AS a respectful hush descended on Vicarage Road in tribute to the fallen ahead of next month’s Remembrance Sunday, a solitary banner suddenly appeared in the away seats.
A Huddersfield Town badge was clearly visible alongside the emblem of the Royal Air Force.
But it was the Latin inscription – Per Ardua Ad Astra – that most caught the eye. The translation reads ‘Through struggle to the stars’ and is the motto of the RAF.
By full-time it also pretty much summed up where the Terriers are at in the Premier League. A 3-0 defeat featuring defending that would shame a schoolboy had left the Terriers struggling badly.
The heights the club soared to last season by staying up seem a long way in the distance now that David Wagner’s men are back on the foot of the table.
To turn things around, Town are going to need all the fighting spirit that has characterised the near three years of Wagner’s reign.
For one-time record signing Steve Mounie, using the pain of this defeat to spark a reaction in the upcoming back-to-back home games against Fulham and West Ham United is paramount.
“These games are big,” the Benin striker told The Yorkshire Post. “We need to get points. We have not won one game since the beginning of the season and we are near the end of October now.
“That is not good enough. If we want to get somewhere in the Premier League, we need points. To get points, we need wins.
“In my whole career, this is the hardest I have known. The most frustrating. I have never started a season like this without a win.
“But when you come out of a situation like this, you are stronger. As a team, we have the spirit to come out of this situation and we will do that.”
Much of the chatter among the 20,457 crowd at half-time centred on the two goals that had given the Hornets a lead that, even allowing for the threat Huddersfield had posed Ben Foster’s goal during those opening 45 minutes, seemed unassailable.
Both had been pretty damn special. Roberto Pereyra’s 10th-minute opener was the pick, the former Juventus man having slalomed his way past five would-be tacklers en route to beating Jonas Lossl.
Gerard Deulofeu, on the opposite flank, beat just two Town defenders before finding the net but it was still a thrilling example of wingplay. Or it was if your loyalties lay with Watford.
From a Huddersfield perspective, both were eminently preventable. Or, as Terriers goalkeeper Lossl succinctly put it afterwards, “They were s*** goals from everyone”.
The Dane had a point. Pereyra should never have been allowed to get as far as he did after setting off from the touchline.
Erik Durm had two opportunities to stop him, at the start and end of the run. But others were just as culpable for not even attempting a tackle with Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen, Jonathan Hogg, Philip Billing and Chris Lowe all failing in their defensive duties.
Deulofeu was afforded similar freedom nine minutes later, as Lowe recklessly dived in and then Hogg as good as ushered the one-time Barcelona man into the penalty area.
Lossl then compounded these missed opportunities with a crouch that made up Deulofeu’s mind to aim for the roof of the net.
Town’s frustration at conceding two goals in such a sloppy manner was only added to at the break by how impenetrable Ben Foster had been at the other end.
The Hornets goalkeeper got down smartly to his left to keep out a drilled 20-yard shot from Aaron Mooy in the sixth minute that had seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Foster followed that with a stunning finger-tip save to divert Lowe’s powerful effort onto the crossbar.
It was the sixth time Huddersfield had struck the woodwork this season, a tally only champions Manchester City can better.
Any notion, however, that the Terriers are back at the bottom through ill-fortune alone can be dismissed with shambolic defending characterising this seventh defeat of the season.
The Hornets’ third goal was not as spectacular as the first two. But it was just as poor from a defensive perspective.
Etienne Capoue’s chipped pass after a free-kick inexplicably found Kiko Femenia in five yards of space. His first-time volley back across the penalty area then landed at the feet of the equally unmarked Isaac Success. He had no trouble in beating Lossl.
Town appealed, more in desperation than anything, that Adrian Mariappa had been offside in the build-up but the defender was not interfering with play and the goal rightly stood.
Further humiliation was spared thanks to referee Mike Dean, who rashly blew his whistle following a tug by Mooy on the shirt of Will Hughes. Moments later, Dean’s haste was clear as Lowe nudged the ball past his own goalkeeper following a breakdown in communication.
It was scant consolation when the final whistle blew moments later to leave Wagner’s men back at the foot of the table and badly needing an injection of that famed Terrier spirit in what is surely a ‘must-win’ home game against Fulham a week tonight.
“We need more commitment in our game,” added Mounie. “I do not want to see any player give up because this is not finished.
“We are still going and we still have a chance to stay up. We have to fight. For me, I will fight and try to score goals to help the team.”