Stoke City 0 Huddersfield Town 1: ‘Gritty performance’ earns Terriers win for relieved Danny Cowley

Juninho Bacuna.
Juninho Bacuna.
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Juninho Bacuna’s late winner heaped the pressure on under-fire Stoke manager Nathan Jones as his misfiring team were beaten 1-0 at home to fellow Sky Bet Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town.

Substitute Bacuna pounced in the 82nd minute to fire home for his first goal since March.

And his effort proved enough to secure the Terriers their first away league win since November 2018.

However, defeat for Stoke sees Jones’s failing side rooted to the basement of the Championship and put his position as manager under more strain.

Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley resisted the temptation to change his side despite having not won in his first three games in charge.

A credible 1-1 home draw with Millwall at the weekend meant Cowley kept faith with his team, including Liverpool loan keeper Kamil Grabara.

The visitors should have been ahead in the fifth minute but Elias Kachunga badly fluffed his lines. Karlan Grant teed the winger on the edge of the six-yard box but, with only Adam Federici to beat, he miscued horribly.

Striker Lee Gregory had a powerful close-range shot brilliantly blocked by Terriers skipper Christopher Schindler with the hosts’ first chance of the contest.

Both sides made attacking changes with French winger Adama Diakhaby introduced for the visitors, while Jones brought on striker Tyrese Campbell to liven things up in attack.

Isaac Mbenza was also brought on by Cowley as another attacking option – and how this game needed it.

Gregory headed well over from a Sam Clucas cross with 20 minutes remaining.

Substitute Campbell rifled wide of the left post and Gregory poked wide at the near post but it was Bacuna who won it at the death with his first goal of the season, a win which Town hope can kickstart their season.

“This is the type of gritty performance that you need to win games away from home,” Cowley said. “This win gives us something to build upon.

“This (the challenge) won’t be easy, but we saw enough fight and spirit to know we can do something.

“We carried threat on the counter-attack, but we fought harder at the other end when necessary.

“The substitutes came on and made a real impact for us, including the goal after we got a foothold in the game. Tonight was a real squad effort.

“We’re really pleased with the process, we’ve showed real resilience and determination.

“I thought we fought really hard and defended manfully when we needed to.

“We’re proud of the players for sticking with the game plan, that takes courage in itself.

“The subs brought a real dynamic threat for us, particularly on the counter-attack.

“I can lose and be happy and I can win and be happy, but that’s a really important win for the club and the staff.

“I don’t think everyone knows how hard it has been for the club and the strain it (a poor run of results) has put on everybody.

“I’m delighted for the supporters because they’ve been unbelievable. They’ve gone from disappointment to disappointment, but they’ve never lost enthusiasm.

“It was great for them to see a win and to put a smile on their faces.”

But Cowley added: “We haven’t got the fluidity that we would like, but we stayed true to our game plan.

“We knew we had to look after the ball better than we did at West Brom later in the game - and we did that.”

Cowley reserved special praise for match-winner Bacuna, and said: “Juninho Bacuna has everything you want in a player. His family will be proud.”

Stoke: Federici, Carter-Vickers, Batth, Martins Indi, McClean, Ndiaye, Clucas, Etebo, Allen (Duffy 87), Ince (Campbell 59), Gregory (Powell 81). Unused substitutes: Butland, Edwards, Lindsay, Woods.

Huddersfield: Grabara, Simpson, Elphick, Schindler, Jaden Brown, Chalobah (Bacuna 73), Hogg, Kachunga (Diakhaby 54), O’Brien, Ahearne-Grant, Campbell (Mbenza 62). Unused substitutes: Mounie, Stankovic, Schofield, Hadergjonaj.

Referee: R Jones (Northumberland).