NOBODY expected last night’s Yorkshire derby to match last December’s 4-4 thriller between the teams but in its own way it was just as extraordinary.
The first half brought three goals and the sendings-off of Huddersfield defender Joel Lynch for a bad tackle and Owls full back Joe Mattock for two bookings; the second half produced a killer goal for Town via a terribly harsh penalty decision.
Wednesday fought back after going two down inside 19 minutes and Reda Johnson pulled them back to 2-1 but despite having the better of the chances they could not avoid a third successive defeat as the Terriers avenged their 2-0 beating at the Galpharm Stadium in last season’s promotion run-in.
Dave Jones responded to the defeats at Palace and Brighton by making three changes.
Reda Johnson returned at left back after recovering from his ankle injury. Mark Beevers switched to his normal position, left-side centre back, and that meant Miguel Llera being left out.
Ross Barkley made his full and home debut in midfield, as expected, with Jones resting Rhys McCabe.
Gary Madine took over from Rodri up front. There was also a change of captain, with Martin Taylor taking over from Jose Semedo on the defender’s home debut.
Beevers was denied a fourth-minute goal from a right-side Barkley corner when his near-post header at the Leppings Lane end forced a reaction save from Alex Smithies.
As at Brighton last Friday there was nothing in the game before a goal against the Owls inside 15 minutes.
They escaped when a fine strike by striker James Vaughan came back off the woodwork but seconds later Jermaine Johnson carelessly brought down right back James Hunt in the box.
The penalty by Oliver Norwood was stopped by Chris Kirkland but Norwood reacted quickest to knock home the rebound.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 because of familiar defensive frailty.
Lee Novak dived in front of Reda Johnson from a long, left-side cross and guided a free header into the corner.
Reda nearly made amends when he went close with a headed chance from five yards from another Barkley corner.
In a four-minute spell after that Smithies kept out a terrific strike by Michail Antonio following a knockdown from Jay Bothroyd, who then had a shot blocked in the goalmouth, and Wednesday pulled it back to 2-1 when Antonio crossed from the left and Reda Johnson stretched to head home at the far post.
But Huddersfield were down to 10 men in the 38th minute, a minute later. Antonio was in full flight as he knocked the ball past Lynch on the right touchline and was chopped down high and late; the result a correct straight red card.
Then came a flurry of bookings, for defender Anthony Gerrard for coming on as a sub prematurely immediately after the sending-off; for Bothroyd and centre back Peter Clarke for fouls, and when Joe Mattock picked up two yellows in the space of a few minutes he had to go, in the sixth minute of stoppage time after the ref had signalled five extra.
At half time Jermaine Johnson was switched to right back and Nejc Pecnik went on to the left side of midfield.
Gary Madine was sacrificed, and Bothroyd was left on his own up front.
Reda Johnson went close again with a header across goal from a cross by Bothroyd.
Pecnik went even closer, side-footing wide after taking a Bothroyd pass and checking inside from the left.
Wednesday sought to inject extra creativity by bringing on McCabe, with Semedo taken off.
McCabe was victim of poor work from officialdom as an unjust penalty put the Owls further behind.
A cross hit the midfield accidentally on the hand. Referee Graham Salisbury seemed to see the incident clearly and gave nothing but linesman Barry Gordon flagged insistently: Salisury consulted him and gave the foul, much to the Owls anger.
Adam Clayton sent Kirkland the wrong way with a kick to the keeper’s right.
Wednesday never gave up, however, Reda Johnson missed a simple late chance from an Antonio cross. But still the flow of goals against them has not stopped.
There was a minute’s silence before the game in memory of the Hillsborough Disaster and two soldiers of the Yorkshire Regiment who have been killed in Afghanistan, one of whom was a Huddersfield fan.
OWLS: Kirkland 7, Mattock 6, Taylor 7, Beevers 7, R Johnson 6, Antonio 8, Semedo 6 (McCabe 64), Barkley 7, Madine 6 (Pecnik 7 ht), Bothroyd 7 (O’Grady 78). Subs: Bywater, Rodri, Jones, Llera.
TERRIERS: Smithies 7, Hunt 7, Clarke 8, Lynch 6, Dixon 6, Novak 6 (Gerrard 38, 7), Norwood 7 (Woods 83), Clayton 7, Southern 7, Ward 7 (Lee 90+1), Vaughan 7. Subs: Bennett, Scannell, Arfield, Spencer.
Bookings: Gerrard, Bothroyd, Clarke, R Johnson, Ward, Barkley, Pecnik.
Sendings-off: Lynch (38min), Mattock (45+6)