TERRIFIC Huddersfield Town powered into the Championship automatic promotion places for the first time since Steve Bruce was manager with a scintillating performance at Blackpool last night.
Goals from Lee Novak, James Vaughan and the inspirational Oliver Norwood delighted superb travelling support and enabled Simon Grayson’s side to upset the seaside promotion favourites.
It was a performance packed full of passion, skill and belief and sent a message to the rest of the division that Town are serious contenders.
Town, knowing they would go second with a win, had only one change in the starting line-up, with the excellent Anthony Gerrard making his first league start for Joel Lynch, who started a three-mach ban.
It meant Keith Southern and Peter Clarke started against their former club, while ex-Town favourite Gary Taylor-Fletcher lined up against his old mates.
Murray Wallace was drafted onto the bench by Town boss Simon Grayson as defensive cover, with midfielder Anton Robinson also getting a call, while Jack Hunt made his 100th professional start and Oliver Norwood his 50th at club level.
The pitch was in slick but remarkably good condition following heavy rain – the super-sopper which used to be owned by Lancashire County Cricket Club doing excellent service in the hours before kick-off.
Former Town striker Jordan Rhodes was in the Sky TV studio to watch his former colleagues try to stop a Blackpool unbeaten home run stretching back to March and 100% from the start of this season.
Town started very brightly, passing the ball well on a narrow playing surface, and Adam Clayton showed their intent with a skidding shot just wide on four minutes.
Click on the link below to open up an image gallery of last night's game featuring goals, rain and celebrations!
A long ball from Hunt then caused problems for the home back line, Alex Baptiste messing up a back pass and keeper Matt Gilks almost presenting a chance to Lee Novak.
Blackpool were kept on the back foot thanks to a thunderous 20-yard shot from Danny Ward which was beaten out by Gilks, but Town’s deserved breakthrough came in the 13th minute.
Ian Holloway’s men were caught flat-footed as James Vaughan rose to head on a Clarke clearance and Novak was left clean through, finishing with a neat low left-foot shot for his second goal in successive matches.
Thomas Ince forced a free-kick well over the top as Blackpool tried to respond, while at the other end Norwood saw a fierce deflected free-kick easily held by Gilks.