Huddersfield Town 1 Derby County 2 – Same old story as Terriers suffer on opening night

NEW SEASON, new start?

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Tom Lawrence celebrates after scoring his and Derby County's second goal against Huddersfield Town at John Smith's Stadium. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images

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Lessons from history for Terriers

More like the same old frailties coming back to haunt Huddersfield Town on their return to the Championship.

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Two first-half goals in quick succession from Tom Lawrence were enough to seal victory for Derby County on a night when the Terriers had no-one to blame but themselves.

Huddersfield Town's Aaron Mooy (left) and Derby County's Mason Bennett battle for the ball. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Sure, Jan Siewert’s side gave everything and pushed a side who had reached last season’s play-off final all the way.

But the shortcomings that made the 2018-19 campaign such a miserable affair for all at the John Smith’s Stadium were there for all to see.

Town’s Achilles heel in the top flight was an inability to find the net. They scored just 22 goals in 38 games last term despite creating a host of chances, particularly in the four months up to Christmas.

That, together with a tendency to commit the sort of defensive blunders that would shame a schoolboy, combined to send Huddersfield down in record-equalling time in the Premier League era.

Derby County's Tom Lawrence scores his side's second goal. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

On last night’s evidence, neither problem has been solved. Tommy Elphick’s mistake for the opening goal was dreadful, as was the standard of finishing by the hosts.

Karlan Grant did tuck away his first half penalty with aplomb. But too many others in blue and white were profligate in the extreme.

Adama Diakhaby wasted a gilt-edged opportunity to give Town the ideal start. Elias Kachunga did the same in the closing stages, blazing high and wide when he had been granted the freedom of the Derby penalty area.

Sure, Rams goalkeeper Kelle Roos did save bravely from Christopher Schindler early in the second half.

Derby County manager Phillip Cocu. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

He was also fortunate to see a fizzing drive from Aaron Mooy ten or so minutes later flash just wide of his left-hand post when half the 22,596 crowd thought the ball had found the net.

But, if Huddersfield are to achieve anything now back in the Championship, this profligate streak has to be eradicated.

So, too, do the sort of individual errors that led to Derby, linked with a move to make Wayne Rooney player-coach on Phillip Cocu’s staff, breaking the deadlock midway through the first half.

The hosts started brightly in their new sponsorless shirts only to fall behind to a goal every bit as bad as any of the 78 conceded during the annus horribilis that saw relegation confirmed with six games to spare.

Huddersfield Town manager Jan Siewert. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Elphick, on his bow after joining from Aston Villa, made a total hash of what should have been a routine header back to fellow debutant, Kamil Grabara, by somehow connecting instead with his shoulder. The ball flew sideways from the Huddersfield defender, meaning Grabara had no option but to dart from his penalty area and try to avert the danger with his own head.

All the Liverpool goalkeeper could do, however, was find Lawrence, who was left with the simple task of lobbing the ball into the unguarded net.

It was a calamitous way to fall behind, not least because there had seemed little danger before an error by Elphick that was compounded just three minutes later by Derby doubling their advantage.

Lawrence again found the net, though this time he needed no help from anyone in the home ranks.

Collecting the ball from Florian Jozefzoon on the edge of the penalty area, he quickly exchanged passes with Jayden Bogle.

Then, after creating a sliver of space for himself, the Rams midfielder unleashed an unstoppable left foot shot.

Last season, conceding twice in such quick succession would have flattened the Terriers. This time, though, Siewert’s men responded fine style.

A quite sublime turn from Juninho Bacuna left Kieran Dowell so wrong-footed he stood little chance of stopping the Dutch midfielder legally.

Sure enough, the one-time Sheffield United loanee stuck out a leg but only served to send Bacuna crashing to the floor. Referee Geoff Eltringham pointed to the spot and Grant did the rest from 12 yards.

Town were the better team after the break but, as with last term, unable to turn that superiority into even one goal.

Schindler was denied by Roos from close range shortly after the restart. Mooy later shot narrowly wide before the moment arrived that just about summed up Town’s night.

Just 12 minutes remained when Terence Kongolo’s cross found Elias Kachunga unmarked just outside the six yard box.

Considering the DR Congo international was Town’s top scorer in the promotion season, he seemed as good a man as any for such a great opportunity to fall to.

His shot, however, was so wayward that those sitting in the upper tier behind Roos’ goal were more in danger than the net.

After that, Town never looked like rescuing a point to leave those 1,863 Rams fans who had made the trip excitedly chatting about Lawrence’s double and the possible arrival of Rooney on the return journey south.

Huddersfield Town: Grabara; Hadergjonaj, Elphick, Schindler, Kongolo; Mooy, Hogg, Bacuna (Mbenza 62); Diakhaby (Kachunga 67), Grant (Quaner 90), Pritchard. Unused substitutes: Schofield, Bockhorn, Stankovic, O’Brien.

Derby County: Roos; Bogle, Keogh, Clarke, Malone; Evans, Huddlestone; Jozefzoon (Bennett 74), Dowell (Knight. 88), Lawrence; Waghorn. Unused substitutes: Mitchell, Shinnie, Marriott, Lowe, Davies.

Referee: G Eltringham (County Durham).