HUDDERSFIELD TOWN captain Jonathan Hogg believes the club’s season is up and running just in time to capitalise on a “crucial” run of fixtures.
The Terriers ended their long wait for a first victory of the Premier League campaign by beating fellow strugglers Fulham on Monday night.
It was enough to lift David Wagner’s men up to third bottom and level on points with Newcastle United directly above the relegation zone.
With Huddersfield also at home this Saturday against West Ham United, Hogg believes those long overdue three points can be just the fillip Yorkshire’s sole top- flight representative needs in their quest for survival.
“The win changes everything,” said the 29-year-old to The Yorkshire Post. “Everyone had a smile on their faces back in the dressing room. That had been a long time coming.
“We all know the start hasn’t been great. It would be difficult in any dressing room if you aren’t winning. At times, it can be difficult to stay strong.
“The performances have been there but we have not been good enough to get over the line. So these three points are massive for us.”
Town’s winless run of ten games included meetings with seven of the top ten clubs in the Premier League.
Monday’s game with Fulham, however, heralded something of a sea-change with the next ten outings largely being against sides languishing in the bottom half of the table.
This run includes home fixtures against West Ham, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United, Southampton and then Burnley on January 2.
The next six or seven games are crucial for us. There are teams who are in and around us in the bottom half of the table. It is an important time for everyone.Jonathan Hogg
“We knew it was a hard run at the start of the season,” said the midfielder, who has worn the armband for much of the campaign due to club captain Tommy Smith not being able to get in the side.
“So, the next six or seven games are crucial for us. There are teams who are in and around us in the bottom half of the table. It is an important time for everyone.
“Our home form will be crucial, too. Our performances have been top class at home. Every game we have come away with our heads held high, even though the results haven’t been what we wanted.
“We need to now make these games winnable. Our home form is going to be massive in terms of keeping us in the league.”
Town’s victory over Fulham brought to an end a seven-game run on home soil without a goal that had already become a club record.
Had Huddersfield drawn another blank against the Cottagers, they would have become only the second team in English League history to fail to score in their first six home games of a season.
Mansfield Town with nine in the old Third Division way back in 1971-72 hold that unwanted distinction.
Christopher Schindler was initially credited with the header that ended a goal famine stretching back to April 14 only for the Premier League to later rule Fulham defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah had got the final touch.
Asked who had the unfortunate task of breaking the news to his German team-mate, Hogg laughed before adding: “It was harsh, wasn’t it?
“But, if I am honest, I don’t care who got the goal, as long as the ball went in the net. We just needed the win.”
The winning margin may have been slim but not even the 600 or so away fans in the 21,855 crowd would surely say the result was anything but fair.
Huddersfield dominated in the first half, hitting the crossbar through Philip Billing and also going close through Steve Mounie and Alex Pritchard. Fulham rallied late on but rarely looked like equalising.
“We knew the last ten to 15 minutes that we would have to dig in,” he added. “But this is a fit team. We defended for our lives.
“The big thing was we stuck to our gameplan. We pressed them high and won our tackles. And made the most of it.
“The fans helped by getting right behind us. We knew what we had to do. Perform, be on the front foot and be aggressive, and get over the line.
“We were also unlucky. Phil hit the bar, there were two or three other chances as well. Pritchy’s deflection, sometimes that goes in. I am just glad we got the goal.
“The luck hasn’t always been with us.
“We have hit the woodwork so many times. You need that bit of luck and, hopefully, we have turned the corner.”
Next up are West Ham United in a sell-out clash at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“Saturday is another massive game,” added Hogg.
“We know the importance, especially going into the international break.
“The lads will be up for it and, hopefully, the fans will be behind us again.
“We go in on a real high. That is what wins do for you. We need to now push on.”