IT WAS more steel than samba – but determined Town showed they have what it takes to tough out a three-point haul.
IT WAS more steel than samba – but determined Huddersfield Town showed they have what it takes to tough out a three-point haul.
Lee Clark’s side had a major let-off when John Mousinho fired an 88th-minute penalty over the bar.
But on the balance of play, Town deserved a win sealed by Lee Novak’s ninth goal of the season.
Scott Laird had earlier cancelled out Gary Roberts’ sixth of the campaign, slotted home in the 44th minute of a first half dominated by the home team.
Town had stacks of possession without creating too many clear-cut chances, Stevenage getting in blocks on efforts by Roberts (twice) and the impressive Jack Hunt, who also put a fiercely-struck 33rd-minute shot just inches over Chris Day’s crossbar.
But just when the veteran former Millwall keeper was contemplating a clean sheet to go with his half-time cuppa, Roberts struck.
The goal had its origins in a Stevenage free-kick deep in their own half and punted straight into touch by day.
From Hunt’s throw-in, the ball was worked to Scott Arfield who spilt the visitors defence with a lovely low through ball straight into Roberts’ pass.
In one on one with Day, the winger held his nerve to stroke home a low shot to the keeper’s right and provide an interval scoreline which more reflected the pattern of play.
Having reshuffled towards the end of the first period – the bustling Chris Beardsley replaced Stacy Long after 37 minutes – Stevenage boss Graham Westley made another change at half-time, replacing centre-back Michael Bostwick with John Ashton after Town’s Alan Lee had dominated the aerial exchanges.
Town were still the stronger side in the opening stages of the second half, however, and Arfield’s inviting low cross in the 53rd minute looked odds on to bring a goal, only for the ball to take a deflection and narrowly evade Lee’s boot.
Stevenage’s first real effort came in the 55th minute, and it took a fine clearance from the covering Calum Woods to foil Mousinho as he shot from Craig Reid’s pass from the left
Laird shot over in the 57th minute, but kept the ball low in the 67th, latching onto Mousinho’s nicely-weighted pass and beating Ian Bennett with drive which went in off the Town man’s left-hand post.
The drummer among the 243-strong travelling support (there were Town fans had the other section of the Pink Link Stand) went into overdrive, but was silenced in the 76th minute.
Anton Robinson, off the bench in place of the industrious Arfield, worked his way in from the byline and drilled in a low left-foot shot.
The ball rebounded back of the right-hand post, and top scorer Novak, making his 100th Town appearance since arriving from Gateshead in 2009, was the quickest to react.
His goal, slotted home from six yards out, meant Town were back in the driving seat, and Danny Ward, on for Roberts, almost created a two-goal cushion in the 83rd minute, coming in from the left beating Phil Edwards before rasping in a shot with his ‘alternative’ right foot which went narrowly wide.
It looked like Town would rue the miss when Antony Kay was ruled to have fouled Stevenage substitute Byron Harrison as he prodded in a shot which was comfortably saved by Bennett.
But Mousinho was well off target from 12 yards and Town held firm through six minutes of stoppage time to make it 37 league games unbeaten, two league wins on the trot and four victories in five home league matches.
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