Huddersfield Town 1 Reading 2: Joao double ends Town's hopes of a milestone win

IT had to end some time.

Huddersfield Town striker Fraizer Campbell rises above Reading defender Tom Holmes to put the Terriers in front. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Huddersfield Town striker Fraizer Campbell rises above Reading defender Tom Holmes to put the Terriers in front. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Huddersfield Town named their same starting line-up for the fifth successive time for the first occasion since November 2009, but it was another milestone which was in their sights.

Namely a sixth consecutive home league victory, something that they previously achieved in the autumn of 2003.

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In the first half, things were looking good on that front after a cracking sixth-minute header from Fraizer Campbell provided them with the advantage.

But it was another striker in former Sheffield Wednesday marksman Lucas Joao who bagged an excellent brace in the space of 13 second half minutes to take his goal tally to 16 for the campaign - to play the decisive hand.

Reading showed their class on the resumption and while it was a disappointment for Town, they went down the right way.

Isaac Mbenza spurned two great opportunities to level, but it was Reading’s day in wintry West Yorkshire.

While Huddersfield’s side picked itself, Reading - despite an excellent draw at Swansea - rang the changes and there were some significant returns.

Top-scorer Joao, out of action since December 9, was the headline returnee, with former Hull City forward Sone Aluko also back in the side along with Sheffield United target John Swift.

With confidence coursing through their veins after their strong run of home form, Town were afforded a further fillip by way of a clinical moment in the early salvos.

Josh Laurent lost out in midfield to Juninho Bacuna, who soon supplied Mbenza, whose hanging right-wing cross was attacked with single-minded conviction by Campbell, with the target man beating Tom Holmes before powering home a majestic header for his fifth goal of the campaign - all in Huddersfield.

Clear in their game plan, well-oiled Town produced some nice pockets of trademark one-touch football going forward and going the other way, the hosts were impressive in their decision making.

That said, they were indebted on a couple of occasions, none moreso with the last action of the first half when Ryan Schofield made a blinding reaction save at the far post to keep out Holmes’s point-blank effort after a sublime free-kick from Swift.

A scuffed shot from Aluko after he afforded himself a clear sight of goal when he evaded a couple of challenges on the half-hour mark was also thankfully wide when it could and perhaps should have nestled in the back of the net..

Aluko also saw an early shot grasped by Schofield, but Town still controlled the tempo of the first half and their discipline and shape without the ball was strong, despite Reading having some good spells of possession and attempting to work the ball through the thirds..

Corberan will have still been wanting more from his side, but their collective application was still at a high level and firmly in evidence from a well-coached side who have cultivated a clear identity under the Spaniard relatively quickly.

Reading started the second half with intent with Swift firing a free-kick just over, but instantly, Town made a rapier thrust at the other end with an express counter by Toffolo and Lewis O’Brien, whose low cross just evaded the onrushing Mbenza.

Soon after, it was all square as Town’s mask slipped.

Joao evaded Edmonds-Green following Tom McIntyre and his finish showed the mark of quality as he deftly steered the ball low past Schofield.

It represented a jolt and a character examination for Huddersfield, but a good one all the same in a game that was intriguing and highly watchable with an accomplished Reading side playing their part..

Another touch of class from Joao would turn the game on its head not long after.

Substitute Michael Olise, soon after coming on, fed the Royals frontman and he cut inside before unleashing a brilliant low swerving shot which whistled past Schofield, who had no chance.

Instead of sitting on their gains, Reading pushed for a third as Town started to look jaded and a little bit short of ideas in comparison.

But given their impressive run at home, Town - who handed a debut from the bench to youngster Kieran Phillips - were always going to go down fighting.

Late pressure saw them go close to a leveller with Rafael making a fine reaction save to block a fierce half-volley from Mbenza, who then spurned a golden chance to equalise when he fired wide after being sent clear by Bacuna.

At the other end, Tomas Esteves struck the woodwork for the Royals.

Huddersfield Town: Schofield; Pipa, Edmonds-Green (Phillips 87), Sarr, Toffolo; Eiting (Pritchard 70), Hogg O'Brien, Bacuna; Mbenza, Campbell. Substitutes unused: Hamer, Vallejo, Duhaney, Crichlow, J Brown, Rowe, Jackson.

Reading: Rafael, Holmes, Morrison, McIntyre, Richards; Rinomhota, Laurent; Ejaria (Baldock 86), Aluko (Esteves 87), Swift (Olise 61); Joao (Semedo 81). Substitutes unused: Southwood, Watson, East, Puscas, Dorsett.

Referee: J Simpson (Lancashire).