Town get just re­wards thanks to Mooy’s dou­ble and Billings’ spirit

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD SUT­CLIFFE

HUD­DER­S­FIELD TOWN head coach David Wag­ner be­lieves his side are fi­nally get­ting re­ward for their ef­forts af­ter mov­ing out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone for the first time since mid-Septem­ber.

Two goals from Aaron Mooy sealed a 2-0 tri­umph at Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers that was enough to power the Ter­ri­ers from the foot of the Pre­mier League up to 14th place.

Wag­ner said: “Per­for­mance­wise, we have had com­pa­ra­ble ones to this away from home but we did not get our re­ward.

“This time, we got that re­ward.

“We know we are not as poor as ev­ery­one maybe thinks.

“Our per­for­mances over the 13 games have been on a very high level. If you now look at the ta­ble, it is a nicer re­gion to be in but it does not count for any­thing.

“Every­thing is so tight. Stay fo­cused on the next game and the next per­for­mance.

“The dif­fer­ence now is we got the re­ward, points-wise.”

Mooy, who played 80 min­utes for Aus­tralia in Tues­day’s win over Le­banon in Syd­ney, took the goalscor­ing plau­dits but Philip Billing best epit­o­mised Hud­der­s­field’s hunger.

Wag­ner added: “Phil is a man now, ma­ture.

“Ex­actly what he needed to be.

“I have been with him three years and I am very happy he has now got this fight­ing spirit in his game that maybe was miss­ing.

“He had every­thing, apart from maybe this fight­ing gene. But now he has got it.”

BACK WHEN an af­ter­noon at the foot­ball was a very dif­fer­ent beast to to­day’s fam­ily-friendly af­fair, a visit to Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers was not for the faint-hearted.

Those will­ing to chance the sub­way that led from be­hind the old South Bank ter­race to­wards the sta­tion in the Seven­ties and Eight­ies did so very much at their own risk thanks to the lo­cal hooli­gans’ ten­dency to use the pitch black to am­bush un­sus­pect­ing away sup­port­ers.

Nowa­days, every­thing has changed. The huge ter­race that from pitch­side seemed to stretch al­most all the way to the sky is long gone, while even the un­der­pass that gave its name to the ‘Sub­way Army’ hooli­gans of yes­ter­year has had a makeover in old gold and looks al­most wel­com­ing.

Molineux has also be­come very much a happy hunt­ing ground for Hud­der­s­field Town, whose last seven vis­its stretch­ing back to Septem­ber 1999 have now yielded a phe­nom­e­nal six wins.

The lat­est, and per­haps most im­pres­sive con­sid­er­ing how well Nune Espir­ito Santo’s men have ac­cli­ma­tised to life in the Pre­mier League, came yes­ter­day cour­tesy of two goals from Aaron Mooy and a team per­for­mance so im­pres­sive that even the most oneeyed Wolves fan could not have com­plained at the re­sult.

Be it the de­fen­sive so­lid­ity best epit­o­mised by Christo­pher Schindler or the high-en­ergy of a press­ing game that saw Jonathan Hogg snap and snarl at any­one in old gold from the first to last minute, Hud­der­s­field were ir­re­sistibly good.

The North Bank of this taste­fully ren­o­vated old arena may be adorned by the slo­gan, ‘ The Strength of the Wolf is in the Pack’ but the only team hunt­ing in a pack yes­ter­day was the one sport­ing blue and white.

Last sea­son’s Cham­pi­onship ti­tle-win­ners were never given a mo­ment’s rest by Hogg, Mooy and Philip Billing.

Only the plant­ing of a blue and white flag into the cen­tre cir­cle at Molineux could have more sig­nalled the in­tent of the Town trio to mark out the turf as their own.

Billing, in par­tic­u­lar, was ev­ery­where.

If Wolves so much as threat­ened to break, the Dane would sim­ply glide across the pitch and whip the ball away with a per­fectly-timed tackle.

Of­ten, his an­tic­i­pa­tion would be such that a stretch of those te­le­scopic legs would be enough to stop the hosts abruptly in their tracks.

The Dane was a big threat on the ball, too, and it was lit­tle sur­prise that he was in­volved in the open­ing goal.

His ex­change of passes with Erik Durm was so inch-per­fect that the Ger­man in­ter­na­tional did not have to break stride when re­claim­ing pos­ses­sion wide on the left.

Durm had a quick glance, picked out Aaron Mooy with a pin­point pass and the Aus­tralian did the rest with a side-footed fin­ish beyond Rui Pa­tri­cio.

Just six min­utes had been played when Mooy not only opened his ac­count for the sea­son but also be­came Town’s joint top scorer.

The Aus­tralian moved clear at the top of the club’s scor­ing charts 13 min­utes from time with an equally im­pres­sive fin­ish.

This time a free-kick brought the open­ing, Steve Mounie hav­ing been ham­pered suf­fi­ciently by a mis-timed tackle from Willy Boly that Kevin Friend felt play should be pulled back when the ball was cleared by a cov­er­ing de­fender with the Town striker still on his feet.

Mooy stepped up and curled an ex­quis­ite free-kick round the wall with suf­fi­cient pace that Pa­tri­cio was un­able to keep it out de­spite get­ting a hand to the ball.

Town’s sec­ond came in the wake of Wolves’ best spell of the game. Adama Traore’s in­tro­duc­tion from the bench at the break had pepped the hosts up suf­fi­ciently to put David Wag­ner’s men un­der pres­sure.

Raul Jimenez came clos­est to draw­ing Wan­der­ers level when meet­ing a Traore cross with a header that beat Jonas Lossl but not Billing, whose clear­ance came in the nick of time with re­plays show­ing all but a small frac­tion of the ball had crossed the line.

Ruben Neves also fired a free­kick into the Town de­fen­sive wall, while Jimenez made a to­tal mess of a great op­por­tu­nity when played on­side by a prone Kon­golo lay­ing in­jured on the ground.

As wor­ry­ing, how­ever, as these mo­ments were for the vis­i­tors, there could also be lit­tle doubt that Wag­ner’s men de­served this first away vic­tory since Fe­bru­ary’s 2-1 tri­umph down the road at West Bromwich Al­bion.

Af­ter go­ing ahead through Mooy’s early strike, Hud­der­s­field had enough op­por­tu­ni­ties to ef­fec­tively kill Wolves off be­fore half-time. Steve Mounie, a con­stant thorn in the side of the home de­fence, headed straight at Pa­tri­cio when well placed.

So did Ter­ence Kon­golo with a sim­i­lar chance, while Matt Do­herty de­served huge credit for get­ting in the way of Mounie’s goal­bound header in first half stop­page time.

Wolves, hav­ing posed lit­tle of note at­tack­ing-wise in the open­ing 45 min­utes, did im­prove af­ter half-time but Hud­der­s­field still car­ried a huge threat.

Billing went close with a curled ef­fort that flashed just wide be­fore Alex Pritchard, found by an out­ra­geous back-heel from Mounie, had a shot blocked.

A cou­ple of min­utes later, Mooy had his sec­ond and Hud­der­s­field were soar­ing from the foot of the Pre­mier League to 14th place.

As the de­jected home fans dis­ap­peared into a cold Mid­lands night, those among the 1,838 trav­el­ling fans head­ing to­wards the sta­tion via Molineux’s once no­to­ri­ous un­der­pass did so with a spring in their step.

2 The num­ber of goals scored by Aaron Mooy – both yes­ter­day – to make him Hud­der­s­field Town’s top scorer this sea­son.

PIC­TURES: NICK POTTS/PA

RE­LIEF: Aaron Mooy wheels away in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter scor­ing Hud­der­s­field Town’s sec­ond goal in their 2-0 Pre­mier League vic­tory at Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day. In­set, it was a win that set up the Ter­ri­ers’ cus­tom­ary vic­tory salute in front of their fans, some­thing they have only been able to en­joy twice this sea­son.

PIC­TURES: NICK POTTS/PA

EV­ERY­WHERE MAN: Hud­der­s­field Town’s Philip Billing in­ter­venes in the nick of time, top, to pre­vent the ball go­ing fully over the goalline in yes­ter­day’s en­counter ar Molineux. Jonathan Hogg, above left, and Christo­pher Schindler, above right, were both im­pres­sive.

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