The game between Huddersfield Town and Norwich City featured two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Canaries are in the chasing pack looking for a top six finish, and are five points from sixth place. They were unbeaten in five games before a loss to Sunderland on Sunday. The hosts though are fighting for their lives at the opposite end of the table and will be grateful for a place in the second tier next season. Huddersfield have also won only one of their last 13 league matches.
Canaries boss David Wagner made his first return to the Terriers – where he enjoyed great success from 2015-2019, which included promotion to the Premier League in 2017. He kept Huddersfield up in their first season but was sacked in January 2019, with The Terriers eventually relegated at the end of the 2018-19 season.
Wagner made three changes to the side that lost to Sunderland on Sunday with Marcelino Nunez, Onel Hernandez and Teemu Pukki making way for Jacob Sørensen, Marquinhos and American forward Josh Sargent.
The Terriers made two changes to the side who lost at West Brom with Danny Ward and Rarmani Edmonds-Green coming in for David Kasumu and Matty Pearson.
The home side were also sporting a yellow and red strip in support of four local charities: Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Ruddi’s Retreat, Andy’s Man Club and the Huddersfield Town Foundation.
The first chance fell in the opening minute when a lack of communication between goalkeeper Angus Gunn and defender Ben Gibson allowed Jack Rudoni through on goal. Gunn however did enough to get back and smother the ball. From then on the hosts struggled for a foothold on proceedings in the early stages, with Norwich looking increasingly dangerous. They almost took the lead on 14 minutes as great play down the left from Sargent and Kenny McLean saw the latter fire low from eight yards, only for Terriers stopper Tomas Vaclik, to his relief, watch it whistle past his left hand post. Vaclik was tested again on the midway point of the first half, as Ben Gibson’s 30 yard drive was tipped over the crossbar by the Czech.
The Canaries did take the lead on 26 minutes as good work on the left from Adam Idah resulted in him getting a cross in, allowing the in-form Gabriel Sara to volley home past Vaclik from just outside the six yard box. That was Sara’s third goal in four games and his sixth of the season. One of the three quick fire corners that the Terriers received shortly after fell to Ben Jackson just outside the box. He hit it flush on the volley but it was deflected and fired just past Angus Gunn’s post.
Wagner was forced into making two changes in the latter stages of the first half, with Ben Gibson and Adam Idah being replaced by Andrew Omobamidele and Teemu Pukki. The whistle soon blew for half time but it was Norwich who had the lead. The home fans though became increasingly frustrated due to a lack of attacking intent and many passes going astray.
It was Norwich on the front foot from the off as Sara fired a shot just past the post from 25 yards just 30 seconds after the interval. The first yellow card of the game came on 53 minutes, when full back Max Aarons hauled down Ben Jackson when charging down on goal. The resulting free kick from Martyn Waghorn was fired over. The Terriers continued to put the Canaries under pressure, as a shot from Danny Ward, which appeared to be going in, deflected wide for a corner. From the resulting corner they had a drive from Ben Jackson blocked and a contentious handball shout waved away. Angus Gunn was later booked for taking his time on a goal kick.
The Terriers got a slice of good fortune on 66 minutes as a lack of concentration in the Norwich defence gave Koroma the chance to feed Waghorn. He gleefully lobbed Gunn, but his effort hit the post and hit the hapless Grant Hanley. It was 1-1. Shortly after though, Koroma was forced off with injury and was replaced by David Kasumu. Norwich made a triple change in the 77th minute in the hope of turning the game back in their favour. It almost had the desired effect immediately as sub Liam Gibbs fed Pukki whose shot was blocked by the stubborn Huddersfield defence. Just a minute later and the Terriers had Tom Lees to thank as another Pukki effort hit the defender before going for a corner.
Tyreece Simpson and Brahima Diarra were thrown on by Neil Warnock with seven minutes to play, replacing Danny Ward and goalscorer Waghorn. As the game approached injury time, Jack Rudoni made some space for himself and had a crack from just outside the box, but Gunn confidently watched it sail over the cross bar. Sub Simpson also saw himself with an opportunity as he drove into the box and fired into the side netting.
There was even time for a late red card as Norwich’s Marquinhos saw red in stoppage time for an elbow on Josh Ruffels.
POST MATCH THOUGHTS
Neil Warnock may be 74 years old – but he was his usual self on the touchline, barking out orders and being in the fourth officials’ ear for most of the game.
He spoke of his pride at the second half performance. He said:
“We were so hesitant on the ball in the first half, but at the end I thought we could have scored a second with a bit more luck. I think that nervousness comes from the position we’re in. They’re a good group though, and I can’t fault them.”
“I thought we got stronger and stronger. We have to give them credit in the first half too – they have some good players. I’m proud of how the lads came back.”
Norwich boss David Wagner was critical of his sides performance, but was grateful his side had more chances than in Sunday’s Sunderland defeat.
“The first half was okay. We took the lead, a deserved lead and we controlled the game. In the second half we lost our rhythm. Including the red card it was a very difficult evening.
“Tonight we had many good opportunities. McLean had a good chance in the first half. Christos (Tzolis) had good clear cut chances, as did Teemu (Pukki). We had much more opportunities than Sunday but unfortunately we didn’t take them.
The Canaries face a tricky trip to Stoke City next, knowing they now sit four points behind Millwall who currently occupy the final play off place. Ironically, The Terriers travel to play Millwall next and go with some confidence, but are fully aware that they have the worst away record in the league, with only 10 points picked up from 18 league games on the road.
Huddersfield: Vaclik; Edmonds-Green, Lees, Helik, Ruffels; Koroma (Kasumu 73′), Hogg (C), Rudoni, Jackson; Waghorn (Simpson 83′), Ward (Diarra 83′).
Subs not used: Bilokapic, Pearson, Hungbo, Rhodes.
Norwich: Gunn; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson (Omobamidele 34′), Giannoulis (McCallum 77′); Gabriel Sara, Marquinhos, McLean, Sorensen (Gibbs 77′), Idah (Pukki 42′); Sargent (Tzolis 77′).
Subs not used: Krul, Nunez.
Yellow Cards: HTAFC: N/A
NCFC: Aarons 53’/Gunn 64’/McLean 90+5.
Red Cards: HTAFC: N/A
NCFC: Marquinhos 90+2
Shots on goal: HTAFC: 11
Corners: HTAFC: 6
Referee: Keith Stroud