Good Hogg almighty – aka QPR 0 – 1 Huddersfield Town

Town took a huge stride towards safety by finally winning away from home for the first time since October, with a solid, though not flawless, performance against a QPR side who were uncannily reminiscent of their opponents for much of the proceedings.

With Hogg back in the side protecting the back 3, largely negating the threat of Rangers’ creative midfield and setting the tempo of Town’s game, the Terriers’ chances of victory, or at least the avoidance of defeat, were raised.

Other than one moment in the first half when he was caught too far forward and bypassed, it was a perfect day for the captain whose leadership is always sorely missed.

Following a familiar pattern, Town started brightly and threatened in the early stages. An O’Brien burst ended in a decent effort, though Dieng in the Rangers’ goal made a meal of a straightforward save, and Mbenza shot wide from distance. Naby Sarr could also have done better with an excellent Mbenza cross as the visitors dominated.

The contest evened up after 10 minutes as both sides strived to exert authority with little success. Town had a further opportunity near the half hour when an unmarked Keogh headed just wide from a corner, only for the miss to serve as a prelude for the hosts’ best spell, which should have seen them take the lead.

Seizing control of possession, with Rangers capitalising on an error in midfield by Rowe and opening up Town’s left side, the sporadically dangerous Chair played in Kane for a chance he should have buried. Instead, Schofield was able to make a decent if straightforward save and, crucially, clear the ball with his foot before Kane could atone for his weak effort.

The miss was pivotal. QPR continued to dominate but with muted threat while Town, even during their least comfortable spell, created a decent chance when Keogh, who was excellent throughout, surged from the halfway line to just outside the area and fed Bacuna to his left. The mercurial midfielder didn’t quite control his shot after a good first touch and fired over.

The visitors, however, were the more relieved for the half time whistle.

An entirely deserved victory was secured in a second half which was almost entirely in their control. Despite the hosts having the lion’s share of possession, Town’s defensive discipline, from front to back, rarely wavered, and when they had the ball, their threat was more potent.

The early introduction of Holmes and Duhaney, for Mbenza and Rowe, changed the dynamic and stiffened the team’s defensive resilience and, in the case of Holmes, added a little unpredictability in attack.

Neither were involved in the winning goal, which came shortly after their introduction, however.

The excellent Naby Sarr pushed a lovely pass in to space for O’Brien who drew players towards him before laying the ball out to Pipa, raiding down the left. The Spaniard teased the opponents in front of him before laying a great ball with the outside of his foot in to the path of Bacuna who smashed the ball past a stationary Dieng.

With the lead, Town took control of the game and could have won more comfortably. Ceding possession intelligently, they allowed QPR to paint pretty pictures in the middle third and smothered the rare occasions they threatened to threaten.

Other than a miscalculation by Sarr of a hasty clearance by the hosts as a Town attack broke down – the odious Charlie Austin shanked an attempted cross with the recovering Sarr in pursuit – and a comedy moment when Duhaney managed to concede a corner by firing an attempted clearance on to himself, Town controlled the contest after the goal.

It is worth mentioning that Austin was ineffective throughout, until subbed, but again managed to kick out at a prone Huddersfield Town player (Bacuna), using the cover of the ball being stuck under his body after being fouled. Coward.

Town’s transition play, often involving Holmes, O’Brien and Pipa was as impressive as their defending and they deserved a greater margin of victory.

Shortly after taking the lead, Bacuna fired a free kick just wide, Holmes had a good effort kept out rather awkwardly by Dieng and Pipa curled an effort just over the bar.

Perhaps the best chance fell to substitute Sanogo who threw his body in front of a near post ball from O’Brien, but the ball bumbled wide.

An impressive second half, built on discipline, control and creative offensive play secured a hugely welcome and important 3 points to finally drag the Terriers over the 40 point mark and in sight of safety, which should be quite a few below 50.

A long, tough winter nears it’s end and the possibility of sustained momentum could provide a better than expected finale to the season.

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