VAN’S THE MAN TO DRIVETERRIERSON

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Brook

TEAMS that achieve pro­mo­tion from the Championship aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the most at­trac­tive sides, but al­ways know how to grind out wins, what­ever of the sit­u­a­tion.

Hud­der­s­field prob­a­bly are the most pleas­ing on the eye in the divi­sion but, after stum­bling against New­cas­tle last week, they have since ground out vic­to­ries home and away.

And their lat­est ef­fort was, in boss David Wag­ner’s words, an­other “mas­sive three points” after Ra­jiv van La Parra scored the game’s only goal, as Har­lee Dean di­verted his shot past Daniel Bentley.

Wag­ner said: “Give the goal to Ra­jiv; he doesn’t score so of­ten. It was great move­ment and a good strike. We some­times crit­i­cise Ra­jiv’s end prod­uct, but he de­liv­ered. It was a great mo­ment for him.

“I’m so happy with what the boys de­liv­ered with fight and work­ing at­ti­tude.

“In the sec­ond half, other than five min­utes when Brent­ford had some good op­por­tu­ni­ties, I thought we played bet­ter than the first half. We kept them away from our goal.”

New­cas­tle’s loss to Ful­ham erased the im­pact of last week’s de­feat, but Wag­ner in­sisted he was un­af­fected by ei­ther the Mag­pies or Brighton’s re­sults.

He added: “New­cas­tle los­ing is noth­ing we can in­flu­ence. We will be fo­cused on what we can in­flu­ence, which is we pre­pare for Bris­tol City next week. Ev­ery­thing else is so far away that it is not in our fo­cus.”

Hud­der­s­field quickly set­tled into their rhythm, po­si­tional flu­id­ity and high-en­ergy press­ing that has lifted them to third in the ta­ble, and Bentley needed the full length of his fin­ger­tips to stop Jack Payne’s early ef­fort.

Bentley could do noth­ing about the open­ing goal though, as Dean flung him­self into the path of van La Parra’s shot and ma­rooned the help­less goal­keeper.

Brent­ford boss Dean Smith said his side dropped too deep in the first half, al­low­ing the Ter­ri­ers to con­trol the game, es­pe­cially cen­trally where the nar­row wingers, deep-ly­ing striker and cen­tral-mid­field trio all swarm like bees.

Nahki Wells came close three times to dou­bling the lead, first hit­ting the post, then shoot­ing over after Elias Kachunga’s skill, and after the break Dean took the ball off his toe with the goal gap­ing. The game was typ­i­cal Hud­der­s­field this sea­son. Only one of their 22 vic­to­ries has been achieved by more than a one-goal mar­gin and the two key rea­sons for this – res­o­lute de­fence and an in­abil­ity to kill teams off – were both ap­par­ent.

Their shaki­est spell came early in the sec­ond half with Lasse Vibe blaz­ing a glo­ri­ous chance over from six yards out and seeing his shot clip the bar after Christo­pher Schindler’s de­flec­tion.

But, there­after, Brent­ford were kept at arm’s length and Smith was right to point out his side had plenty of en­deav­our, but also lacked qual­ity in the fi­nal third.

Smith said: “We’ve had enough chances to get some­thing out of the game. We gave it a go, cer­tainly at the start of the sec­ond half.

“We looked a lit­tle bit flat­ter than we have done in re­cent weeks, but the play­ers keep giv­ing me all they’ve got and it just didn’t drop for us.

“Hud­der­s­field are having a great sea­son and you can see why they’re up there, but I don’t think we’re too far away. Goal dif­fer­ence is some­times a pointer for me and they’re plus eight and we’re plus two.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

MY GOAL: Ra­jiv van La Parra cel­e­brates scor­ing with man­ager David Wag­ner. In­set: Brent­ford’s Daniel Bentley saves from Hud­der­s­field’s Jack Payne

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