BATTLING Huddersfield Town salvaged a point with only seconds left as Lee Novak pounced for his second goal of the night.
It looked like a shocking penalty award by Wiltshire referee Roger East would condemn Town to a third home defeat, but then Novak managed to bundle home Adam Clayton speculative punt into the box.
It wiped out Danny Murphy’s second half penalty and Jordan Rhodes’ 43 minute strike after Novak had given Town the lead on 15 minutes.
Scouts from eight Premier League clubs – Everton, Southampton, Swansea, Stoke, West Brom, Sunderland, Norwich and Wigan – were in the stands as Town went with an unchanged team against a Blackburn line-up showing two changes in Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina who were drafted in to play alongside Rhodes.
The man who scored 87 goals in 148 appearances for Town got a wonderful welcome back from the home fans, who were keen to see their side notch the win which would take them back above Rovers and into the play-off positions.
Town – seeking only a second win against Rovers in 10 attempts in Huddersfield dating back almost 39 years – were warned of Rovers threat after just 19 seconds as Rochina drilled in a long-range volley which Alex Smithies did well to tip over the top.
Rovers then forced a series of corners as Town struggled to get possession, but it all changed for the better on 15 minutes.
Sean Scannell showed his extreme pace when chasing a hook over the top and Scott Dann was forced to haul him down.
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From the free-kick by Oliver Norwood, Rovers’ defence were at sixes and sevens, failing to clear as Novak stabbed home his third goal of the season.
It was just what Town needed as they were without injured strike duo James Vaughan and Jermaine Beckford, and the midfield got to grips more after that, although Rochina was causing problems playing in the ‘hole’.
Smithies, in fact, had to produce a smart save to deny the Spanish star from Barcelona B in Rovers next meaningful attack.
The match was evenly matched after that and Rhodes was hardly in the game, until two minutes before the break.
With some shouts for offside, Rhodes found space in the right hand side of the box as Rochina played the ball over the top and, with Smithies trying to cover the angle, Rhodes lashed in a fierce right-foot half volley.
He didn’t celebrate against his former club although it was the type of quality finish that the John Smith’s Stadium has seen many times before.
Town started the second half brightly and created an excellent opening on 48 minutes when Scannell’s back-heel released Dixon on the left but his driven cross eluded everyone in the six yard box.
Rovers responded with Rochina and Markus Olsson showing glimpses of danger and Blackburn went ahead after 55 minutes with a highly controversial penalty.
Markus Olsson showed his pace to angle across the penalty area and the covering Joel Lunch clearly got his foot to the ball to put it out of play, but as the Rovers player went sprawling referee Roger East pointed to the spot.
Danny Murphy made no mistake from 12 yards sending Smithies the wrong way after Lynch had been booked for the challenge and there was a simmering mood of discontent among the Town fans from that point on.
Grayson made a double substitution on 59 minutes sending on Alan Lee and Danny Ward and both added some spice to Town’s attack.
Ward went close on a surging run into the box, while the impressive Clayton saw a 67th minute drive deflected over the top by defender Grant Hanley.
Clayton was cautioned for a foul on Rochina as Town continued to press without much luck around the box.
The Town fans in a crowd of 14,597 went berserk as Novak scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time.