on his 23rd birthday and Lewis O’Brien made the 100th league start of his career whilst new signing Sorba Thomas was included in Town’s match day squad for the first time, taking up the place vacated by Ward’s absence.
It was the Terriers who registered the first opportunity of the encounter. O’Brien, on his milestone outing, drove through the hosts’ defence before his low strike was well tipped onto the post by Robins ‘keeper Dan Bentley.
But after a sustained period of pressure at the other end, Bristol City got their reward for the better of the starts at Ashton Gate.
Alfie Mawson’s through ball was cleverly dummied into the path of Famara Diédhiou who kept his composure to go round Ryan Schofield and place the ball into an empty net.
The Senegalese forward had his, and the Robins’, second less than four minutes later. Having been found in behind by Kasey Palmer’s pass, Diédhiou’s strike across goal went in off the post to double the hosts’ lead on 26 minutes.
What followed in the period up until the half was a positive spell going forward for Town. Naby Sarr headed narrowly wide from a corner before another delivery in the moments leading up to half-time saw Álex Vallejo have a volley that had bounced up off the ground cleared off the line and onto the bar by Jack Hunt.
Just before the break, a neat exchange between Harry Toffolo and Pipa nearly saw the former get the Terriers back into the encounter.
Toffolo, donning the captain’s armband for Town again, drove a strike into the side netting after he was found by his full-back counterpart with a through ball into the centre of the box.
Town picked up in the second half where they had left off in the first with a flurry of early chances after the interval.
After O’Brien had a goal-bound strike blocked, Toffolo again hit the side-netting with another right-footed strike following a corner from the left.
The Terriers’ perseverance paid off shortly before the hour, however, as they found a way back into the game.
Mbenza backheeled Rolando Aarons’ ball across the goal into the path of Juninho Bacuna who found the net with his second goal of the campaign to make it 2-1 on 59 minutes.
Moments later, Fraizer Campbell nearly drew Town level. The forward connected with Toffolo’s drifted cross from the left, but his effort on the stretch went narrowly wide of the near post.
Corberán’s side couldn’t have gone closer to an equaliser shortly after the 70-minute mark. Having already hit the woodwork earlier in the evening, Vallejo ran onto a ball from the right and saw his curling effort from range cannon back off the crossbar.
As the clock ticked into the final five minutes of the encounter, Bacuna spectacularly attempted to get Town level with a half-volley from around 25 yards out that needed a good stop from Bentley between the sticks for the Robins to keep it out.
In stoppage time, a driven effort from Pipa deflected off Campbell and beat the keeper but flicked off the wrong side of the post and went behind for a goal-kick as Town went agonisingly close to an equaliser in the final moments.
The final whistle sounded soon after with the Terriers’ comeback efforts in vain at Ashton Gate, as the hosts held firm to claim all three points.
Next up for Town is a return to the John Smith’s Stadium to face Stoke City in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday 30 January 2020; 3pm kick-off.
BRISTOL CITY (4-4-2)
Dan Bentley; Tommy Rowe (Jack Hunt, 41’), Alfie Mawson, Tomáš Kalas, Adrian Mariappa; Kasey Palmer (Taylor Moore, 80’), Tyreeq Bakinson, Zak Vyner, Antoine Semenyo; Nahki Wells (Ádám Nagy, 64’), Famara Diédhiou (Chris Martin, 64’)
Max O’Leary; James Morton, Sam Bell, Owura Edwards, Han-Noah Massengo
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-3-3)
Ryan Schofield; Harry Toffolo (c), Naby Sarr, Richard Keogh, Pipa; Álex Vallejo (Alex Pritchard, 73’), Lewis O’Brien, Juninho Bacuna; Rolando Aarons (Kieran Phillips, 81’), Fraizer Campbell, Isaac Mbenza
Joel Pereira; Demeaco Duhaney, Sorba Thomas, Romoney Crichlow, Aaron Rowe, Pat Jones, Scott High