Pritchard’s strike brings a rare shaft of light for Hud­der­s­field

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Mike Whal­ley at John Smith’s Sta­dium

Even in dis­ap­point­ment, there is rea­son for Hud­der­s­field to hope again. They are still in the rel­e­ga­tion zone, but they have picked up four points in a week and even scored two goals.

For a side who have be­come no­to­ri­ous for a lack of threat, that feels like some­thing of a break­through. Alex Pritchard’s scuffed sixth-minute strike was surely one of the un­ti­di­est goals of the week­end, but was cel­e­brated as if it were some­thing spe­cial. Which, in terms of its rar­ity, it was.

Pritchard was the first Hud­der­s­field player to score a Premier League goal at the John Smith’s Sta­dium since April 14. Had he and his team-mates been more ruth­less and lucky, it would surely have been the pre­lude to their sec­ond league win in six days.

In­stead, they were caught thanks to a player who has hit rich form. West Ham paid a club-record £42mil­lion to Lazio for Felipe An­der­son in July and, af­ter a rocky start, the Brazil­ian is be­gin­ning to show his value.

The striker fin­ished clin­i­cally a move he had started, wal­lop­ing a shot into the top cor­ner af­ter Robert Sn­od­grass’s cross had been mis­kicked by Marko Ar­nau­tovic, and both Javier Her­nan­dez and Michail An­to­nio had shots blocked.

“Felipe scored a beau­ti­ful goal to­day,” said Manuel Pel­le­grini, the West Ham man­ager. “It’s al­ways im­por­tant for a player to score but I think Felipe and the whole team must im­prove.”

It was a fair assess­ment. West Ham were dread­ful in the first 45 min­utes and for­tu­nate to con­cede only once. Lukasz Fabi­an­ski had re­acted bril­liantly to turn a Steve Mounie header on to the bar in the sec­ond minute, but the goal­keeper was cul­pa­ble in re­act­ing slowly to Pritchard’s opener.

He was not alone. Issa Diop’s poor pass out of de­fence, played hur­riedly back­wards by An­der­son, forced De­clan Rice into an er­ror Mounie and Jonathan Hogg pounced on to set up the goalscorer, once a West Ham youth player.

Mo­ments later, Philip Billing’s cross-shot bounced off a post with Fabi­an­ski flap­ping, then Mounie was de­nied by the goal­keeper when clean through.

West Ham had sights of goal too, no­tably when Ar­nau­tovic strode through with the game goal­less, but fin­ished weakly for Jonas Lossl to save. They im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly in the sec­ond half when Pel­le­grini sent on Her­nan­dez at half-time to sup­port Ar­nau­tovic up front. They might have won as Issa Diop’s header from Sn­od­grass’s cor­ner was blocked on the line by Aaron Mooy. Hud­der­s­field lost de­fender Chris Lowe with a dis­lo­cated shoul­der, but man­ager David Wag­ner saw pos­i­tives: “We have four points out of two games, though it could have been six, and we are in the mid­dle of the race to leave three teams be­hind us.”

Rich form: Felipe An­der­son salutes his goal

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