Huddersfield Town 2 Wycombe 3 - Terriers plumb depths in appalling loss

FOR SEVERAL weeks, the significance of this particular fixture had increased for Huddersfield Town.

Juninho Bacuna puts Huddersfield Town in front against Wycombe. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

To the optimists, it was the route for salvation after a grim and worrying start to the new year.

For the pessimists, it was one they dare not lose if they are not to be thrown head first into a relegation battle.

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After this desperate result following a desperate second-half which was totally dominated by Wycombe en route to a thoroughly deserved victory, it is very difficult to be optimistic.

As it stands, Town are firmly in the relegation picture. They are now without a league win in 2021 and have not won in seven matches since a 2-1 victory over Blackburn on December 28.

Just as Hull City fell at a rate of knots of last term, so the alarm bells are now reverberating for Carlos Corberan’s side.

It could - and should have been so different,

Two excellent goals in the first half from Juninho Bacuna and Isaac Mbenza saw Town head towards a relieving victory.

But the game turned when Anis Mehmeti netted in the third minute of stoppage time and it was the precursor to almost total domination from Wycombe on the resumption.

After a Joe Jacobsen penalty drew them level, Wanderers went for the kill and it arrived when Josh Knight netted a late winner after Town - all over the place in the second half - failed to cope with a free-kick.

It was everything that Wycombe deserved following a second half in which they totally dominated and showed leadership, desire, aptitude and heart in marked contrast to the hosts who were simply appalling.

Town made just one change to the side who drew at Luton and it was an enforced one with Alex Vallejo coming in for the suspended Harry Toffolo and Lewis O’Brien switching to left-back for the hosts, whose bench includes Richard Stearman and Sorba Thomas.

With both sides boasting such grim runs of form, the odds on an entertaining spectacle were possibly fairly low, but in the event, a very watchable and open spectacle ensued amid bitter cold.

The hosts’ offensive work provided plenty to enthuse supporters watching by the fireside at home and delivered two excellently manufactured goals.

Frazier Campbell, a player criticised at times regarding his goals record, but whose qualities as a team player are clear for all to see, was at the hub of both strikes for Town - and played an integral part in the build-up.

His delightful volley across goal following Vallejo’s sweeping crossfield pass from left to right was technically exquisite and laid the opener on a plate for Bacuna, who continued his penchant for scoring some key goals for Town by nodding home from close in on 18 minutes.

An incisive counter in the 41st minute saw Campbell at the heart of things again as he produced some neat play in the centre of the pitch before finding Pipa, who slotted in Mbenza on the left.

The winger cut inside to fire home a clinical right-footed drive for his fourth goal of the campaign and all was set fair and looking good.

Unfortunately, Wycombe - who brought much more to the table going forward than they did at Hillsborough in midweek - had other ideas.

The Chairboys had threatened, most notably when Naby Sarr cleared a downward angled volley off the line from Uche Ikpeazu and got their reward through the lively Mehmeti, their most dangerous player in the first half.

He was picked out by Daryl Horgan before firing home a pinpoint low drive in impressive fashion to give Town something to ponder moments before the interval.

It was an unwelcome development for Town ahead of a key second-half in the context of their season.

A Wycombe defence who have not kept a clean sheet on their Championship travels so far this term had it easier on the restart. They almost had the deck chair out at times.

Town, who also had first-half chances through Duane Holmes and Pipa - which Wanderers keeper Ryan Allsop dealt with - were far more unconvincing.

Wycombe, approaching the last-chance saloon in terms of their season’s hopes, soon sensed the indecision among a home side who lost their way alarmingly.

A warning was posted when Horgan fired wide after Ryan Schofield raced out of goal and could not collect a free-kick.

It was not heeded with powerhouse Ikpeazu - who put himself about in impressive fashion and caused problems at times - cut inside on the right to beat Richard Keogh before being caught in the box by Jonathan Hogg for a clear-cut penalty.

Jacobsen sent Schofield the wrong way and it was cue for Wanderers to push for a third.

It neatly came when a key reaction save from Schofield turned away Horgan’s header before McCleary cut inside and saw his curler fly just over.

Town had lost the initiative, were losing battles and could not get going again and were starting to look ragged with the composure coming from those in yellow jerseys.

Anthony Stewart went close to bundling in a third goal, with Town all at sea at the back.

Their dominance was confirmed when Knight struck in a second half when all the voices that you heard belonged to Wycombe players and Town’s heads dropped.

Huddersfield Town: Schofield; Pipa, Keogh, Sarr, O’Brien; Hogg, Vallejo (Pritchard 68); Bacuna, Holmes (High 80), Mbenza, (Thomas 87) Campbell: Substitutes unused: Leutwiler, Stearman, Duhaney, Crichlow, Rowe, Phillips.

Wycombe Wanderers: Allsop; Grimmer, Stewart, Tafazolli, Jacobsen (Obita 73); Knight, Wheeler; McCleary (Onyedinma 83), Mehmeti; Horgan; Ikpeazu. Substitutes unused: Anderson, Kashket, Muskwe, Thompson, Samuel, McCarthy, Ofoborh.