JONATHAN HOGG is the last player one would expect to come up with a stoppage-time winner irrespective of the fact that Huddersfield substitutes have made a habit of netting this season.
In 179 previous league appearances, the player who is used to breaking up attacks rather than finishing them off had scored just once and that was for Darlington in a 5-2 defeat at Chesterfield in November, 2009.
Just a week shy of three years on from netting his only Town goal, an equaliser in a 3-2 Capital One Cup win against Charlton, Hogg turned and curled the ball inside the post two minutes into the five minutes of stoppage-time awarded.
It sent the majority of the 20,001-strong crowd into raptures and head coach David Wagner tearing off to all corners of the ground to celebrate as the final whistle blew.
Hogg’s strike gave Town a third 2-1 victory out of four Championship games – the other being a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa – and in each game a player has come off the bench to score.
Hogg had been replaced in the starting line-up by Dean Whitehead, returning from suspension, but the Middlesbrough lad was not about to kick up a fuss about Wagner’s team selection which also saw Nahki Wells replace Jack Payne up front.
Hogg’s goal sent Town to the top of the fledgling table but they could so easily have been staring defeat in the face after a howler from Whitehead in the 80th minute.
He played a back pass beyond last line of defence Chris Schindler as Town pushed up, and the ball ran into the path of Stefan Payne, who knocked the ball past the onrushing Danny Ward and ran off to celebrate only to see it strike the outside of the post.
German left-back Chris Lowe had given Town a 27th-minute lead, set up by Elias Kachunga’s return pass to curl the ball into the far corner of the net for his first goal for the club, but Barnsley whistled up an equaliser straight after the interval.
Some Town players stopped on hearing a whistle, making it a tad easier for Alfie Mawson to head home fellow centre-back Marc Roberts’s long throw from the left.
Referee Chris Kavanagh was not the one who blew, however, and a tannoy announcement threatened the game would be stopped if there was another from the perpetrator behind the goal – the stand split between both sets of supporters.
The Reds, sticking with the same starting line-up after two wins in a week, had wind in their sails after that but Ward denied Liverpool clubmate Ryan Kent and Huddersfield substitute Harry Bunn tested Adam Davies in the 90th minute before Hogg struck.
The defensive midfield player emerged to say: “It’s nice to give the lads a bit of payback because they’ve scored plenty of winners for me. It’s not about who scores the goals, it’s about the three points. As long as we get three points on the table it doesn’t concern me who gets the goals.
“Charlton in the Cup was my last one but I can’t remember that far back to my last one in the league! It’s been a long time coming but it means so much to get the winner in a game like this.”
On being left out, Hogg continued: “I wasn’t surprised to be on the bench because David pulled me to one side for a chat before the game and he told me I had done all right and he said he wants me to stay fit for the whole season because I am an important player for him.
“It didn’t bother me at all. It was part of the rotation policy designed at keeping players fresh and it was nice of him to give me the heads up before the game.”
Of his rare strike, he added: “I got off the floor and played a one-two off Katchu and kept running on. It’s not normally me, to be honest with you – I’m normally sitting in front of the back four – but this time I kept going and Katchu did great to hold off the lad and feed me through and I turned, saw the goal in front of me and just slotted it in.”
Of his German goal supplier, he said: “Katchu did great for both goals and since coming in he has really surprised me He’s a top player at this level.”
In spite of taking four points from two of the relegated clubs already, Hogg agreed with his head coach on the threat from promoted Barnsley, who would love to enjoy Town’s strength in depth.
“The boss said in the pre-match build-up that Barnsley are a top team and they have the work ethic and the way they go about things is top, top class and they will be one of the best teams we have played and, after that, I agree with him.”
Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom was left disappointed and said: “It is always about the result but we came up against a good side in Huddersfield. For us to be disappointed shows how far we have come.
“It was a game of two halves for us. We didn’t play well in the first half and let them dictate and didn’t pose much threat.
“We responded well in the second half but we couldn’t dwell on it at half-time with the players. We just came up with a new game plan. The boys knew what they were going to do and we almost pulled it off. There are a lot of positives to take.”
Huddersfield Town: Ward, Smith, Hudson, Schindler, Lowe; Scannell (Palmer 56), Mooy (Hogg 56), Whitehead, Van La Parra; Wells (Bunn 76), Kachunga. Unused substitutes: Coleman, Cranie, Payne, Hefele.
Barnsley: Davies, Bree (Yiadom 77), Roberts, Mawson, White; Kent (D’Almeida 67), Scowen, Hourihane, Hammill; Bradshaw (Payne 46), Watkins. Unused substiutes: Townsend, MacDonald, Moncur, Lee.
Referee: C Kavanagh (Manchester).