Huddersfield Town 1 Manchester United 1: Terriers give Dean Hoyle suitable send-off by denying Red Devils

IT was somewhat fitting that Dean Hoyle got to rise to his feet in joyous acclaim with a swell of blue-and-white pride one last time on home turf in his role as Huddersfield Town chairman.

A go-ahead, dynamic era that has put the club on the map ended with Town on the front foot and Hoyle’s natural competitive instincts will have derived satisfaction from the sight of his side refusing to be moved by a world-renowned footballing institution.

The Terriers’ identity harvested by Hoyle and David Wagner and displayed as a badge of honour during the club’s memorable previous two seasons may have been conspicuous in its absence in a grim 2018-19, but here was a little souvenir from a terrible year and a sweet reminder of the recent past.

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The defiance was like reacquainting yourself with an old friend.

Huddersfield Town's Isaac Mbenza threads the ball between David de Gea's legs to equalise against Manchester United (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).

It was a day when a defeat would have seen Town equal the record number of Premier League losses in a season of 29 – and also achieve the ignominious feat of registering their worst sequence of consecutive league losses at nine.

Failing to find the net would have also set another unwanted record, with Huddersfield on the cusp of becoming the first top-flight side to fail to reach ten home league goals for the season.

A stimulating leveller on the hour from winger Isaac Mbenza – his first goal in his torrid first season at the club – gloriously shredded that particular statistic and Hoyle was quick to applaud.

It earned Town a merited draw on a day when they became the first relegated Premier League club to take a point from a top-six side so far in 2018-19.

Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle salutes the fans after his final match in charge at the John Smith's Stadium that finished in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire).

For United, by contrast, there was opprobrium at another lame offering when a number of their players clearly went through the motions, yet it would have been disingenuous not to focus on the hunger and passion of those in home jerseys.

After witnessing 12 defeats in his opening 13 matches in the dug-out this represented a heartening episode for head coach Jan Siewert.

On an occasion that he will recall with fondness, he said: “Wolves and this one are definitely (the best). They were really fighting and I really enjoyed it and we showed heart on the pitch.

“For me, Dean Hoyle is such a great person and we wanted to give something back to him and the supporters, of course.

“It has been a tough season and everyone knows what a tough character Dean is. We wanted to give him a win and at the end it was possible. But this was a big performance. I believe in what I am doing and in the things that the players can do where they are 100 per cent on the front foot.”

Walking around the pitch with his family shortly after the final whistle to say his goodbyes in his final home match in charge at the John Smith’s Stadium, the respect between Hoyle and his Town brethren was immense. Hoyle revealed afterwards that United chief executive Ed Woodward had told him that he never seen scenes of such acclamation in the game before – and how the Old Trafford supremo must have looked on with envy.

It was an afternoon that saw insipid United finish outside the top four for the fourth time in six seasons and the recriminations came from those in red.

A further searching character examination looked on the cards when Town conceded a goal inside the first ten minutes for the third successive fixture with the portents looking ominous.

A tepid and unconvincing attempt by Jonas Lossl to keep out Scott McTominay’s 20-yarder hinted at a side desperate to pull down the curtain on a long season, but sometimes appearances can be deceptive.

A low drive that trickled just wide from Juninho Bacuna represented the first sign of hope, reinforced by the sight of Mbenza going close before David de Gea made a fine save with his legs to deny Karlan Grant.

United still had their moments at the other end, with Paul Pogba’s header hitting the woodwork, but the second goal which would have been the precursor to a Spring stroll did not transpire.

A moment of pure elation in a season to forget subsequently arrived on the hour. Quick thinking from Lossl saw him redeem himself from his earlier faux pas with his rapid clearance flying invitingly in the vicinity of Mbenza and, after Luke Shaw erred in his clearance, the winger burst clear before slotting the ball underneath the legs of De Gea.

An outpouring of pent-up emotion in a fraught season saw the Belgian wreck one corner flag in celebration – which necessitated a long delay for repairs – and how those in the home sections would have understood.

United’s foibles continued by virtue of a lack of due care and attention in front of goal from Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford before Lossl denied substitute Tahith Chong.

Pogba would soon strike the woodwork for a second time following a smart curler before de Gea showcased his prowess to again deny Grant with his legs – the stage was then set for Hoyle to bid farewell.