Huddersfield Town put prettiness aside to win Hull City arm wrestle

If pure football was what you were after, Huddersfield Town was not the place to be on Saturday afternoon.

The best thing you could say about Duane Holmes's goal was that it was so out of keeping with a game which was not just intense, but too intense. The opening goal in the 2-0 win, bundled in by a combination of Tom Lees and Richie Smallwood at a corner, was far more emblematic of the afternoon.

Perhaps a year ago, the Terriers might have seen winning like this as beneath them, but in 2021 they have become much more pragmatic in their football. Hull City could take some comfort from the fact that whilst the pre-international break win over Middlesbrough could not be built on, they are at least showing the fight of true Tigers. Jacob Greaves was outstanding defensively, even better than opposition defender Matty Pearson.

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They will need a bit more than just that, though, if they are to stay in the Championship next season.

CELEBRATIONS: Levi Colwill and Tom Lees celebrate the opening goal

For all their effort, Hull could not really claim to be hard done-by in a game that was niggly and rarely more than scrappy. Huddersfield gritted their teeth and did enough.

The scrappiness was never more evident than in the opening goal, even if plenty of thought went into it.

Matt Ingram was unable to stop Sorba Thomas's cross deflecting behind for a corner and the Terriers players all line up behind the six-yard box before it was delivered. When it came over, Hull's defenders seemed more interested in tag-team wrestling than winning the ball. Lees, brilliantly denied by Ingram at an earlier corner, and Smallwood both went for it and the ball was bundled over the line for a ninth-minute opener.

It was fitting for a game which was played with huge intensity, the in-your-face pressing of both sides but especially Huddersfield making it hard for anyone to get their foot on the ball and play.

Keane Lewis-Potter was playing behind split strikers as Hull moved on from the three at the back which brought victory over Middlesbrough to a 4-3-1-2, but it was hard for him to dominate a game like this.

There were odd flickers of quality, though, and Lewis-Potter provided one in the 21st minute, as did Lee Nicholls with the save he made from his free-kick.

Greaves's defending was equally in keeping with the occasion, making a great tackle on Thomas, picked out in far too much space by Danel Sinani after drifting into the middle. He was also involved in a heavy clash of heads winning an important header against Lewis O'Brien as Huddersfield countered from a George Honeyman cross, producing one of their own from Duane Holmes at the other end.

He also had a good header touched behind for a corner at the end of the half.

Ingram had not long before made another good save, from Sinani's deflected shot.

When Lewis O'Brien did really well to go on the outside and whip a cross over in the second half, Greaves was again first to it, frustrating Danny Ward.

Smallwood was in danger of stepping the mark so when he was spoken to after a relatively innocuous foul, Grant McCann withdrew his captain.

Holmes and Thomas both mistimed volleys either side of a Lewis-Potter shot striking the backside of the turning Lees.

So to say Holmes's goal came as a bit of a shock not in terms of the flow of the game, but the quality. A corner fell t him lurking at the back of the area after clearing everyone and he patiently got the ball out of his feet nd into space before curling it in.

Although substitute Naby Sarr made an excellent block as Mallik Wilks spent a bit too long thinking about his shot, Tom Eaves went narrowly wide on the spin, then Wilks fizzed one past the post, the three points looked secure as soon as Holme's s 74th-minute effort hit the net.

They were hard-fought but well earned.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Pearson(Turton 71), Lees, Colwill; Thomas (Sarr 75), Hogg, O'Brien, Toffolo; Sinani (High 65), Holmes; Ward.

Unused substitute: Koroma, Aarons, Campbell, Bilokapic.

Hull City: Ingram; Coyle, Bernard, Greaves, Elder; Honeyman (Moncur 71), Smallwood (Docherty 56), Cannon; Lewis-Potter; Wilks, Smith (Eaves 67).

Unused substitute: Emmanuel, Baxter, McLoughlin, Magennis.

Referee: R Jones (Merseyside).