Huddersfield Town 2 Luton 0: Terriers dine out at the expense of former target Elijah Adebayo to go third

THERE may have been a commotion at the recent Oscars ceremony, but when awards night comes around for the 2021-22 Championship season, few can argue that Huddersfield Town and Luton Town’s players are not worthy of a gong or two.

Jon Russell celebrates his opener for Huddersfield Town against Luton. Picture: PA
Jon Russell celebrates his opener for Huddersfield Town against Luton. Picture: PA

As for which one will be crowned as the division's surprise high achievers come season's end, Huddersfield moved into the box seat on Monday night.

Both these clubs have refreshingly lit up the second-tier landscape this season, much as Barnsley did in 2020-21.

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In the process, they have provided two of the Championship stories of the campaign.

The positive story of this particular evening unquestionably belonged to Huddersfield, who grasped the opportunity to move up to third spot as opposed to their rivals.

After his dramatic goalscoring intervention in the home game against Cardiff City in February, Jon Russell came up with a sequel, if not quite so late.

On a night which was not particularly exceptional as a spectacle, the Londoner busy making a name for himself up north came up with something head-turning just before the hour mark.

His lob after Luton switched off from Pipa’s throw was inch-perfect.

At the other end, a matter of inches also proved the difference 11 minutes later. In a play-off race of fine margins, it could well be highly consequential.

It just so happened that Huddersfield fans were afforded a bit of schadenfreude in the process.

Elijah Adebayo, who turned down a move to West Yorkshire in favour of Bedfordshire in the winter window of 2021, had scored 16 goals this season in the colours of Luton.

There was no 17th with his penalty hitting the outside of the post after Danel Sinani was penalised after James Bree got on the wrong side of him and fell to the deck.

It was the cue to a bit of a kerfuffle before order was restored. Speaking of 17, this was also Town's 17th clean sheet of a season which has been reassuringly consistent from a defensive perspective.

The breaks belonged to those in blue and white and a late second from substitute Naby Sarr, who headed home after being left unmarked at the far post following Sorba Thomas's corner on the left provided goalscoring gloss from an unlikely source.

After a happy Monday, Town move onto Good Friday at home to QPR. Another win and the finish line will start to close in.

With three of their final five league matches being on home soil, the Terriers are in excellent position to finish off the job and avoid their fates going right down to the wire.

Separated by one point and one position in the table before kick-off, this always had the makings of a tight encounter and so it proved for the most of the game before Sarr's goal sealed the deal.

Town’s patient, probing style contrasted with Luton’s more direct approach. It was a question of who would blink in the second half - or maybe make a costly mistake.

What arrived instead was a glorious moment from Russell, while Adebayo provided arguably the more significant moment.

Town, who restored Danny Ward and Jonathan Hogg to the starting line-up alongside Pipa and Sinani, posted the bigger semblance of threat all night. The validity of their win should not be doubted.

An imposing spell midway through the first half saw Fred Onyedinma’s clearing header fly just wide of his own goal, while Hatters keeper James Shea was forced to improvise to block a fierce shot from Thomas which took a ricochet off Sonny Bradley and then Levi Colwill with his feet before gratefully gathering the loose ball.

Shea had also been forced into meaningful work to block Sinani’s shot at his near post, with his Town counterpart Lee Nicholls called into action just once before the break to keep out a bobbling low shot from Harry Cornick.

Testament to Luton’s lack of discernible impression in the first half was the fact they did not even register a corner. Soon after the restart, they delivered a warning when a gem of a right-wing cross from Bree just evaded Adebayo at the far post.

At the other end, a telling touch from Kai Naismith got in the way of a rasping strike from Sinani which was otherwise destined for the net. Fortunately, Town did not have to rue that moment for long courtesy of Russell.

Adebayo then had his moment to forget before Sarr chose an opportune time to register his first goal since the opening day of the season. Job done, now for QPR.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton, Lees, Colwill, Toffolo; Russell, Hogg, O’Brien; Sinani (Holmes 77), Ward (Sarr 85), Thomas (Rhodes 90). Substitutes unused: Blackman, Koroma, Turton, Eiting.

Luton Town: Shea; Bree, Bradley, Naismith; Onyedinma, Mpanzu (Snodgrass 35), Lansbury (Potts 58), Bell; A Campbell; Cornick (Hylton 81), Adebayo. Substitutes unused: Isted, Berry, Kioso, Muskwe.

Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).