Ward strikes twice as Huddersfield win at Watford

24 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Andre Breitenreiter got off to a winning start as Huddersfield boss thanks to Danny Ward’s brace from the bench, which gave the visitors a 2-1 victory after Emmanuel Dennis had opened the scoring for Watford.

The German head coach started work with the Terriers on Tuesday after being unveiled as Darren Moore’s permanent replacement the previous week, and had acknowledged at his first press conference that the relegation-threatened club were in a “dangerous” position.

Valerien Ismael’s Watford were meanwhile without a Championship win in six at Vicarage Road and desperate to generate some momentum for the final stretch of the season to prevent their faint play-off hopes from ebbing away altogether.

Danny Ward of Huddersfield Town

Image: Danny Ward of Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield had the better of the early going, with Delano Burgzorg and Josh Koroma both unleashing goalward efforts that needed deflecting wide – and only very narrowly, in Burgzorg’s case.

Ismael evidently shared the fans’ extremely vocal frustration at his side’s inability to get out of their own half in the face of a tenacious high press, and made his first pair of substitutions as early as the 27th minute with Edo Kayembe and Ismael Kone hauled off for Giorgi Chakvetadze and former Huddersfield man Tom Ince.

That produced the desired improvement in his side’s play, and they mustered their first shot on goal just after the half-hour as Mattie Pollock headed wide from a Ken Sema corner.

Yaser Asprilla’s fabulous through ball later gave Ince the most clear-cut chance of the first half, but Lee Nicholls was equal to his first-time strike on goal.

The goalkeeper had no chance the next time Watford threatened up the right, however, with Asprilla getting the better of Brodie Spencer to get into the box before squaring for Dennis to fire Watford ahead – virtually his last action of the game as he went off injured moments later.

Watford should have put the game to bed twice within a few minutes of that opener, but neither Mileta Rajovic nor Ince capitalised on very presentable openings produced from left-wing crosses.

Huddersfield punished that by showing them how it was done in the 71st minute, with centre-back Yuta Nakayama getting forward to cross for substitute Ward to head past former team-mate Ben Hamer, despite the goalkeeper getting a touch.

Both sides wasted chances to go ahead with the score at 1-1, with Burgzorg failing to find an unmarked Ben Wiles at the end of a Huddersfield counter-attack and Ince again shooting off-target for Watford from Sema’s cross.

But Ward showed great instincts once again to finally decide the game seven minutes from time, reacting fastest to get to Tom Edwards’ low cross and flick into the far bottom corner.

The managers

Watford’s Valerien Ismael:

“After 20 minutes the feeling was we had to do something to have an impact. I picked two players but I could have changed all 11 players. It was still 0-0 but a bad performance, and we spoke clearly to the players at half-time.

“From 21 points at home now we’ve taken only two points. It’s a difficult situation to understand why it’s like that.

“The performance was not there and that’s what we have to analyse and especially the players, because as a manager I’m responsible for the result, but the players are all responsible for their own performance.

“They need to look inside themselves and give an answer to themselves about why they’re not performing as a team.

“I am still comfortable where I am. I enjoy my work every day with the staff and I think the most important thing is we give everything. That’s what I do from early in the morning to late in the evening. I would have been frustrated myself as a fan.”

Huddersfield’s Andre Breitenreiter:

“On the pitch and outside it, after Danny Ward scored [his first] we had the belief that we could win this game. This is what I want to see and what I like to see.

“We played further to attack and to press high, and had the conviction to score again. The players, the team, they deserved to win this game, absolutely.

“Celebrating the win after the game with the fans…they gave us a lot of good support and we have to really say thank you to them. It was absolutely fantastic watching smiling faces, from the supporters and from the players. I’m very happy.

“I’ve collected so many impressions this week. Some things are different from Germany or Switzerland, but I like it because the mentality is very high. This is a really traditional stadium, and it was special – and it’s really good for me to start with a win.”

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