How hard work brought survival for Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town's Alex Pritchard seen in action against Everton
Huddersfield Town's Alex Pritchard seen in action against Everton
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ON an afternoon when no less than 11 Premier League records were sent tumbling by champions Manchester City, one less celebrated landmark figure already belonging to a Yorkshire club was matched by Huddersfield Town.

In losing 1-0 to Arsenal on the final day, David Wagner’s men fired a blank for the 21st time in 38 league outings this term.

Considering only the Derby County side that finished rock bottom with just 11 points in 2007-08 have failed to score in as many games during the Premier League’s 26 seasons – and even then, the Rams found the net in 16 matches, one less than Town – underlines the size of Huddersfield’s achievement in beating the drop.

Improving the potency of a side that managed just 28 goals, the same tally as relegated Swansea City, has to be the priority once the club’s recruitment gets under way.

A couple more attacking midfield additions in the ilk of Alex Pritchard would help. The £10m January capture from Norwich City has made a big impact, his vision and ability to link play bringing an extra dimension to Town’s play.

This much was certainly evident on the final day, as the 25-year-old proved a constant problem for the Gunners’ defence. He created three gilt-edged opportunities for Tom Ince with the sort of killer passes that Huddersfield had struggled to find during the first half of the season.

Ince, who was unfortunate to see the third of those efforts kept out by a wonderful save from David Ospina, certainly believes the manner of Town’s attacking display, together with the renowned spirit that has proved so crucial over the past two years, provides encouragement for the future. “The performance, first of all, was excellent,” said the £7.25m signing from Derby County.

“Against a top four side – an Arsenal team with bags and bags of quality – I felt we were the better team throughout the whole match.

“We took it to them, created chances, put the ball in the final third and caused them problems. Unfortunately, we just weren’t able to get the goal.”

By failing to score in what was Arsene Wenger’s final match in English football, Huddersfield joined George Graham’s Leeds United from 1996-97 as the two sides to survive in the Premier League era despite failing to score in 21 games. Both also found the opposition net just 28 times.

All season, we fought for each other and fought for this club. The celebrations were great, because we knew how hard we had worked.

Tom Ince

Leeds finished 11th that season, thanks to conceding just 38 goals to the 58 let in by Town during 2017-18.

Ince, who featured in 33 of Town’s league games and scored the all-important winner against Watford last month, added: “From day one, we were written off as being bottom of the league and going down. But, as a squad and a club, we fought back. We worked hard for each other every week. We went into games knowing what we had to do.

“Of course, it wasn’t about the last day. We had done our jobs before then, by getting the draw at Chelsea.

“But, all season, we fought for each other and fought for this club. The celebrations were great, because we knew how hard we had worked.

“Considering the teams you have to face, it can be hard. We stuck together, worked hard and that continued from day one to the final game against Arsenal.

“If you do that and retain that togetherness, along with the belief, then it can take you a long way as a club.”