STEVE MOUNIE has got wearily used to things not going his way this season.
He is yet to find the net in Huddersfield Town colours with only four other players in the Premier League having struck the woodwork more times than the Benin striker.
The most recent of those came a fortnight ago when Lukasz Fabianski’s stunning finger-tip save on to the crossbar denied Mounie what had seemed to be a certain goal from the moment the ball left his head at pace.
It was the fourth time he had seen a goalbound effort kept out by an opposition goalkeeper, much to the frustration of last season’s top scorer at the John Smith’s Stadium.
So, when the 24-year-old finally broke his barren run in front of goal last weekend to put Benin ahead in an Africa Cup of Nations group game that, if won, would have guaranteed qualification, Mounie’s luck finally seemed to have changed.
Unfortunately for Benin and their star striker those dreams of sealing a place at the finals for the first time since 2010 remain on hold after hosts Gambia netted three times in the final 20 minutes. Seven days on and Mounie still cannot quite believe how things went awry.
“I don’t know if you have seen their goals they scored, but they were unbelievable,” he says when asked by The Yorkshire Post about a defeat that leaves Benin needing a win from the final group game against Togo to qualify.
“The first one, the guy took the ball from the middle and shot with the top of his foot. The ball was going out for a throw-in – I am not joking – but someone deflected it and the ball went inside the goal. After that they got confidence. Without that goal they would have not scored another. It was total luck.
“The second was a shot from the angle of the box towards the far post. It was on the floor and I do not know how this goal went in.
“Please, when you go back home, get on YouTube and you will see. A four-minute video and then you can tell me next time what you think.”
Gambia’s equaliser was, as Mounie suggests, an outrageous slice of good fortune. Lamin Jallow’s miscued shot from the edge of the area was heading nowhere near the goal until it struck a Benin boot and looped over helpless goalkeeper Fabien Farnolle and into the net.
It was the sort of misfortune Town have bemoaned plenty of times this season, most notably when striking the woodwork nine times. Only champions Manchester City can match that tally, but there is a feeling among the Huddersfield squad that their season is starting to turn around.
Taking four points off Fulham and West Ham United in their last two outings certainly represents a step in the right direction for a side who sit second-bottom of the table.
Tomorrow’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers will be tough, but December will bring home games with Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton and Newcastle United before the new year begins with Burnley heading to the John Smith’s Stadium.
With such a run of eminently winnable fixtures in store, a return to goalscoring form for Mounie – yet to finish on the losing side for Huddersfield when finding the net – would be timely.
“As a striker sometimes there are times when you don’t score,” he said.
“I do think about it. I am not complaining because, as a striker, we know we will be criticised if we don’t score goals. I really don’t mind.
“I know what I am capable of and I will score goals no matter what, and I got a goal for the international team.
“The feeling when the ball went in the net was good, very good. Obviously, when it is a long time when you do not score – since August in the friendly games – then it made me very happy to open my account with the national team.
“It reminded me of a goal for Nimes, very similar. Jump on the guy and get above him. A nice goal.
“My job is to score goals. So, of course, I was happy to finally score. But I know I need to open it for Town. I am a little bit more confident because of the goal.”
In an interview with this newspaper last March, Mounie revealed how a daily bowl of porridge was fuelling his first season in England.
The fact his nine goals came in seven games that yielded five wins and two draws suggests that new breakfast favourite played its part in Town staying up. So, The Yorkshire Post asked if he is still tucking into the oats in a morning.
“That is maybe why (I don’t score),” laughed Mounie, “because I take eggs now. Good advice. I will start with the porridge tomorrow.”
Mounie, after another lively display against West Ham, will retain his place at Molineux tomorrow. He is desperate to break that scoring duck for the Terriers.
“Every goal I scored last season was important for us,” he added. “I know that. They earned us points. I feel like this season can be the same again.
“‘Lolo’ (Laurent Depoitre) and me will start to score. That will mean Huddersfield get points. We help each all the time. We are good friends.
“We speak a lot about football all the time even though we are in competition. I try to help him and he helps me. When we miss a chance we try to figure out why we missed that chance because we want to get better and to help the team. This is team-work.
“Lolo and me are part of one team. Not against each other.”