OSCAR GOBERN had to be satisfied with a bottle of bubbly but will surely soon be clutching a new contract.
The rangy 24-year-old, however, says clinching a new deal is at the back of his mind as he attempts to cement a place in Town’s midfield.
Known more for his destructive rather than inventive qualities, Gobern showed his class to score his first goal of the season before collecting the man-of-the-match sponsors’ Champagne as Town and visitors Derby both stretched their unbeaten runs to five games after a thrilling encounter.
Town were already safe from the threat of relegation and did not have as much to play for as play-off chasers Derby, but try telling that to Chris Powell’s men.
They traded blow for blow, hitting back from Tom Ince’s stunning 25-yard opener to lead 3-1 at the break before being pegged back to 3-3. They then showed resilience to make it 4-3 only for Ince to capitalise on an 80th-minute error from right-back Tommy Smith to bend the ball beyond Alex Smithies to clinch a point.
Gobern, unlucky with a niggling series of injuries since joining from Southampton in 2011 and unable to bed down a prolonged run in the side, got Town on level terms in the 38th minute with only his third goal for the club, chesting down a ball into the area from Conor Coady before hooking it past Lee Grant.
It underlined the influence he has had on the side since starting the last four games and central defender Joel Lynch claimed: “It’s come out of absolutely nowhere. He’s come in before, had his chance but gone back out again but he’s been outstanding recently.
“The confidence the gaffer has given him has helped him come out of nowhere He’s like a new signing for us.
“I have played with players who, in his situation, have given up and wanted to move on, but Oscar has quietly gone about his business and now he has got his place I can’t see him being replaced the way he is playing.”
Of his patient approach, Gobern said: “It’s my job and is part and parcel of football. You have always to make sure that you are ready whenever the gaffer calls upon you. Fortunately, he’s given me a chance and, thankfully, I’ve taken it.
“I am out of contract and have not spoken to the manager yet, but he’s said just concentrate on my game over the next two games and take it from there. I would like to stay. I have been here four years now and have enjoyed every minute. The gaffer has instilled the confidence in myself and the boys have welcomed me like I have never been away.
“Whether I am playing, on the bench, in the stand or injured, I always try to have the same positive mentality, win, lose or draw.”
Gobern’s equaliser followed the stunner by Ince, who a minute earlier had been denied by Smithies’s wonderful save from his free-kick around the wall.
The equaliser was followed by captain Mark Hudson heading home unmarked from a corner before the supplier, Reece James, curled home his next flag kick between Darren Bent and goalkeper Lee Grant to make it 3-1 in first-half stoppage time.
There followed two crucial moments for Town when Nahki Wells, released by Gobern, smashed a shot into the face of Grant before somehow being ruled offside after strike partner Ishmael Miller’s shot had been blocked in a crowded goalmouth.
In between, Simon Dawkins had diverted a cross from Stephen Warnock across Smithies and into the net and the Derby scorer was denied again only for the ball to find Jesse Lingard, who stubbed the ball home from the edge of the area.
Far from deflated, Sean Scannell, back to his tormenting best down the right, set up Miller 12 yards out, but he was crowded out only for Wells to pounce and see his deflected shot make it 4-3.
Ince, however, was not finished, intercepting from Smith and expertly making it 4-4 in the 80th minute for his 10th goal in 16 games since joining on loan from Hull City.
Gobern continued: “That’s one for the neutrals I guess but defenders won’t be happy, although it was a good game to play in.”
Along with his colleagues, Gobern is perplexed as to how well Town play against the better teams and struggle against others, but warned: “If we can pick up points against the lower teams as we do against the top teams then we will be up there alongside the likes of Derby. Once we do that we will be a force in this league.”
Ince’s own future is undecided, although Derby would like to keep him. Much will depend on which division the Rams and his parent club are operating in next season, but he said: “When I was in the Premier League I wasn’t given a fair opportunity. I have not given up hope of playing for Hull in the Premier League, definitely not. I didn’t want people to judge me on whether I am a Premier League player or not because I feel as though I haven’t been given a fair chance yet.”
Huddersfield Town: Smithies, Smith, Hudson, Lynch, James; Gobern, Coady (Hogg 80), Butterfield, Scannell; Miller, Wells (Bunn 88). Unused substitutes: Murphy, Edgar, Wallace, Lolley, Billing.
Derby County: Grant, Shotton, Keogh, Whitbread (Christie 27), Warnock; Hughes (Russell 79), Bryson (Dawkins 9), Hendrick; Ince, Bent, Lingard. Unused substitutes: Roos, Forsyth, Ward, Sammon.
Referee: D Whitehouse (Northants).
Huddersfield retained the Premier Youth League North title on Saturday, Academy chief Mark Lillis continuing to attract interest of three Premier League and one top-flight Spanish clubs.