As for who will be crowned the division’s surprise big winner at the end of the season, Huddersfield took to the box on Monday night.
Both clubs have refreshingly brightened up the second-tier landscape this season, much like Barnsley did in 2020-21.
In the process, they have provided two of the campaign’s Championship stories.
The positive story tonight in particular undoubtedly belonged to Huddersfield, who seized the opportunity to move up to third place against their rivals.
After his dramatic goal intervention in the home game against Cardiff City in February, Jon Russell came up with a sequel, but not too late.
On a night that wasn’t particularly exceptional as a show, the Londoner busy making a name for himself in the north came up with something eye-catching just before the hour mark.
His lob after Luton pulled the plug on Pipa’s throw was perfect.
At the other extreme, a matter of centimeters also made the difference 11 minutes later. In a thin-margin playoff race, it could very well be very important.
It just so happened that Huddersfield fans got a bit of schadenfreude in the process.
Elijah Adebayo, who turned down a move to West Yorkshire in favor of Bedfordshire in the 2021 winter window, had scored 16 goals this season in Luton colours.
There was no 17 with his penalty hitting the outside of the post after Danel Sinani was penalized after James Bree got on the wrong side of him and fell to the ground.
It was the signal for a bit of a ruckus before order was restored. Speaking of 17, this was also Town’s 17th clean sheet in a season that has been reassuringly consistent from a defensive perspective.
The breaks belonged to the Blue and Whites and a late second from substitute Naby Sarr, who headed in unmarked at the far post from a corner from the left by Sorba Thomas, provided goalscoring brilliance from an unlikely source.
After a happy Monday, Town moves on to Good Friday at home to QPR. Another victory and the finish line will begin to close.
With three of their last five league games at home, the Terriers are in a great position to finish the job and prevent their fates from coming until the last moment.
Separated by one point and one table position before kick-off, this always had the makings of a tight fixture and proved so for most of the game before Sarr’s goal sealed the deal.
Town’s patient and inquisitive style contrasted with Luton’s more direct approach. It was a question of who would blink in the second half, or perhaps make a costly mistake.
What came instead was a glorious moment from Russell, while Adebayo provided arguably the most significant moment.
Town, who restored Danny Ward and Jonathan Hogg to the starting lineup alongside Pipa and Sinani, showed the most threatening appearance all night. The validity of his victory should not be doubted.
A towering spell midway through the first half saw Fred Onyedinma’s clear header flying off his own goal, while Hatters goalkeeper James Shea was forced to improvise to block a ferocious shot from Thomas that ricocheted off Sonny Bradley and then Levi Colwill with their feet before gratefully scooping up the loose ball.
Shea was also forced to put in significant work to block Sinani’s shot at his first post, with his Town counterpart Lee Nicholls called into action just once before the break to prevent a low shot from Harry Cornick.
Testimony to Luton’s lack of perceptible impression in the first half was the fact that they didn’t even score a corner. Shortly after the restart, they issued a warning when a jewel from a right cross by Bree evaded Adebayo at the far post.
At the other end, a revealing touch from Kai Naismith got in the way of a rough strike from Sinani that was otherwise destined for the net. Thankfully, Town didn’t have to mourn that moment courtesy of Russell.
Adebayo had his moment to forget before Sarr chose an opportune moment to score his first goal since the opening day of the season. Job done, now for QPR.
Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Turton, Lees, Colwill, Toffolo; Russell, Hogg, O’Brien; Sinani (Holmes 77), Ward (Sarr 85), Thomas (Rhodes 90). Unused substitutes: Blackman, Koroma, Turton, Eiting.
Luton Town: Shea; Bree, Bradley, Naismith; Onyedinma, Mpanzu (Snodgrass 35), Lansbury (Potts 58), Bell; a Campbell; Cornick (Hylton 81), Adebayo. Unused substitutes: Isted, Berry, Kioso, Muskwe.
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).
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This notice was published: 2022-04-11 21:54:16