SO, there is life in the old Terrier yet.
After the sort of horrific run that would have crushed most clubs, Huddersfield Town last night came out fighting to claim a first victory in three months.
Steve Mounie’s dramatic stoppage-time strike from close range capped a fine display to earn Jan Siewert a first win in English football at the fifth attempt.
It was a deserved three points, too, with Town the better team, especially in a second half when all the chances fell to the hosts.
That it took until the 91st minute for the breakthrough to come only added to the sense of jubilation at the final whistle as the John Smith’s Stadium saluted a team who have taken more bodyblows than your average boxer in recent weeks and yet refused to stay down.
Head coach Siewert deserves tremendous credit for this win. He had been left fuming by Town’s feeble display in losing 2-0 at Newcastle last Saturday and made sure the players were in no doubt as to his feelings in the away dressing room at St James’ Park.
The German had also promised “fresh legs” for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers and he was as good as his word with eight changes to his starting XI.
Jon Gorenc Stankovic was among those brought in from the cold to anchor a midfield diamond and the Slovenian did a sterling job.
The barrier he provided in front of the back four meant even Wolves’ trickiest players found the going tough due to a lack of space.
Christopher Schindler and Terence Kongolo, the latter another restored to the starting line-up, followed Stankovic’s lead with performances so impeccable that Jonas Lossl did not have a save to make all night.
Quite a feat against a Wolves side who sit seventh in the table and can claim Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur among their victims since returning to the top flight.
Allied to this defensive steel was an attacking threat, especially after half-time, that made a mockery of Huddersfield’s sorry goalscoring record this season.
Town may have had to wait for the winner, but it had been coming. Rui Patricio had been kept busy in the second half and Wolves could have few complaints at slipping to defeat against Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative for a second time in 93 days.
Aaron Mooy, the scorer of the two goals that had brought victory at Molineux back in November, played a huge role in the winner after possession had been won via a crunching tackle from Juninho Bacuna.
He ghosted past Jonny Otto wide on the right with a lovely piece of skill before sending over a cross that found Karlan Grant via Wily Bolly’s outstretched foot.
The January signing from Charlton Athletic sent the ball back across goal allowing Mounie to finish from close range.
Cue celebrations the kind of which the John Smith’s Stadium had not seen since the Bonfire Night victory over Fulham.
Since then Huddersfield had lost seven home games in a row so this was the perfect tonic for chairman Dean Hoyle, again in the directors’ box as he continues to recover from a serious bout of pancreatitis. Even if Mounie had not managed to clinch all three points this would still have been a night when a sense of pride was restored.
Town fans in the 22,714 crowd had displayed plenty of self-deprecating humour during the first half with chants of ‘Championship, we’re on our way’ and ‘How s*** must you be, we’re drawing 0-0’.
But there is no doubt just how much the run of 14 games that had yielded just one point since beating Wolves the first time around had hurt Huddersfield and their supporters.
It is why even being level at the break had been enough to solicit not only a standing ovation but also a pat on the back from Siewert for every Terriers player as they left the field.
Neither goalkeeper had a save to make in those opening 45 minutes, the best chance having fallen to Matt Doherty in the 26th minute only for the full-back to fire wide.
The second half, though, was a different story with Rui Patricio called into action within two minutes of the restart when he had to get down smartly to save a Stankovic header.
Mounie twice then went close either side of Jonathan Hogg’s glancing header just clearing the bar before Town’s second-half endeavours were rewarded with a late, late winner that sent the home fans into raptures.
Huddersfield Town: Lossl; Duhaney (Bacuna 46), Schindler, Kongolo, Durm; Stankovic (Kachunga 82), Hogg, Billing, Pritchard (Mooy 78); Mounie, Grant. Unused substitutes: Hamer, Lowe, Depoitre, Jorgensen.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves (Costa 78), Moutinho (Gibbs-White 65), Jonny; Jimenez, Jota (Cavaleiro 65). Unused substitutes: Ruddy, Saiss, Vinagre, Traore.
Referee: D Coote (Nottinghamshire).