RARELY can the clappers Huddersfield Town dish out free to supporters before every home game have taken such a justified battering as this.
Not just in their intended use as encouragement to the team but also in frustration as a combination of the crossbar and Paulo Gazzaniga’s agility in the Tottenham Hotspur goal ensured this was an afternoon when the Terriers again failed to find the net.
Frustration, too, at a penalty award in the first half that is perhaps most charitably described as ‘soft’ after Danny Rose took a tumble in the area and referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot.
Harry Kane predictably took advantage to double Tottenham’s lead and, in the process, become the scorer of the most Premier League goals at the John Smith’s Stadium.
His tally of four from just two visits is one more than both Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounie have managed in 14 months, a statistic that says plenty about the struggles that David Wagner’s men have endured since winning promotion.
This latest blank, a joint club record sixth in a row on home soil, means supporters who only watch their team in Huddersfield have to cast their minds back to April and Tom Ince’s dramatic winner against Watford for the last time anyone in blue and white found the net.
Not that this long wait was reflected in the noise levels generated by the 23,885 crowd, the din created by those ubiquitous clappers so incessant that Mauricio Pochettino later deemed the atmosphere to be “the most amazing in England”.
Whether the Argentinian is afforded a third taste next season remains to be seen with Town’s paltry haul of two points from seven games meaning the club is already up against it in the battle to avoid the drop.
Laurent Depoitre, however, insists there was enough in the performance against Pochettino’s men to suggest a corner will soon be turned.
It was one of our best performances of the season. Maybe the best – and I do feel we are getting better and better with each week. We deserved a goal, for sure. But we were unlucky.Huddersfield’s Laurent Depoitre
“We didn’t deserve the defeat,” said the Belgian stiker to The Yorkshire Post. “We pressed them high, they were in difficulties and that meant we had chances.
“It was one of our best performances of the season. Maybe the best – and I do feel we are getting better and better with each week. We deserved a goal, for sure. But we were unlucky.”
Hard luck stories, of course, can only go so far. October is upon us and Town are still chasing that first win.
But, as Depoitre suggests, there has been progress on a weekly basis in terms of performance.
Certainly, this lively display against one of the Premier League giants was a world away from the August surrender at Manchester City or the following week’s lifeless goalless draw at home to Cardiff City.
Where that stalemate against Neil Warnock’s men had seen Town offer little in the way of attacking intent even before Jonathan Hogg’s dismissal just after the hour, the visit of Spurs was very different.
From the start, the Terriers snapped and snarled at a side who were maybe hoping for an easier assignment ahead of tackling Barcelona in the Champions League this Wednesday.
Aaron Mooy led the way with the type of energetic display that has characterised much of the Australian’s time with the Terriers.
Alex Pritchard, back in the starting XI for the first time since that 6-1 hammering at the Etihad on August 19, took his lead from Mooy as he chased down even causes that looked totally lost in the hope of forcing a mistake.
Pressing a side with a front three as good as Spurs possess does bring its own dangers.
Sure enough, the 25th-minute opener came via one of those lightning quick breaks that makes Spurs such a joy to watch.
Terence Kongolo managed to halt the charge with a slide tackle on Lucas Moura.
But, as Town’s record signing lay prone with what Wagner believes is a “serious” hamstring injury, Moura regained his feet, passed to Kieran Trippier and his cross was met by Kane with a header that flew past Jonas Lossl.
Huddersfield’s response was to keep pressing the Londoners and Chris Lowe brought a fine save from Gazzaniga, the club’s third-choice goalkeeper justifying Pochettino’s faith by turning a 20-yard shot round the post.
Five minutes later, Spurs were two goals ahead after Florent Hadergjonaj, on for Kongolo, was adjudged by referee Pawson to have sent Rose tumbling.
Contact was minimal but Kane ignored the howls of protests from the home fans to send Lossl the wrong way and repeat his feat of netting a first-half double in the corresponding fixture last season.
Back came Town but luck again deserted the hosts in first half stoppage-time as Depoitre’s volley from Erik Durm’s cross cannoned back of the crossbar with Gazzaniga well beaten. “One or two centimetres lower and it is in the goal,” said the striker.
Further chances came and went in a second half that saw Tottenham take things down a gear, no doubt with one eye on Lionel Messi’s impending visit to Wembley.
Pritchard, such an excellent foil for Depoitre, shot straight at Gazzaniga and Lowe curled a free-kick just wide from 25 yards out.
Philip Billing’s downward header was then held by the Spurs goalkeeper, who saved his best for last when turning away a ferocious shot from loanee Isaac Mbenza to leave the home fans pounding their clappers in frustration once again.