Town made it back-to-back victories in the Premier League with a superb display after overcoming West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the Hawthorns.
After a goalless first 45, Rajiv van La Parra netted just three minutes after the restart to hand Town the lead, with Steve Mounié following suit to make it 2-0 on 56 minutes. Craig Dawson’s header reduced the arrears to ensure a nervy finish, but the Terriers ultimately held on with some exceptional game management to clinch a vital three points.
The first trip to the Baggies’ patch of the Black Country since 2001 – a 1-1 draw in which Andy Booth was the Huddersfield Town goal-scorer – resulted in two changes from last Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup outing against Manchester United. Jonathan Hogg and Alex Pritchard – making his 150th career appearance in all competitions – returned to the starting XI in the respective places of Philip Billing and Tom Ince.
As expected, an electric tempo set the ball rolling, as both sides looked to catch their opposite numbers off guard with early counter attacks.
Rajiv van La Parra turned out to be Town’s early source of pace, and an excel down the left failed to materialise as the killer pass towards Collin Quaner – the furthest man forward at this point – rolled agonisingly in-front of the Big German under pressure from Kieran Gibbs on the cover.
Alan Pardew’s Baggies pressed high, but found a Terriers side in determined mood to build their attacks with neat passages of possession, albeit around the half-way region. Nevertheless, the quality of that possession was there to see, with the hosts proving to be particularly difficult to split with a defining pass to open up a clear opportunity.
Town set about attacking the flanks, with Alex Pritchard missing with a near-post glancing header by a matter of inches from Rajiv van La Parra’s wicked left-sided cross instigated by Florent Hadergjonaj’s pin-point cross-field diagonal.
West Brom scarcely ventured forward in the first 20 minutes – only a Solomon Rondón effort blazing over the bar the notable chance – and it would take a perfectly timed Christopher Schindler covering sliding intervention to prematurely halt Matt Phillips’ surge down his native right whilst latching onto Craig Dawson’s splitting ball from the right full-back position.
Skillful play in the centre from a combination of Rondón and Krychowiak saw the latter deliver a deep cross to the far-post aiming for the arriving Jay Rodriguez, but the on-loan PSG man put too much weight on the cross, hence resulting in a relieving dead-ball for the Red and Black clad Terriers.
Town defended relatively well from dead-ball situations, concluding in several chances for key breakaways. Pritchard won the ball back before laying to Rajiv van La Parra, and the Dutchman continued to carry all the way to the edge of the opposition box before seeing a cross hesitantly cleared.
The Terriers persisted with a great offensive threat, and would have a magnificent chance to take what would’ve been a thoroughly deserved lead.
Hadergjonaj’s burst down the right saw the Swiss international coolly pull-back towards Alex Pritchard on the penalty spot, and as the ex-Norwich man fired at goal unmarked, it was to be the unlucky figure of Steve Mounié who crucially ended up in the way on the line to block the shot from nestling in the back of the net. As Rajiv van La Parra looked to follow-up on the rebound, Craig Dawson managed to scramble across and relieve the home side of the pressure that an inspired Town outfit was applying in large quantities.
The Baggies’ responded as Matt Phillips had a generous amount of time to pick out a cross, and with West Brom’s looming presence of physicality and height, Salomon Rondón rose highest, but found his header heroically blocked by Mathias Zanka.
As the hosts grew into the contest, arguably the best chance for Alan Pardew’s side came and went in the form of James McClean.
The Irishman thundered a volley over the bar having drifted in without a marker around the far-post after good wing-play from Matt Phillips to work an opening on the by-line; a miss which saw the deadlock firmly poised as the interval beckoned.
Seconds after the restart, Rajiv van La Parra seemed to misjudge a header from Florent Hadergjonaj’s deep centre, as Town looked to gain a quick advantage whilst taking advantage of some sloppy Albion possession.
Rajiv may have mis-timed that particular header, but the Dutch winger certainly made no mistake when the next chance came his way.
Excellent hold-up play from Steve Mounié allowed Collin Quaner to receive the ball as chief support with deadly consequences.
Quaner invitingly rolled across the face of goal, and there was that man van La Parra to expertly tuck home beyond Ben Foster – a fifth goal of the season for a player in familiar Black Country surroundings having spent a period at the Baggies’ local rivals, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
That elusive opener arrived courtesy of Steve Mounié’s tremendous movement into the channel; a tactic which continued to work well for the Terriers, as Gibbs and Hegazi struggled to contain the Benin striker’s positional sense which gained Town credible field position to sustain the offensive pressure.
Jonas Lössl’s afternoon had mainly consisted of being alert to claim deliveries authoritatively in and around his six-yard box. However, the Dane would need to show strong palms in the way of experienced midfielder Gareth Barry’s powerful strike from the edge of the area.
As Jonas kept Town’s lead in-tact, Steve Mounié went one better to double that lead at the other end; cueing scenes of unrivalled ecstasy amongst the ever-vocal travelling band of Town supporters at one end of the Hawthorns.
Alex Pritchard’s sensationally incisive pass between the central defensive partnership of Evans and Hegazi caused the home side all sorts of problems after the troublesome Mounié sprung the offside trap before despatching past Foster; a valuable lead for which Town was more than full value.
Although the Terriers had been solid to great extents throughout much of the contest, that looming physical threat which the home side possessed reared its head from an in-swinging Chris Brunt corner.
Craig Dawson rose highest to nod home on the line to halve the arrears.
A lapse in concentration was very nearly followed up by a spectacular effort from Danny Williams.
The American tried his luck with a speculative volley from easily over 30-yards, and forced Ben Foster into a low diving save. The Baggies cleared their lines as Town probed for a killer third.
Substitute Brunt made somewhat of an important impact on the Baggies’ morale. Another left-footed set-piece kept Jonas Lössl on his toes to parry away for a corner, of which nothing would come about.
As Laurent Depoitre was introduced for the impressively industrious Alex Pritchard, the Belgian had a key hand in a chance which ultimately went begging.
Danny Williams nipped in ahead of Livermore and drove forward with intent, but instead of playing in the advancing Quaner to his right, Danny this time couldn’t hit the target from distance.
Van La Parra already had one to his name, and was urgent to add to his tally. A magical run took out two West Brom defenders, and a shot low to the near-post saw Foster make an important smart save with his right boot to keep the score-line at 2-1 for the time being at least.
On the break, home replacement Oliver Burke beared down on goal after good hold-up play from West Brom’s own front-man, Rondón, and found a resilient Terence Kongolo in his path with a sliding tackle to end that specific threat.
As four added minutes commenced, it was fair to say that it was backs-against-the-wall for the Terriers, who had marshalled their hosts with a supreme degree of composure and solidity. The late storm would nonetheless be weathered, as Town left the West Midlands with three crucial Premier League points.
TOWN (4-2-3-1): Jonas Lössl; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka, Florent Hadergjonaj (Tommy Smith, 52′); Jonathan Hogg (c), Danny Williams; Rajiv van La Parra (Tom Ince, 89′), Alex Pritchard (Laurent Depoitre, 77′), Collin Quaner; Steve Mounié
UNUSED SUBS: Joel Coleman, Scott Malone, Dean Whitehead, Abdelhamid Sabiri
WEST BROMWICH ALBION: Ben Foster; Kieran Gibbs, Ahmed Hegazi, Jonny Evans (c), Craig Dawson; James McClean (Chris Brunt, 57′), Grzegorz Krychowiak, Gareth Barry (Jake Livermore, 69′), Matt Phillips (Oliver Burke, 81′); Salomon Rondón, Jay Rodriguez
UNUSED SUBS: Boaz Myhill, Allan Nyom, Claudio Yacob, Gareth McAuley
REFEREE: Jonathan Moss
ATTENDANCE: 25,920 (2,717 Town)