THE smiles were back in Huddersfield yesterday and it wasn’t just the unseasonably pleasant weather that was responsible.
Town’s victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers the previous evening had lifted everyone. Where the previous three months had brought increasing despair as the defeats piled up, suddenly the rest of the season did not feel like the prison sentence it once had.
Relegation remains the club’s most likely fate. But, if Tuesday is anything to go by, at least if Jan Siewert’s men are to go down then they will do so swinging a few punches along the way.
“We try to keep going until the end,” said Steve Mounie, the goalscoring hero after netting the 91st minute winner against Wolves.
“Even though we know it will be very difficult we have fight to the end for our fans, first of all.”
The victory over Nuno Espirito Santo was a personal triumph for Siewert. The German may have been keen to praise his players and the team ethic that ensured Wanderers’ attack failed to register a single effort on target.
But, in making eight changes – an unheard of number for back-to-back league games – that included a host of eye-raising selections, the 36-year-old was taking a huge risk.
Defeat would have seen Siewert match Eric Black, then of Aston Villa, and Mick McCarthy, from his time at Sunderland, in losing his first five Premier League matches.
A joint record, in fact, that could have become a millstone round the Town chief’s neck going into Saturday’s trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Instead, Siewert’s reign finally has lift-off after a fine display from Huddersfield that has at least partly lifted the storm clouds that had had been gathering over the John Smith’s Stadium.
“I don’t know why but I believed a goal would come,” he said. “I said to the boys at half-time in the dressing room, ‘We may get one chance’. In the end, we deserved it so much.
“I felt disappointed after the first four games because I know what the club deserves. I believe in this squad. I knew it would take time.
“I was pleased for the fans. They have supported us right from the beginning. It is unbelievable how brilliant they are. It isn’t just the squad, the staff or the club, it is all of us. The supporters deserve this as much as anyone.
“I told them I will fight to the end, We will keep on fighting. We have 10 games to go and many things are possible. It isn’t over. Everyone is writing us off. But in each game we keep on fighting. Everything is possible.”
Bold words, but at least ones that his players this time justified via a performance that could not have been more contrasting to the surrender at Newcastle United just three days earlier.
The challenge now, of course, is to take Tuesday’s performance into a trio of fixtures preceding the next international break against Brighton, Bournemouth and West Ham that offer potential for the accruing of more points.
“An amazing feeling to win this game,” said Jon Gorenc Stankovic, deployed at the bottom of a midfield diamond against Wolves.
“The emotion was unbelievable.
“Everyone fought for it and gave everything. We deserved the win and we can now move forward from here.
“Let’s hope we can continue with this feeling at Brighton. It can really lift spirit and confidence.”