An agonizingly late double from Josh Koroma and Jon Russell completed a remarkable comeback for Huddersfield Town to beat Cardiff City 2-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Tommy Doyle’s beautifully-taken second-half goal looked to have been enough for the Bluebirds to take all three points, thanks to a fantastic defensive effort.
But with just minutes left to play, substitute Koroma banged home from close range to hand the hosts hope. With nine minutes of stoppage time, Cardiff were just clinging on, but Russell struck the killer blow, poking home in the 96th minute to ensure the Bluebirds left west Yorkshire with nothing.
Steve Morison stuck with his guns when it came to team selection, opting for the same starting lineup which earned a draw against Blackpool at the weekend.
The one notable change on the bench, though, was Joe Ralls coming back on the bench.
The wind howled in west Yorkshire and the night turned miserable just before kick-off, but it didn’t spoil any of the action.
Huddersfield saw heaps of possession, as was perhaps expected, but it was Cardiff who enjoyed the best chances, the first of which fell to Mark McGuinness.
Just 10 minutes in, Tommy Doyle whipped in an inviting cross and the center back steered a solid effort on goal, however it was a nice height for Lee Nicholls, who palmed it away.
The Terriers controlled possession for the most part, but had very few opportunities to show for it. The only real opening early on came for former Bluebird Danny Ward, who snatched at an instinctive chance following a ricochet, only to send his half-volley over the bar from close range.
Cardiff did well to soak up a lot of the pressure and began to look genuinely dangerous on the break when they turned over possession.
On one such occasion, just past the half-hour mark, Perry Ng stepped out of defense to win the ball before playing in Jordan Hugill, who in turn released Isaak Davies in the box. The young Welshman just lost his footing at a crucial moment, though, and scuffed his effort into a sprawling Terriers defender.
Cody Drameh then emulated Ng, but went one better as he kept hold of the ball and drove into the box before releasing a shot of his own, which was blocked. The rebound fell into Doyle’s path, but his poked effort was saved smartly by the Terriers’ keeper.
The half finished with a flurry of chances for striker Jordan Hugill. Doyle continued to pull the strings and his clipped cross was once again inch-perfect for Hugill, who powered a header to sting Nicholls’ palms once again.
And on the stroke of half-time, Hugill nicked the ball off Wales international Sorba Thomas deep in Huddersfield’s half, but he just ran out of steam and was forced to shoot from 25 yards out, hardly troubling Nicholls in the Huddersfield net.
At the break, the stats would tell you that Cardiff had only 30 percent of the ball, but, crucially, had fired off a healthy nine shots on goal, showing everyone there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Huddersfield once again turned up the heat at the start of the second half, but, this time with the wind behind them, they still could not fashion any gilt-edged chances to trouble Alex Smithies and the Bluebirds looked comfortable enough.
And that’s when City struck, with an incredibly pleasing goal on the eye.
Ryan Wintle picked the ball up and fizzed it into Hugill, who took all the sting out of it as he turned it around the corner for Doyle. The midfielder took it in his stride and entered the box before coolly lifting it over the onrushing Nicholls to hand the visitors the lead.
Cardiff’s traveling fans, of which there were more than 1,000 on this wet Wednesday night, were sent into raptures and got their just reward for their superb support.
It was a bit of a backs-to-the-wall job thereafter, it must be said, as the Terriers looked for an equaliser.
Things got heated on the touch line, too, when one of the Huddersfield assistant coaches tried to get Hugill sent off for an aerial challenge in which he led with his arm on Tom Lees. But the stoppage gave Cardiff time to reset.
City also had fresh legs on the pitch, too. As the game ticked towards its dying minutes, Mark Harris looked like he had a golden chance to bury the tie when Ryan Wintle sent him clean through.
Harris was clear and only had the keeper to beat, but he miscontrolled the ball and allowed the defense to get back and stymie the attack.
And, of course, Cardiff were made to pay. The Terriers went straight up the other end and a cross was lofted to Jordan Rhodes at the back post, who cushioned his header for Koroma and the forward buried his chance at the first time of asking.
For all of Cardiff’s good work, it had been coming.
Then came the cruel blow, though. A floated ball into the box was controlled brilliantly by Russell, who kept the ball out of Aden Flint and Perry Ng’s feet before poking into the corner of the goal to seal the win.
That will definitely sting.
Huddersfield Town XI: Nicholls; Turton, Pearson, Lees, Ruffels (Koroma 64); Sinani (Eiting 57), Russell, O’Brien; Thomas, Ward, Holmes (Rhodes 71).
subs: Blackman, Colwill, Toffolo, Hogg.
Cardiff City XI: smithies; Ng, Flint, McGuinness; Drameh, Vaulks, Doyle (Ralls 77), Wintle, Bagan; Hugill (Ikpeazu 82), Davies (Harris 64).
subs: Phillips, Denham, Doughty, King.