TOWN’S ‘MIR­A­CLE’ STILL TO BE COM­PLETED – WAGNER

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Leon Wob­schall FOOT­BALL WRITER Email: leon.wob­schall@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @LeonWobYP

HEAD COACH David Wagner in­sists that the ‘job is not done’ for Hud­der­s­field Town, despite his side tak­ing a gi­ant stride to­wards clinch­ing Premier League safety with a dra­matic last-gasp 1-0 home vic­tory over Wat­ford.

Deliri­ous scenes fol­lowed Tom Ince’s stoppage-time strike and at the fi­nal whis­tle, with it in­escapable to avoid the feel­ing that the vic­tory will rep­re­sent the de­fin­i­tive mo­ment of Town’s cam­paign.

The win se­cured a sweet Satur­day for Town, who had been af­forded a mas­sive fil­lip ahead of kick-off with news of Southamp­ton’s 3-2 loss to vis­it­ing Chelsea, with the Saints hav­ing led 2-0.

Town’s sec­ond top-flight dou­ble since April, 1956 saw them jump up two places to sev­enth from bot­tom and they are now seven points above third-from­bot­tom Southamp­ton, who do have a game in hand.

Mark Hughes’s side visit Le­ices­ter City on Thurs­day even­ing, while sec­ond-from-bot­tom Stoke City go to West Ham tonight.

Town’s win was the perfect de­vel­op­ment at the start of a key two-match home spell which con­cludes with the visit of Ever­ton on Satur­day week.

Wagner looked emo­tion­ally drained when ad­dress­ing the me- dia af­ter the Ger­man had raced down the touch­line to cel­e­brate with his play­ers af­ter Ince’s goal.

It was a reprise of the scenes which fol­lowed Town’s late win­ner against Leeds in Fe­bru­ary, 2016, and he said: “I am happy and very proud as this was a very, very im­por­tant mo­ment for this foot­ball club and a big step in the di­rec­tion of reach­ing our tar­get.

“I would rank this (safety) as big­ger than the pro­mo­tion last year.

“A foot­ball club like us, with our size, our fi­nan­cial power and re­cent his­tory were a team that got pro­moted with a neg­a­tive goal dif­fer­ence and with­out scor­ing in the play-offs. We were three weeks later (get­ting pro­moted) so we had so many disad­van­tages be­fore we even started this sea­son. That was apart from it be­ing 45 years out of the top flight and hav­ing just the 19th big­gest bud­get in the Cham­pi­onship.

“But we ac­cepted that and we wanted to give our­selves a goal in a dif­fer­ent way. If last sea­son was a fairy­tale, this sea­son is a mir­a­cle be­cause, for me, it is a higher level and a big­ger suc­cess. But the job is not (yet) done, clearly it is not.”

Just as Town were in­debted to a stoppage-time strike, there was also late drama at Oakwell, where rel­e­ga­tion-haunted Barns­ley res­cued a point against fel­low strug­glers Bolton, thanks to Oli McBurnie’s goal in the third­minute of stoppage time.

It en­sures that the third-from­bot­tom Reds still have a fight­ing chance of Cham­pi­onship sur­vival on a day when two quick­fire Bolton goals in the last 10 min­utes looked like leav­ing the hosts five points adrift of safety.

But McBurnie’s strike en­sured that Barns­ley re­main two points be­hind Wan­der­ers, with a game in hand.

Head coach Jose Mo­rais, whose Reds side scored a vi­tal late home goal for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive Satur­day af­ter late drama against Sh­effield United, com­mented: “Ev­ery game now is a fi­nal. Ev­ery point is im­por­tant and win­ning games is im­por­tant.

“I be­lieve in this (Barns­ley’s safety mis­sion) and this is the way I feel and I feel the be­lief. My wish is this be­lief can spread through­out the whole team.

“We have been hav­ing less volatil­ity in our re­sults and we are be­ing more con­stant and now the goal is to win, win and win if it is pos­si­ble. This is our wish, will, de­sire and goal.”

A sem­i­nal Satur­day pro­gramme in the Cham­pi­onship play-off race saw the Blades draw 1-1 with top-six ri­vals Millwall – on an af­ter­noon when the big ben­e­fi­cia­ries were Mid­dles­brough, who beat top-six ri­vals Bris­tol City 2-1.

Boro jumped up to fifth spot, courtesy of Derby County’s shock 3-1 loss at Bur­ton Al­bion.

The Teessiders travel to Pride Park to face the Rams on Satur­day and two key fix­tures po­ten­tially fol­low on April 28 when the Blades host play-off ri­vals Pre­ston North End and Boro en­ter­tain Millwall.

On his ninth-placed side’s draw against the Lions, Wilder, whose charges visit strug­gling Birm­ing­ham City this com­ing week­end, said: “This does not en­hance our chances, but the pic­ture can change in the space of a week be­cause this di­vi­sion is so un­pre­dictable.

“We are wait­ing and re­ly­ing on other re­sults, but the sea­son is still alive with three games to go.”

I would rank achiev­ing safety as big­ger than pro­mo­tion.

Hud­der­s­field Town head coach David Wagner

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