Town look doomed but we fight on – Kachunga

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - Richard Sut­cliffe AT CRAVEN COT­TAGE ■ richard.sut­[email protected]­me­dia.co.uk ■ @RSootyYPS­port

THE sight of a mo­tion­less Christo­pher Schindler star­ing into space on the half­way line for a full two min­utes af­ter Hud­der­s­field Town’s de­feat in this Premier League base­ment bat­tle brought to mind an al­to­gether hap­pier oc­ca­sion for the Ger­man de­fender.

Wem­b­ley and the 2017 Cham­pi­onship play-off fi­nal was the last time a Ter­ri­ers game had ended in such con­trast­ing scenes of de­spair and ju­bi­la­tion.

Then Schindler and his Hud­der­s­field team-mates had par­tied with as much vigour as their ex­hausted bod­ies would al­low af­ter see­ing off Read­ing on penal­ties to clinch pro­mo­tion to the top flight.

This time around it was Ful­ham do­ing the cel­e­brat­ing as man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri ran onto the field and made straight for goalscorer Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic.

All around the Ital­ian his play­ers em­braced as the home fans in the 24,423 crowd rose as one to salute their team.

The sheer re­lief of get­ting over the line was clear for all to see, as was the ut­ter sense of de­jec­tion be­ing felt by those sport­ing red and black.

Lau­rent De­poitre, lost in the mo­ment ev­ery bit as much as Schindler, also stared back at the Ham­mer­smith End goal where Mitro­vic had scored in the first minute of stop­page-time to set­tle a game that had only sparked into life dur­ing the fi­nal quar­ter.

Thirty yards away Erik Durm fell to the turf and had to be dragged to his feet by a mem­ber of the Town staff. Ditto Elias Kachunga, like Schindler a veteran of that glo­ri­ous day at Wem­b­ley and now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a very dif­fer­ent side of foot­ball.

They knew, as did the 2,700 vis­it­ing sup­port­ers stand­ing in stunned si­lence next to the Thames, that this de­feat was so much more than the loss of three points to a ri­val in the fi­nal game of the year.

In­stead it felt like the end. Not the be­gin­ning of the end for Town in the Premier League, but the end.

It is not, of course. Hud­der­s­field are back in ac­tion on Wed­nes­day at home to Burn­ley, the first of 18 re­main­ing games this sea­son. Vic­tory over the Clarets and hope will re­turn to a club who have achieved a foot­balling mir­a­cle in each of the last two cam­paigns.

But re­ally this de­feat to a poor Ful­ham side feels like a defin­ing mo­ment for Town in 2018-19.

Not for the first time a big op­por­tu­nity against a rel­e­ga­tion ri­val had been squan­dered and the sullen looks on the faces of the play­ers when fil­ing out of Craven Cot­tage an hour or so later ahead of the flight home spoke vol­umes.

Lift­ing those same play­ers in time for the visit of Sean Dy­che’s men will not be easy, but Kachunga is adamant Town can bounce back.

“To be left with noth­ing in our hands was hard,” said the 26-yearold to The York­shire Post. “We are re­ally dis­ap­pointed. This was a re­ally im­por­tant game for both teams, a chance against a team in front of us.

“We lost and that is not an easy sit­u­a­tion. Not only for me, but the club be­cause we are not get­ting the re­sults we want.

“But now ev­ery­one has to go home, try to clear our heads and try to go on. The next game is in a few days and we have to try ev­ery­thing to turn the points back in our di­rec­tion.

“Ev­ery sin­gle per­son in this club has to still be­lieve in each other – and do ev­ery­thing for each other to give us a chance to stay in this league.

“Ev­ery­one has to show the pas­sion that got us up and also last sea­son kept us in this league. There is still a chance. Noth­ing is done af­ter this game.”

Town’s de­spair at the fi­nal whis­tle was ac­cen­tu­ated by the ma­jor re­prieve they had been handed 10 min­utes be­fore Mitro­vic struck with the win­ner.

Chris Lowe’s re­flex ac­tion to raise his arm when chal­leng­ing Aboubakar Ka­mara meant ref­eree Kevin Friend had no op­tion but to point to the spot when the ball struck the Town left-back.

What then fol­lowed was high farce as Ka­mara tucked the ball un­der his arm and waved away the ap­peals of Mitro­vic, Ful­ham’s des­ig­nated penalty taker, to hand it over.

Cap­tain Tom Cair­ney and Calum Cham­bers then be­came in­volved in the heated dis­cus­sions, plead­ing with the French at­tacker. Ka­mara, how­ever, won the ar­gu­ment, but then missed the kick as Jonas Lossl pulled off a fine save.

“I wanted to kill him,” said Ranieri af­ter­wards and the next few min­utes saw sec­tions of the home sup­port jeer Ka­mara’s ev­ery touch.

This dis­con­tent, to­gether with the vis­i­ble im­pact the penalty row had made on the home play­ers, gave Hud­der­s­field suf­fi­cient hope to be­lieve a late win­ner could be theirs that they went away from a game plan de­signed to con­tain and frus­trate.

Bod­ies poured for­ward and this proved Town’s un­do­ing shortly af­ter the fourth of­fi­cial had in­di­cated there would be a min­i­mum five min­utes of stop­page-time.

Durm re­ceiv­ing the ball in a promis­ing po­si­tion was the cue for the Ter­ri­ers to pour for­ward, mean­ing when his cross failed to find De­poitre, and Philip Billing sub­se­quently slipped, Ful­ham sud­denly had a break on.

Cair­ney found Ryan Sesse- gnon, who looked up be­fore thread­ing a de­fence-split­ting pass for Mitro­vic to chase.

Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jor­gensen tried to block the path to goal, but the Serb was too strong and he fin­ished coolly past Lossl. Cue those con­trast­ing post-match scenes as Town slipped ever deeper into the mire.

PIC­TURES: JUSTIN SET­TER­FIELD/GETTY IMAGES

SUNK: Ful­ham’s Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic scores the late win­ner, top, leav­ing Hud­der­s­field’s Jonathan Hogg, left, to show his de­jec­tion af­ter Jonas Lossl had saved a penalty from Aboubakar Ka­mara, right, in the Premier League match at Craven Cot­tage.

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