Burnley 1 Huddersfield Town 2: Sorba Thomas star of Terriers show

BOOGIE-WOOGIE piano combo and avid Tottenham Hotspur supporters Chas and Dave famously used to sing about it being lucky for eight-time Cup winners Spurs when the year ends in one.

Joy:
Town's Josh Koroma celebrates after equalising.
Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Joy: Town's Josh Koroma celebrates after equalising. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe

For Huddersfield Town – certainly when it comes to visiting Burnley in the FA Cup on third-round weekend – it might just be lucky when the year ends in two.

At the very least, Town might have some overdue fun in the cup this year. Here was a good start.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

A century ago in 1922, in the club’s sole cup success, their journey started out at Turf Moor with Ernie Islip and Billy Watson netting in a 2-2 draw before the Clarets were beaten in the replay.

Winner: Town's Matty Pearson celebrates his winning goal.

For good measure, Town beat Notts County at the same venue in the semi-final.

Dependable full-back Dennis Clarke scored the all-important goal 50 years ago in 1972 when Town again began their cup campaign in East Lancashire and reached the quarter-finals.

The cup has had its knockers of late, yet mercifully its magic is still never far away from the surface as was shown on Saturday. At Aggborough, Meadow Park, St James’ Park and Turf Moor.

This was not a seismic shock in a game which always had upset potential – pitting an in-form Championship side with an off-colour Premier League struggler with the sides separated by just eight places in the pyramid.

Debut delight: Huddersfield's reserve goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic.

Yet try telling that to Huddersfield’s sell-out 2,300 contingent who had an absolute ball and provided all the atmosphere amid non-stop backing and even afforded themselves a delicious and wonderful chant about going to Wembley during their side’s fine second-half comeback.

The Cup clearly matters still and given Town’s underwhelming performances in recent times in it, this was timely.

Matty Pearson’s 87th-minute winner was certainly exquisitely timed.

Against a tiring Burnley side who looked their age in the second half, the freshness came from Town, led by Sorba Thomas.

At Burnley Cricket Club, situated directly behind the away stand where Town’s followers were housed, they speak gushingly about local hero James Anderson, known as the ‘King of Swing’ and ‘Burnley Express.’

Thomas is a king when it comes to goal assists this term for Huddersfield, with his tally now into double figures after adding two more to his burgeoning total.

He is also a flyer too, just ask Clarets defender Matt Lowton, who saw plenty of the back of his shirt during his devastating cameo from the bench.

Thomas’s introduction on 69 minutes was a card perfectly delivered by Carlos Corberan. His side were on top against Burnley without delivering the punches where it hurts against a side ripe for the taking.

The winger provided the boxing equivalent of the old one-two – a jab and the straight right.

Sixteen Burnley players sat out training on Friday and seven missed Saturday’s game with Covid. They were also without their best attacker in Maxwel Cornet, on international duty.

Yet their starting line-up was still strong and contained nous in the likes of Chris Wood, Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Nick Pope and Jay Rodriguez.

It would have been a disservice to suggest it was a weak side, while Town themselves made seven changes and started without some big-hitters, including Thomas and Lewis O’Brien.

One of Burnley’s senior cast in Rodriguez put them in front in a first half which saw Town get in some promising situations but let themselves down in terms of decision-making and final-ball deliveries. That would change.

Played onside by Tom Lees – who had just returned to the pitch following treatment – Rodriguez also cashed in on a moment’s uncertainty from Ryan Schofield and nipped in to nod home with Town’s backline not covering themselves in glory after switching off following Dale Stephens’s punt forward.

It was an unwanted development for Schofield in his first game since mid-August. Unfortunately, worse was to come when he came off second-best in a challenge with Wood and went off with a shoulder injury, with young Sydneysider Nicholas Bilokapic brought on for a debut he could not have been expecting.

The odds on a Town comeback – with first-choice goalkeeper Lee Nicholls absent through illness – appeared long. But this is the cup.

In the event, Bilokapic had nothing to do and Town, who posted a warning when Jon Russell headed against the post moments before the break, dominated the second period.

The likes of Russell and Josh Ruffels came to the party. Ultimately, it was Thomas’s show.

Half-chances came and went with regularity before substitutes Duane Holmes and Thomas exposed the deficiencies of Lowton, a right-sided defender playing on the left, to set up a cherished back-post leveller for Josh Koroma, who netted his first goal in 18 games since September 14.

Pope somehow kept out Holmes’s header before the winner that had been coming arrived when Pearson – an ex-Blackburn player – headed in Thomas’s corner.