Big-match verdict: Leeds United again left to lick derby wounds as Michael Hefele rewards Huddersfield Town’s endeavours

Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner, right, and his Leeds United counterpart Garry Monk clash on the touchline ( Picture: Tony Johnson).
Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner, right, and his Leeds United counterpart Garry Monk clash on the touchline ( Picture: Tony Johnson).
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Just think, these two might yet meet again this season.

You suspect that has not escaped the attention of many and should the play-offs see Huddersfield Town and Leeds United bump into each other – just as David Wagner and Garry Monk did yesterday – then expect the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren to take a strong interest in promoting it.

The A62 derby has had its combustive moments over the years and this was another famous occasion. Make that infamous.

An 89th-minute winner from Michael Hefele was dramatic enough, but the incendiary and thoroughly unsavoury scenes that followed shortly afterwards provided this latest rumble between two near-neighbours with an unwanted postscript.

Town head coach David Wagner’s celebrations on the pitch after Hefele deservedly earned Town the derby spoils may have been instinctive and from the heart, but they were somewhat injudicious.

But the bellicose flare-up that followed between both sets of rival players and coaching staff was far more reprehensible, with the upshot being that Wagner and his Leeds counterpart Garry Monk were sent to the stands – and there may yet be further repercussions.

It was sad that an unnecessary rumpus took the emphasis away from a highly watchable game that painted Huddersfield in a very glowing on-pitch light, once again.

Town supporters may have been fearful of an ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ type performance after witnessing their side’s sublime display against Brighton, but they need not have worried.

The sequel was pretty eye-catching too as Town turned in another display of real substance in front of the Sky cameras, while Leeds were once again second-best in a televised Yorkshire derby for the second time in just over a fortnight.

The pre-match preliminaries for United fans largely revolved around the love-in with cult hero defender Pontus Jansson intensifying with the news that he had agreed to sign permanently in the summer – fresh from his joyous late winner at Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night.

But another iconic figure stole Jansson’s thunder at the end of derby day in the shape of Hefele, who repeated the Swede’s trick of firing home a late winner.

To say the big German was ecstatic would be putting it mildly, so much so that he let out an unfortunate impromptu expletive when interviewed after the game.

Quite often derbies fail to live up to all the hype and hullabaloo, but thankfully yesterday was not one of those occasions.

Both sides brought offerings to the table in the first half, but crucially it was Town who kicked on in the second half, with Leeds beating a retreat and having few answers, just as they largely did 15 days earlier at Oakwell.

Huddersfield took to the field just under 62 hours after their previous engagement, but you would never have guessed, with another dynamic performance speaking volumes about their mindset, fitness levels and unquenchable spirit and belief.

It saw the irrepressible duo of Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg assume command in the engine room and while Town may have had to wait for their reward, no one could question the validity of their win.

The first half saw Town carve out the better chances, but Leeds post a semblance of threat, chiefly in the shape of Chris Wood.

United’s top-scorer, who went close early on, took his season’s tally to 21 to cancel out Izzy Brown’s 27th-minute opener, coolly rounding Danny Ward and slotting the ball home after latching onto Kyle Bartley’s header following Pablo Hernandez’s centre.

Town players appealed in vain for offside, but replays showed Wood was onside, the Kiwi taking his career tally against Huddersfield to eight goals in 12 matches.

Either side of Wood’s 35th-minute goal, Town showcased their talents with Rob Green doing well to deny Collin Quaner twice on his league debut, while Gaetano Berardi thwarted Elias Kachunga with an outstanding last-ditch block; Hefele also spurned a free header.

Brown, however, showed razor-sharp instincts to fire Town ahead shortly after coming on for Kasey Palmer, blasting home following Tommy Smith’s free cross, but Wood restored parity eight minutes later.

The second half belonged to Town, who took an early stranglehold on proceedings and did not let go. Van La Parra was inches away from turning in Kachunga’s inviting low cross before Quaner spurned a golden chance.

The best United could muster saw an instinctive strike from distance from substitute Alfonso Pedraza tipped away by Ward.

But there was to be no smash and grab raid like in the fixture in Huddersfield almost two years to the day, with Town ultimately finding a way to win.

Kachunga went desperately close before his compatriot Hefele became the home hero, steering the ball home after Mooy’s wayward shot was deflected into his path by the fortunate Luke Ayling.