Huddersfield Town 3 Stoke City 1: Terriers have lift-off to get season off and running and have a new hero in Yuta Nakayama

DANNY SCHOFIELD spoke about action speaking louder than words in his opening programme notes and his players answered him in the affirmative to ensure Huddersfield Town's season has lift-off.

A very good first half saw Yuta Nakayama - who might just become a bit of a favourite in these parts - crown his full league debut with a cracking 40th-minute header, spinning away from his marker superbly before powering the ball home from Sorba Thomas's corner.

It was just reward for an on-message and much needed uplift from the hosts in the first period as they aimed to vanquish memories of a dreadful start of the season.

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Stoke responded in the second period, with Lewis Baker atoning for a 20th-minute penalty save - when he was denied by Lee Nicholls to blast home a fine leveller.

Yuta Nakayama heads Huddersfield Town in front against Stoke City to crown an excellent full league debut. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Yuta Nakayama heads Huddersfield Town in front against Stoke City to crown an excellent full league debut. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Yuta Nakayama heads Huddersfield Town in front against Stoke City to crown an excellent full league debut. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

But Town took it on the chin, dug in when it was turning to turn sour again and finished strongly and showed their character to chisel out a key victory, the first of the Schofield era to provide the balm to a hard start.

Danny Ward got the all-important second 13 minutes from time and substitute Jordan Rhodes sealed it with his second goal in successive home games and all was well again.

Town's performances this season had been particularly dire in the first half of matches and they set about with intent in terms of doing something about that in the scorching sun against Stoke.

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A switch back to 3-4-3 - 5-4-1 without the ball - was what many Town punters were calling for before the game and home players looked much more comfortable and happier and more of a fluid team in a rewind to better times last season.

When you are down on your luck, you also need a bit of fortune and Town got that when Stoke were awarded a 20th-minute spot-kick which threatened to undone an encouraging start from the hosts in terms of tempo, structure and shape.

It was the right call, with a needless high boot from Josh Ruffels catching Josh Laurent with referee Matthew Donohue pointing to the spot after consulting with a linesman.

Fortunately, Town have one of the best keepers in the division in Nicholls and he guessed right to fling himself to the left to keep out Baker's effort.

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Moments after, the ball was recycled and Ben WIlmot's shot was blocked by Tom Lees and fell invitingly into the path of Jacob Brown, whose low shot hit the post.

Town deserved that fortune in a half when Thomas was full of threat on the left and plenty of other strong contributions arriving across the pitch from the likes of Hogg, Turton, impressive debutant Kaine Kesler-Hayden and Nakayama. The Terriers looked a team and the spirit was back.

A wicked delivery from Thomas on the left just missed a Town player before the Welsh international produced another quality moment with Nakayama getting on the end of his corner to plant a fine header past Joe Bursik in a half in which the hosts fluidity, shape and tempo being impressive.

Despite the promise, there was the need to maintain concentration with Stoke likely to have received a few words of 'encouragement' at half-time from Michael O'Neil after a pretty passive first period.

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Stoke started with more purpose on the restart, attacking their 2,000 visiting contingent, some of whom had booed them off at the interval.

For Town, it was about keeping their discipline, structure and making the right decisions.

Unfortunately, their shape let them down at a key moment as they left a hole or two and Stoke seized on it to level.

With players caught out of position, Town failed to clear their lines, with a loose ball finding its way to Baker, who lashed home a fantastic flow drive which flew past Nicholls and gave him no chance.

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It was becoming sloppy from Town, who needed to regroup with Stoke starting to assume control in midfield especially - despite the best efforts of Hogg - with Thomas remaining their best outlet in the attacking third with.

Alertness at the back from Turton denied Gayle and moments later the striker had the ball in the net, only to thwarted by the offside flag.

The big development would arrive at the other end.

Loose play by Stoke's backline was seized upon by substitute Holmes, who teed up Holmes, who tucked the ball home from centre-forward range for his second goal of the campaign.

The goal floored Stoke and Town would seal it in the 86th minute.

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Rudoni's perceptive pass sent Holmes clear and he squared the ball to fellow substitute Rhodes to steer home a relieving third for Huddersfield.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton, Lees, Nakayama; Kesler-Hayden (Boyle 90), Hogg, Rudoni, Ruffels; Anjorin (Holmes 64), Ward (Rhodes 82), Thomas (Camara 82). Substitutes unused: Chapman, Russell, Koroma.

Stoke City: Bursik; Taylor, Flint, Wilmot; Sparrow (Campbell 79), Baker, Laurent (Clucas 79), Smallbone, Tymon; Brown, Gayle. Substitutes unused: Bonham, Jagielka, Clarke, Thompson, Kilkenny, Wright-Phillips.

Attendance: 18,680 (1,899 Stoke fans).

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