Hud­der­s­field’s misses let Saints cling on

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Steven Sut­cliffe at the John Smith’s Sta­dium

Still undefeated and still to con­cede a goal – when Hud­der­s­field were pro­moted to the Premier League few would have ex­pected them to scale its sum­mit.

The sea­son is only three games old but in a crack­ling at­mos­phere that was a syn­the­sis of old and new, a goal­less draw against Southamp­ton was enough to pro­long the eu­pho­ria that has swept through this par­ish since May.

It may yet prove their mo­ment in the sun; cer­tainly it is the sort of fix­ture against mid-rank­ing op­po­nents from which they must col­lect max­i­mum points in the fu­ture, es­pe­cially be­fore the winter nights draw in and more cel­e­brated guests ar­rive But it was a Hud­der­s­field show­ing that de­served goals and mer­ited more than a point.

The last time the Ter­ri­ers won their first three matches of a top-flight sea­son they went on to achieve the sec­ond of three con­sec­u­tive league ti­tles. That was in 1924-25. At times this felt like a dif­fer­ent era as the hosts, roused by in­ces­sant chant­ing and a cho­rus of pa­per fan clap­pers, mim­ick­ing the wooden rat­tles of a by­gone era, threat­ened to dis­man­tle the vis­i­tors.

Southamp­ton had served an early warn­ing of the dan­gers at this level in the 11th minute when the ubiq­ui­tous Steven Davis carved the home de­fence open with an ex­quis­ite pass that sent Nathan Red­mond clear.

How­ever, once the winger had stroked his right-footed wide of goal, David Wag­ner’s team as­sumed con­trol, spurn­ing sev­eral out­stand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore the in­ter­val. Fraser Forster and Maya Yoshida were prom­i­nent in a de­fi­ant rear­guard ac­tion that en­dured for much of the game. “Af­ter Southamp­ton had that first good chance we played very well,” Wag­ner said. “We kept them away from our goal, we were very ag­gres­sive, were in their faces and cre­ated very good op­por­tu­ni­ties. If we’d been in front at half-time that would’ve been a fair re­sult but we were not clin­i­cal enough.

“We are proud and happy be­cause of the re­sults, three clean sheets and also be­cause of the per­for­mances. The play­ers have seen now that with every re- sult their con­fi­dence can grow and that even in the Premier League if they fol­low their idea and iden­tity and are brave they have a chance.”

Southamp­ton may have cap­i­talised fully upon the profli­gacy of their hosts. Their hopes died when a Ryan Ber­trand header was cleared off the line by Hud­der­s­field captain Tommy Smith.

The Southamp­ton man­ager, Mauri­cio Pel­le­grino, con­ceded it had been a “tough” af­ter­noon be­fore re­it­er­at­ing the club’s com­mit­ment to re­tain Liver­pool target Vir­gil van Dijk. “I think on the first of Septem­ber Vir­gil will be with us,” he said.

Tight con­test: Hud­der­s­field’s Elias Kachunga in ac­tion against Maya Yoshida

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