Verdict – Huddersfield Town 0 Crystal Palace 1: Terriers must rediscover goal-scoring mojo

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates scoring his side's first goal (Pictures: PA)
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates scoring his side's first goal (Pictures: PA)
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NOT since the dying days of a truly sorry season that ended in relegation from the top flight in 1972 have Huddersfield Town gone half-a-dozen consecutive home games without scoring.

That unwanted record, however, is within sight after the Terriers were condemned to defeat by Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha.

He struck with a quite sublime individual effort seven minutes before the break that was worthy of winning any contest.

Come the final whistle, however, Zaha once again underlining his value to the Londoners was far from the only talking point with Huddersfield’s oh-so-familiar inability to find the net featuring heavily in any post-match chatter among the 23,696 crowd.

Not that this fifth home blank in a row was through the want of trying.

Aaron Mooy struck the inside of the post with a volley on the hour. Florent Hadergjonaj and Philip Billing were equally unfortunate to be denied an equaliser during a second-half rally by the hosts.

Arm wrestle: Huddersfield Town's Terence Kongolo gets to grips with Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew

Arm wrestle: Huddersfield Town's Terence Kongolo gets to grips with Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew

But, really, this was an afternoon when Town’s lack of a cutting edge up front was laid bare for all to see.

Tom Ince, who joined Stoke City for £10m in the summer, remains the last Terrier to score at the John Smith’s Stadium – and that was way back on April 14 against Watford.

With Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool the next two visitors to the West Riding, an unwanted slice of history may well be beckoning for David Wagner’s men.

One man, however, who insists the current crop can avoid even matching the class of 1971-72 is Elias Kachunga, the club’s 12-goal top-scorer in the campaign that ended with Town clinching promotion back to the top flight.

We hit the post, the goalie (Wayne Hennessey) made two unbelievable saves. Maybe we need that little bit more concentration at the finish.

Elias Kachunga

“I felt we were unlucky and it was really frustrating,” the 26-year-old told The Yorkshire Post. “We played such a good game at home and showed again that we are a really good team in the Premier League.

“But we have to learn to put the ball in the net. That was our only mistake against Crystal Palace.

“We hit the post, the goalie (Wayne Hennessey) made two unbelievable saves. Maybe we need that little bit more concentration at the finish.

“There are a few situations we have to work on but it is better to have these chances than not have them. We had those chances, and if we can turn those into goals then we will be fine.

Oh no: Huddersfield Town's Philip Billing reacts after missing a  chance.

Oh no: Huddersfield Town's Philip Billing reacts after missing a chance.

“There were games last season when we had not scored and just needed that bit of luck. Then everything came together.”

Goalscoring, of course, was a major problem for Town last term. A tally of 28 was the joint lowest in the Premier League along with relegated Swansea City, while the Yorkshire outfit failed to score in 21 of 38 outings.

Wagner’s Terriers also matched an unwanted club record when they went seven away games in a row without scoring.

Kachunga ended that barren run in a 4-1 victory at Watford on a December afternoon that saw Wagner’s men create an impressive 15 chances.

Town had an identical number of opportunities against Palace but the killer instinct evident at Vicarage Road was missing.

Steve Mounie should have done better than head just over the crossbar when picked out by Chris Lowe in the 17th minute.

Another super delivery from Lowe was also begging to be converted later in the first half, this time Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen and Mounie unable to apply the finishing touch to a free-kick that flashed across the six-yard area.

Zaha showed Huddersfield how it was done just before the break. Collecting the ball out wide on Town’s right flank, he made light work of getting past both Hadergjonaj and Kachunga to burst into the penalty area.

Several yellow shirts may have been pouring forward in support but Zaha had just one intention and his searing right-foot shot flew beyond Jonas Lossl and into the roof of the net. “You have to take your hat off to a player like that,” admitted Town’s Danish international goalkeeper. “That was world-class.

“I don’t feel like I could have done any more. It was incredible from him.”

The hosts tried valiantly after the break to cancel out Zaha’s bit of magic as Lowe picked out Mooy, whose first-time volley crashed against the inside of the post with Hennessey beaten.

Hadergjonaj was then left cursing his luck after Hennessey beat away the follow-up before Town launched a late bombardment of the Palace goal.

Mounie stabbed wide from close range after latching on to a shot from Mooy, his embarrassment at failing to hit the target eased only slightly by the belated raising of a linesman’s flag.

There was still time for one last chance but, again, Palace proved equal as Billing’s goalbound shot was diverted behind by James McArthur.

Moments later, the final whistle blew and the warm ovation from the home fans spoke volumes about their side’s display.

Nevertheless, Huddersfield need to rediscover their goal-scoring mojo on home soil and fast or this is going to be a season that will soon feel every bit as long as that horror show of 1971-72.