Jordan Rhodes back among goals as Huddersfield Town beat Derby County to leave Terriers fans dreaming of a Premier League return

For 75 minutes it did not feel like it was heading that way, but it turned out to be a very good night for Huddersfield Town.

Danny Ward congratulates Jordon Rhodes scoring Town's second goal. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Danny Ward congratulates Jordon Rhodes scoring Town's second goal. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Not only did they secure the 2-0 win over Derby County which put them fifth in the Championship, Jordan Rhodes scored his first Terriers goal for 3,448 days.

Just like “Jordan Rhodes, he scores goals,” the home fans could sing “Town are going up” with some vindication. They are grinding in the right direction.

For most of the game, the home players tested the patience of those on the terraces.

Huddersfield Town's Danny Ward has his effort blocked by Derby's Lee Buchanan. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

It took just three minutes for the game to be shaped in a way that made victory an expectation.

Derby goalkeeper Ryan Allsop played a pass that put Liam Thompson in trouble. Lewis O’Brien was on his back and won the ball. In his first game since he was wearing blue-and-white stripes, Richard Stearman came flying in on the midfielder with a tackle deserving of the red card it got.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby, though, are nothing if not fighters and they frustrated the hell out of Huddersfield and their fans until a stroke of good fortune in the 75th minute when Krystian Bielik got right in front of Duane Holmes’s shot from the centre of the pitch and it looped over the stranded Allsop.

Five minutes later, Danny Ward ran onto a smart Danel Sinani through-ball and when Allsop saved low down, Rhodes showed the instincts so familiar to Town fans when he left in 2012 to settle the nerves.

Huddersfield Town's Duane Holmes celebrates scoring the first goal. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Stearman’s red card forced the dangerous Festy Ebosele to drop into left-back – and an understandably conservative one at that – and Derby to drop into full damage-limitation mode. For half-an-hour, Huddersfield knocked the ball around nicely, often working it wide to Harry Toffolo high on the left, sometimes to Thomas playing wide right in a 4-4-2, but they failed to find the finish to make the most of 72 per cent possession in the opening 45 minutes.

A stretching Ward hit a ball from wide of the left-hand post to wide of the right and seemed unsure whether to control or shoot Toffolo’s cross and ended up doing neither. He stooped to head a wonderful Thomas ball wide.

When he laid the ball back to Holmes, the former Derby player shot over, Curtis Davies blocked his shot after a lovely O’Brien pass, and he was off balance trying to put a Thomas pass in.

Louise Sibley dragged a rare shot at the other end wide after half an hour. With Hogg dropping deeper than he needed to and Ollie Turton not a natural to bomb on from right-back, the Terriers did not have the handbrake on, but neither were they in top gear.

Ward missed another good chance before half-time after Sinani’s lovely ball to Toffolo, whose cross came loose to the striker.

The second half was more of a slog, barely a shot on goal for too much of it.

Derby were fortunate not to be reduced to nine men when Ebosele cynically swept O’Brien’s legs from under him five minutes after being booked for booting the ball away into the stands but there was nothing lucky about how they kept the hosts at bay.

Carlos Corberan had little choice but to make attacking substitutions, dropping Hogg into the back four at half-time so Carel Eiting could make a second debut, bringing Pipa on for Turton and finally Rhodes for Hogg.

Holmes’s goal was fortunate, Rhodes’s deserved. The latter could have a wider significance because until now, Corberan has not had a genuine alternative to Ward with a goal this season.

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton (Pipa 56), Pearson (Eiting 46), Lees, Toffolo; Thomas, Hogg (Rhodes 73), O’Brien, Holmes; Sinani, Ward. Unused substitutes: Koroma, High, Sarr.

Derby County: Allsop; Byrne, Stearman, Davies), Buchanan; Knight, Sibley (Cashin 61), Thompson (Stretton 79); Ebosele, Plange (Bielik 46), Lawrence. Unused substitutes: Forsyth, Roos, Bardell, Ebiowei.

Referee: M Donohue (Greater Manchester).