Huddersfield Town 0 Middlesbrough 2
BORO moved into the top two with goals from players scoring for the club for the first time. Writes GORDON COX from the John Smith’s Stadium.
Bruno Zuculini was the man tasked with stepping in to the Grant Leadbitter role with George Friend taking over the captaincy from the suspended skipper on his 150th game for Boro.
Muzzy Carayol wasn’t allowed to play under the terms of his loan agreement and Dean Whitehead kept up his 100 per cent appearance record.
Cold wet and windy it might have been, but the Boro fans were in great voice. Before and after the game there were chants of, “Only one Ali Brownlee,” and “Ali Brownlee, he’s one of our own,” in support of the BBC Tees commentator who was diagnosed with cancer of the lower bowel earlier this week.
The conditions lent themselves to a lively start, both sides adapting well and contributing to an open game.
If the Boro fans were in good voice before they almost took the roof off their sold-out stand with just eight minutes played when Adam Clayton rode a challenge on the edge of the Huddersfield penalty area, got up first to attack the loose ball, advanced a stride and struck a left-footed shot past Jed Steer with aid of a deflection. Not a bad time to score your first goal for the club (in 70 games), against the side for who you were once Player of the Season.
Rocked by the goal, Town quickly set about getting back in to the game and Nahki Wells hit the bar with a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.
Wells, sent clear by Sean Scannell, brought a very smart save from Dimi Konstantopoulos.
The first booking of the game was against Whitehead. It was avoidable on two counts as Whitehead could have pulled out, but had Diego Fabbrini looked up he would have seen David Nugent peeling away down the right completely unmarked.
The home fans were becoming increasingly frustrated by refereeing decisions they felt kept going against them, but the team, bar one or two questions, got on with the job and Scannell went close and Jamie Paterson brought another save from Konstantopoulos with a powerful shot from the right-hand edge of the area.
Boro had chances to break and cause problems, but too often the wrong choice of pass was made the chance was lost.
Half-time Huddersfield Town 0 Middlesbrough 1
Huddersfield set off where they left off in the first half and Boro on the back foot.
David Wagner has said he wants his side to play in a style similar style to his previous club Borussia Dortmund, a high press energetic game and his players have certainly responded.
Boro found it difficult to create anything though generally coped with what was thrown at them.
A double change saw Fabbrini and Albert Adomah replaced by fit again Adam Forshaw and Cristhian Stuani.
Entering the final quarter of an hour it remained a game that had rendered very few chances and the only one of the half to that point had come from a Stewart Downing free-kick which Jed Steer did well to hold low down.
Not long after his introduction Flo Bojaj missed a half chance deep inside the Boro penalty area.
A minute later and Boro had wrapped the game up.
A flowing move with some delicate and very neat interplay cut Huddersfield open and was finished as Stuani rolled in Emilio Nsue with a delightful pass and the Equatorial Guinea international scored his first goal for Boro with a superbly-placed low shot which curled beyond Steer.
“Two shots, we’ve only had two shots,” sang the fans, before launching into another verse of “Ali Brownlee, he’s one of our own.”
Today was a day where Teesside was heard loud and proud in West Yorkshire and beyond.
*Earlier today Boro’s U18s won 2-0 away to Newcastle United. Jack Lambert and Lee Hetherington were the goalscorers.
Scorers Clayton 8, Nsue 83
Huddersfield Town: Steer; Smith, Hudson (Capt.), Cranie, Lolley (Bojaj 78), Whitehead, Huws, Scannell (Dempsey 67), Paterson (Holmes 70), Chilwell, Wells. Subs: Allison (gk); Davidson, Hogg, Wallace.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Nsue, Ayala, Gibson, Friend (Capt.), Adomah (Stuani 63), Zuculini, Clayton, Downing, Fabbrini (Forshaw 62), Nugent. Subs: Mejias (gk); Amorebieta, Stephens, De Pena, Kike.
Referee Mr Eddie Ilderton. Tyne and Wear.
Town Whitehead 17, foul; Hudson 52, foul; Smith 53, foul.
Boro Gibson 59, foul.
Attendance 15,434 (3,910 Boro)
Conditions Cold, wet and windy
Possession Huddersfield Town 75% Boro 25%