DEPLETED Huddersfield Town endured Teesside torment at the hands of former loan players Scott McDonald and Lukas Jutkiewicz.
The Boro strikers spelled danger for Town boss Simon Grayson’s side all through the match.
McDonald laid the platform for the home victory with an opening goal midway through the first half and, after Emmanuel Ledesma struck halfway thorough the second period, the Australian completed a comprehensive home win four minutes from time.
Only a fine save by Alex Smithies prevented Jutkiewicz heading his way on to the scoresheet and now Town must lift themselves for Saturday’s big home showdown against Leeds.
With Town failing in their appeal against Keith Southern’s red card for his sending off at Charlton Athletic and fellow midfielder Adam Clayton suspended, manager Simon Grayson ushered in Scott Arfield and Anton Robinson for rare outings.
It was Arfield’s first start since the opening game at Cardiff City, while Robinson‘s sole outing this season was as a substitute.
Neither Jermaine Beckford or Sean Scannell made the Town teamsheet, but it included Chris Atkinson back from his loan at League II Chesterfield on the bench.
The opening sages were tight with Town skipper Peter Clarke imposing himself on proceedings with a couple of strong challenges.
Going forward Town’s Danny Ward shot wide from game’s first real chance on four minutes.
However, Boro were passing the ball neatly through midfield, but their early attacks tended to fizzle out in the final third of then pitch.
But they then won a free kick for Clarke’s foul on Josh McEachran, and Emmanuel Ledesma curled his set-piece effort over the bar.
Ledesma’s 14th minute corner looked a threat but was comfortably cleared, and then the Argentine winger’s mazy run into the Town area was halted by good work from Jack Hunt.
Town had a let off on the 20th minute when Joel Lynch’s slip let in Jutkiewicz, who flashed a shot across the face of goal and wide.
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But Grayson’s side were giving as good a they got and Hunt ended a surging run up field with a shot which flew just too high.
Boro fans were on their feet in the 25th minutes when Scott McDonald over hit his cross which intended for Jutkiewicz but the ball ran into touch on the opposite side of the field.
However, three minutes later McDonald was celebrating after scoring his sixth goal of the season when Justin Hoyte’s run down the right ended with the ball breaking for Jutkiewicz whose cross was turned in by the Australian despite Alex Smithies desperate dive.
On 32 minutes it was McDonald who supplied the cross to set up Jutkiewicz, but Clarke made a timely tackle to halt the immediate danger.
But on the 42 minutes Clarke came close to putting through his own goal when his attempted clearance from a Jutkiewicz cross swerved towards his own goal causing Smithies to scramble back and push the ball against his own bar.
Town ended the first half more brightly with Arfield twice flashing in decent shots on the home goal.
Boro were back on the attack early in the second half when Smithies got down well to block Jutkiewicz’s close range shot.
Town boss Grayson made a double change on 54 minutes when Robinson and Oliver Norwood were replaced by ex-Boro loan player Adam Hammill and Chris Atkinson.
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It was Boro who were doing the bulk of the attacking with McDonald sending a shot narrowly wide after again after linking up neatly with Jutkiewicz.
The second goal finally arrived in the 66th minute after Dixon’s foul on Ledesma, who dusted himself down and fired home the free kick, from 25 yards out – Smithies got a hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out.
The Town keeper made a fine save from Jutkiewicz’s 77th minute header, but couldn’t prevent McDonald reaching his partner’s nod down to score from Richard Smallwood’s cross.