Wolves got a taste of their own medicine on Tuesday night as Huddersfield scored in stoppage time to secure their first victory and end their 14-game winless streak.
Steve Mounie managed to get the ball in the back of the net giving Huddersfield a deserved victory while Wolves failed to capitalise and return to seventh in the league. Huddersfield started the game well and were putting Wolves under pressure from the off, playing like a team who aren’t down and out, putting long balls into Mounie and providing a lot of movement and support moving forward. Jonathan Hogg came close from the opener with a deflected shot from the edge of the area which squirmed past the post and the Terriers pinned their opponents back in their half for the first 15 minutes and even had 64% possession.
However, Wolves began to settle into the game and created their first chance in typical Wolves style; Jota got down the left to the by-line and crossed to find Matt Doherty who skewed his shot wide of the near post. Nuno seemed far from pleased with his Wolves side and showed a rare sign of frustration. The game died down and the quality in the final third was highlighted by the zero shots on target. The end of the half saw Huddersfield continue to pressure the Wolves rear-guard while a set piece at the other end saw Jimenez just guide the ball wide.
Huddersfield started stronger of the two teams creating two chances and getting the first effort on target. A deflected shot from Mounie led to a corner where a free Jon Gorenc Stankovic’s header was saved well by Rui Patricio. Mounie had another chance from a header and put his header into the net… well, the side netting and the Terriers continued to press and develop some promising build-up, but it would continually break down in the final third, summing up Huddersfield’s season.
Wolves struggled to get any momentum together even with the introduction of Gibbs-White and Cavaleiro as players were slipping over with Neves’s effort from 30-yards summing up their evening as it horribly sliced wide.
Arguably Huddersfield’s best player on Tuesday night was Alex Pritchard who was replaced by Aaron Mooy. However, in stoppage time, there was a goal at the John Smith Stadium and it went to the home side when Steve Mounie deservedly put Huddersfield in front from a scrappy goal and sealed Huddersfield’s first since back in November against none other than Wolves at Molineux. Jan Siewert was mobbed by his coaching staff who defiantly punched the air to celebrate his first Premier League victory.
Terriers bring the energy and attack
Huddersfield looked like a completely different side on Tuesday than that were submissive when going down to 10 men and losing against Newcastle at the weekend. Granted Wolves weren’t up to their standards but this was mostly due to Huddersfield energy to get on the ball, keep it and on their opponents back.
The Terriers mixed up their attacking style, going direct to Mounie and using support to then break on the defence and they were threatening from the wide areas. Karalan Grant, the 21-year-old from Charlton, was supplying some dangerous crosses and can give Huddersfield fans excitement about the future despite their current situation.
Alex Pritchard was vital in the Huddersfield build up as he produced quick movement with quick and accurate passes into the frontmen.The combination with the two strikers up top seemed to make all the difference in their performance. It shouldn’t go unnoticed, that the home fans were the 12th man and helped get Jan Siewert’s first win and points as Huddersfield manager. The energy and determination produced from the team on Tuesday could be a little too late but at least it gives something for the Terriers to build on.
Wolves fail to shock with second-half heroics
Before Tuesday night, Wolves were undefeated in their last eight games which has kept them in the fight for 7th in the Premier League. They have not done this in a completely controlled and comfortable fashion though and they have scored most of their goals in the second half and in numerous games, within seconds of the final whistle. Out of their last 21 league goals, 16 have come in the second half as well as 74% of all their goals occurring in the second half. They are a team with a notorious reputation in the second 45 minutes of a football match, but their first-half form is the complete opposite.
The defence for the Midlands club does tend to stay strong throughout the game but the rest of the team seem to be late out of the changing room. They don’t tend to carry the same energy and quality which they possess in the second half of their football matches. Not to say that they haven’t played well in the first half of some games, they just lack accuracy in front of goal and prefer to keep more structure and coordination rather than the fast, free-flowing football on display in the second 45.
It’s unknown whether this is a tactic which helps players to settle into the game and establish defensive control before progressing up the pitch or if the coaching staff and players respond once feeling out their opponent in the first half. Either way, if they continue to get results, the Molineux faithful won’t argue with their lack of goals in the first half and an exciting goal-rich second half.
Wolves’ European chances slip
After Manchester City’s League Cup final win over Chelsea on Sunday, the prospect of Wolves getting into Europe has become more likely. With Manchester City undoubtedly going to finish in a Champions League position, Wolves would only need to finish 7th and rely on the teams above them to have victory in cup competitions.
Their failure to get a point on Tuesday means Watford are still ahead of Wolves who must face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in their next five league games. They have a great record against the top six this season, but all these clubs have a point to prove as they compete for the final Champions League spot. If they are to enter these fixtures with a similar performance like Tuesday, they’ll be cutting the chances of finishing above thHornetsts and those hot on their heels fighting for 7th.
Huddersfield cut a drift
The Terriers showed much improvement this match but it may still all be a little too late. Huddersfield are anchored to the bottom of the table on 14 points and since Jan Siewert’s appointment, not much had changed in Huddersfield’s fortune before Tuesday night. Despite the Terriers win they lost their previous five and their next five games are crucial as they face beatable opponents in Brighton, Bournemouth, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Leicester. After Tuesday’s inspired victory, they are 11 points adrift from Cardiff. They would have to win four of their next five games and Cardiff to lose all of theirs to get out of the relegation zone.
Even though they managed to avoid claiming the unwanted record of lowest points tally with Tuesday’s win, they are still in the running to be crowned with scoring the fewest goals at home in a Premier League season compared to Manchester City’s 10 goals in 2006-07. The odds are against them for survival it is fair to say and with 10 games left, they need nothing short of a miracle to remain in the Premier League. However, it seems their time has come to return to Championship which they unexpectedly escaped back in May 2017 unless they can produce a more than a great escape.