The Terriers changed formation to a 4-4-2 and even chief executive with Dean Hoyle, who presided over perhaps the club’s best days since Herbert Chapman, taking over as interim following Mark Devlin’s departure. Pipa played first-team football for the first time this season, a second-half substitute, but the most discombobulating change of all was they won.
Never before under Carlos Corberan have they won back-to-back away games and you could hardly say they were the better team in a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground.
But three wins in a row are three wins in a row. End of. They could get used to this.,
For all their play-off rivals threw the kitchen sink at them – having 23 shots but only six on target, not to mention all the moves that broke down for the want of a decent final pass – for all that the Terriers spent the entire second half desperately trying to run down the clock, they actually missed a few good chances themselves.
It was a strange game on a strange day but an enjoyable one for the 1,193 away fans. Those in the rest of the ground were utterly frustrated by their team’s wastefulness in front of goal.
“We had to suffer a lot to get the three points and as a coach I appreciate the effort a lot,” said Corberan.
Some of the defending was heroic, one unpunished blip apart, Lee Nicholls was his usual excellent self in goal.
“They had more chances than we should have conceded,” acknowledged the coach. “There were situations we could have controlled better but the team adapted well to a 4-4-2.
“You don’t win these games if you don’t have personality. It was a challenge to our personality because we had to continue trying to attack. We couldn’t have got the three points if we had defended for 45 minutes (in the second half).
“I saw signs in this game that we can continue our progress and better it.”
Even above the noise of a 27,159 crowd, the ball thudded around, smashed in meaty challenges, belted at goal or fizzed around in passes. At times it felt like 22 men taking out a huge amount of frustration on a poor orb of leather – or if not the ball, each other.
It looked like Sorba Thomas was going to enjoy the freedom of playing on the right of midfield when he wellied against the crossbar inside the first minute, although in all honesty, that was where his night peaked, substituted with a quarter of the game to go and a need for another pair of fresh legs.
Lewis Grabban, who earlier hit consecutive shots against defenders, ought to have equalised in the 21st minute, heading wide when Xande Silva did well to get to the byline and cross.
By that stage Jordan Rhodes had come off the bench, a 15th-minute substitute for Danny Ward who came off with breathing problems. The striker, who scored a Sheffield Wednesday hat-trick on his previous City Ground start, was welcomed to the game by Joe Worrall going right through the back of him near the halfway line.
With the pressure mounting at Huddersfield’s end, a goal unexpectedly appeared at the other.
Duane Holmes hit a pass hard at Toffolo who returned it brilliantly for the former Derby County midfielder to put inside the near post on the half hour. It was Toffolo’s fourth assist in as many games.
Danel Sinani, playing off the front, hit a wonderful volley from outside the area which just dipped over but it was rare to be facing that way as a spectator.
Philip Zinckernagel hit a shot – a violent one, obviously – which smashed the underside of the bar and bounced in front of the line.
Nicholls finished the half with a brilliant reaction save from Silva. It hardly needs saying the shot came at him like a bullet after Zinckernagel was granted far too much space on the right to load it.
Nicholls saved well enough from Zinckernagel and Grabban to forgive the slip which had him chasing the bobbling ball back to his own line.
Forest fans were on their feet celebrating the equaliser when another low Nicholls save teed the ball up for Brennan Johnson, so electric in the reverse fixture. The only problem was, he shot wide. He also volleyed against the excellent Levi Colwill.
Sinani, though, conspired to spoon a great chance over when Rhodes teed him up early in the second half, then took too long after being picked out by Toffolo.
O’Brien, largely disappointed – another change from the norm – went on a terrific 55th-minute run which forced a brilliant Brice Samba tip-over.
“Sometimes it’s better to continue growing with the three points than without,” said Corberan. “I am not fully satisfied but I know how difficult it is to win games in a row especially when there are not many days between them. I feel very proud of this team.”
He was quite right to be.
Nottingham Forest: Samba; Spence, Worrall, McKenna, Colback; Ojeda (Cafu 66), Garner; Johnson, Zinckernagel (Carvalho 80), Silva (Taylor 71); Grabban. Unused substitutes: Horvath, Bong, Fornah, Back.
Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton, Pearson, Colwill; Thomas (Koroma 68), High, O’Brien, Toffolo; Sinani, Holmes; Ward (Rhodes 15). Unused substitutes: Pipa, Ruffels, Rowe, Schofield, Russell.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).