Huddersfield’s misses let Saints cling on
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