Eras overlap at Huddersfield Town as Terriers bring curtain down on Neil Warnock show

There was an overriding feeling that Huddersfield Town’s tepid season finale could have been very different.

When Neil Warnock was drafted in to revive the ailing Terriers, the final-day fixture against Reading had the potential to be pivotal for both clubs.

However, in the period between Warnock’s appointment and the final day of the season, the Terriers had escaped relegation and the Royals had been condemned to it.

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There was also the sense that one era was giving way to another - fans said goodbye to their veteran saviour Warnock as prospective new owner Kevin M. Nagle watched on from the stands.

Image: George Wood/Getty ImagesImage: George Wood/Getty Images
Image: George Wood/Getty Images

Six years ago, Huddersfield and Reading contested a Championship play-off final. Both had been forces to be reckoned with through the 2016/17 campaign and penalties were required to separate the sides in a tense final.

Neither club possesses as much quality on the pitch as they once did but their meeting on the final day of the 2022/23 season was won by individual moments of brilliance.

Josh Koroma broke the deadlock just four minutes into the second-half before the lead was doubled in spectacular fashion by substitute Joseph Hungbo.

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Hungbo’s strike was a bright light on a grey day in West Yorkshire and rendered Reading’s debutant goalkeeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke helpless.

Koroma’s effort was arguably less of a headline-grabber but the 24-year-old, who spent the first half of the season out on loan, was a livewire throughout and benefited from Brahima Diarra’s harassing of Boyce-Clarke.

Huddersfield were professional and did not have to be sensational against Reading players who appeared to be carrying the weight of a turbulent season.

The visitors did not manage a single shot on target and Lee Nicholls did not have much to deal with between the sticks.

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There was a familiar face in Reading’s starting line-up as ex-Huddersfield defender Naby Sarr featured for the Royals. He very nearly gifted his former employers an opener with a weak pass towards Boyce-Clarke, but Jordan Rhodes was unable to capitalise.

Boyce-Clarke was also tested by a Josh Ruffels header after the defender met Jack Rudoni’s teasing delivery, but the goalkeeper managed to hold the effort.

There was only really one genuine scare for the Terriers in the first-half but Ruffels managed to make an excellent last-ditch tackle to thwart Femi Azeez as he closed in on goal.

Huddersfield upped the ante after the break and broke the deadlock early in the second half.

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Diarra stole possession from Boyce-Clarke before teeing up Koroma, who guided the ball past beyond the young stopper with pinpoint accuracy.

The Terriers came agonisingly close to doubling their lead through Jack Rudoni, but Sarr was on hand to hook off the line in dramatic fashion.

However, a second goal eventually came and it was worth the wait. Hungbo had been on the pitch for less than 15 minutes when he picked his spot and took aim, sending a thunderous shot flying beyond the outstretched palm of a helpless Boyce-Clarke.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Pearson, Lees, Helik, Ruffels; Kasumu (Hogg 87), Rudoni, Diarra (Hungbo 68), Koroma (Harratt 88), Headley (Jackson 45); Rhodes (Waghorn 68).

Unused substitutes: Vaclik, Edmonds-Green.

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Reading: Boyce-Clarke, Mbengue, Holmes, Sarr, Yiadom; (Guinness-Walker 86), McIntrye (Dann 79), Hendrick, Casadei (Senga-Ngoyi 69), Azeez, Hoilett (Abrefa 69); Long (Camara 86).

Unused substitutes: Lumley, Abbey.

Referee: Josh Smith (Lincolnshire)