Late Ince strike is talk of the Town

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Jon Cul­ley at Kirklees Sta­dium

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

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