Late Ince strike is talk of the Town
Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd still enjoying the thrill of being in the Premier League as much in April as they were in August, Huddersfield Town moved three points closer to booking themselves in for another season after substitute Tom Ince’s goal a minute into stoppage time secured a first win in six matches for David Wagner’s team.
Predictably, the John Smiths Stadium erupted with a collective roar of relief. Town went into the match with a cushion between themselves and the bottom three that was still four points thanks to Chelsea’s comeback at Southampton but they knew, with a difficult run-in ahead, that this was their best chance of securing at least one more win.
That was clear in the reaction of the Huddersfield bench, with Wagner running on to the field to celebrate with his players. There was no disguising how significant he felt the moment to be.
“This is one of the biggest games and the biggest results in the recent history of Huddersfield Town,” he said.
“I’m so pleased because the fans were behind us from the first minute to the last and I’m so glad the players were able to give them something to really cheer about. But I was not surprised we scored because these players last season had the experience of finals, semi-finals, play-off penalty shootouts. They know how to deal with this situation.
“This group has mental strength, it has togetherness and desire. This could be enough to secure Premier League status, even if we know we are not the group with the best individuals.”
Yet for long spells it did not look like it would happen. In a poor game, Town were short of quality and did not manage a shot on target in the 90 minutes.
However, just as it seemed certain a point would be their sole reward, the Watford defence switched off, fatally. It was the second time in three matches the Hornets have lost points to goals in stoppage time, having conceded a late equaliser against Bournemouth.
Terence Kongolo, Huddersfield’s left-back, lobbed a pass into the box, Mathias Jorgensen picked it up, wriggled away from his marker, turned the ball across the face of goal with the outside of his boot and Ince slotted home.
It was not at all difficult to see how Wagner’s side had managed only one goal in their previous five matches, nor why Watford have not won away from home since November and haven’t even scored on the road since Jan 2.
Until that late drama, they had never created a better chance than their first of the match, when Aaron Mooy chipped a lovely pass and Collin Quaner was denied only by a well-timed tackle by Craig Cathcart, whose return to the Watford side after a year was one plus point at least for coach Javi Gracia.
There were not many. “It is a cruel game,” bemoaned Gracia. Especially for anyone watching, one was tempted to reply. Huddersfield won’t care a jot. Huddersfield Town (4-2-3-1): Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo; Mooy, Hogg; Quaner (Ince 60), Pritchard, Van La Parra (Billing 77); Mounie (Depoitre 71). Subs Coleman (g), Smith, Malone, Lowe. Booked Jorgensen, Pritchard. Watford (4-2-3-1): Karnezis; Janmaat, Prodl, Cathcart, Mariappa; Doucoure, Capoue; Femenia (Richarlison 58), Hughes (Sinclair 90), Pereyra; Deeney (Gray 81). Subs Gomes (g), Britos, Kabasele, Okaka. Booked Pereyra, Janmaat. Referee Craig Pawson (Sheffield).
On target: Tom Ince (No 22) scores a last-minute winner to boost Huddersfield Town’s hopes of Premier League survival