IT is sobering to think that almost exactly two years to the day, Huddersfield Town’s ecstatic supporters were basking in the glow of an unforgettable 3-0 opening-day victory at Crystal Palace – which briefly moved them to the top of the Premier League.
How those times must seem like a world away this morning.
Sadly, the Terriers’ current reality is far less golden, with an unlucky 13th game without a victory in all competitions played out at a sparsely populated John Smith’s Stadium last night – with visits to HD1 becoming exercises in stoicism for beleaguered home patrons in these most testing of times.
Now boasting just one win in this competition in its various guises in four years, it is hardly a cup of joy for Huddersfield, while Jan Siewert’s first experience of knock-out football in England proved as unsatisfactory as most of the league games which have gone before under his watch.
Little respite was afforded the German – with patience wearing thin among the increasingly agitated Town supporters following an awful run of one win in 18 matches during his tenure.
Plenty of frustration no doubt too for Phil Hodgkinson, yet to herald a victory in his role as chairman of his boyhood club – with the boos among home supporters speaking volumes.
Little respite was afforded the German – with patience wearing thin among the increasingly agitated Town supporters following an awful run of one win in 18 matches during his tenure.Leon Wobschall
Prior to that, the main animation on the night from home followers arrived when Rajiv van La Parra and Steve Mounie were brought on in the final 20 minutes, but it was not the precursor to a change in fortunes.
As befits teams and a manager on that sort of run, Town were afforded little luck, with the hosts failing to level in a frenzied finale, with Lincoln surviving a big penalty scare after the ball struck Michael O’Connor’s arm, with Trevoh Chalobah then going down under pressure from the Imps midfielder.
But over the course of the piece, it was deservedly Lincoln’s night as they followed up Saturday’s league victory at Rotherham United with another occasion to savour in Yorkshire.
In total, seven players made their debuts for the hosts, with Town supporters getting their first competitive glimpse of summer signings Chalobah, Herbert Bockhorn, Josh Koroma and Reece Brown alongside with young keeper Ryan Schofield, central defender Rarmani Edmonds-Green and left-back Jaden Brown.
Ahead of the game, Siewert spoke about the importance of a number of players stepping up to hand him a selection dilemma or two ahead of Friday’s game with Fulham, but he was not answered in the affirmative in a largely disjointed, tentative first half.
The cohesion almost exclusively came from the Imps with a brief spell of conviction shortly before the break being the only redeeming feature for the hosts, who were second best in the opening period – allied to the goalless scoreline.
The reactions of Imps keeper Grant Smith may have been belatedly tested twice by Juninho Bacuna and a stinging shot from Jaden Brown in the build-up to the break, but it was the heroics of boyhood fan Schofield at the other end which ensured that Lincoln did not boast an interval lead which few could have begrudged them.
With ex-Town midfielder Jack Payne enjoying himself immensely on his first return to Huddersfield, Lincoln almost exclusively possessed the slickness and threat, but found a stubborn last line of defence in Schofield.
The debutant made a smart early tip-over to keep out Michael Bostwick’s header and then blocked at the feet of John Akinde after a lovely flick from Payne.
Schofield also did well to turn away a piledriver from Bruno Andrade and gather the rebound from Harry Anderson, who then tested the reactions of the home custodian with a fierce strike.
But the teenager was powerless to keep out Anderson’s side-footed low volley soon after Harry Toffolo’s cross.
It was no more than Lincoln merited, with a brief scare arriving when Reece Brown’s curler flashed wide.
Forced to chase the game, Town’s response was meek.
An incredible close-range miss almost on the goalline from Payne then handed the hosts a major reprieve and despite late pressure at the other end, there was no way through for Town – with irate fans making their feelings known in no uncertain terms at the end.
Huddersfield Town: Schofield; Bockhorn, Stankovic, Edmonds-Green, J Brown; Chalobah, Kachunga, Bacuna, R Brown (Mounie 76), Mbenza; Koroma (van La Parra 73). Unused substitutes: Coleman, Quaner, Hadergjonaj, O’Brien, Daly.
Lincoln City: Smith; Lewis, Bolger, Bostwick (Eardley 63), Toffolo; Morrell (O’Connor 49), Chapman; Anderson, Payne, Andrade; Akinde (Walker 70). Unused substitutes: Vickers, Adebayo-Smith, Grant, Sault.
Referee: P Wright (Merseyside).