Wagner needed a 12th player in the fans but was left with 10-man Huddersfield slipping further into danger


Wagner needed a 12th player in the fans but was left with 10-man Huddersfield slipping further into danger

David Wagner wrote in his programme notes ahead of the game that the team needed it’s supporters more now than ever. A club that has rode a wave of togetherness to unlikely playoff success in the Championship then even more unlikely survival in their maiden season in the Premier League.

Now, they were in need of more inspiration from the stands as they sit rock bottom of the Premier League and fighting for another improbable survival story.

In the numbers game Wagner was asking for a 12th player – such is the cliché nowadays of a hostile home crowd intimidating the visitors.

The supporters have answered the call time and again for Wagner’s men. A fact he highlighted in his pre-game column.

“When you are in the ground, away or especially at home, please give the players your full support. You’ve done this so far this season in incredible fashion when results have not gone as we wanted, and we’ll need it again now, more than ever. It is not easy to be supportive when your team is not winning, but you are not ordinary fans; you are extraordinary.”

Their opponents were equally as desperate for points as Burnley travelled to the John Smith’s Stadium in a War of the Roses clash with the added spice of a critical ‘six pointer’ at the basement of the table.

Huddersfield’s fight was made harder when, after taking the lead from a brilliant Steve Mounie header, Huddersfield endured a meltdown minutes before the half time break.

The opening goal caused chaos in the stands as Mounie rose highest to meet a delicious Isaac Mbenza cross and nod the ball into the ground where it bounced up and beat Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal.

Mounie gave the hosts the lead but it would not be enough for the Terriers to claim even a point (photo credit: Premier League).













First Chris Wood levelled after Dwight McNeil capitalised on some hesitant Huddersfield defending to square the ball to the Burnley striker to tap the ball in. Two minutes later the hosts saw themselves a man down when Mike Dean dismissed Christopher Schindler for a second yellow card. The German looked perplexed, clearly under the impression that he had not been booked previously – Mike Dean begged to differ and alas the cacophony of noise the home fans created after going 1-0 up faded away.

They did put up an act of defiance, though, as they booed Mike Dean off the pitch at half-time.

Both the home fans and the home team needed to bounce back in the second half with Wagner perhaps facing his most difficult team talk of his three years in charge of the West Yorkshire side.

An air of frustration and inevitability set into the home supporters. They have walked this road plenty of times before; encouraging performances but deflating results leading to a collective of puffing out of cheeks. Still they persisted in the second half with the big bass drum being bashed in rhythm to small pockets of chants breaking out. Yet the noise was at its loudest when appealing to referee Mike Dean for decisions in the Terriers’ favour.

Still, the ten players out on the pitch kept giving those in the stands reason to cheer. Mounie was often the architect of anything positive as he linked well with Alex Pritchard, before he was substituted before half time due to the Schindler red card, and later with Elias Kachunga.

Smatterings of applause followed with every tackle won and sprint forward into the Burnley final third. There would be equal encouragement for every clearance and Lossl save.

Burnley continued to see large spells of possession and make use of their man advantage, installing anxiety into the stands the home fans occupied. Johann Gudmundsson, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood all tested Lossl but the Danish shot stopper stood tall, keeping the hosts in the game.

The hosts continued to feel hard done by Mike Dean, each emphatic wave of his arms fuelling their outrage, which would reach its apex as Burnley got their noses in front with 17 minutes left to play and just moments after the Terriers were appealing strongly for a penalty.

Instead Ashley Barnes sent the visiting fans into pandemonium when he collected an Ashley Westwood pass and calmly passed the ball into the back of the net.

From then on frustrations turn to anger, some fans opting to leave with nine minutes to play and even their usually measured manager becoming increasingly animated on the touchline.

Alas the atmosphere faded and such was the quiet that Sean Dyche’s booming voice could be heard increasingly as the seats around the John Smith’s Stadium became vacant.

There would be one final roar of encouragement from the hosts as Robbie Brady was shown a straight red card for a late lunge on Kachunga. Burnley’s misery was compounded when five minutes of added time was announced over the tannoy system much to the delight of the hosts and the dismay of Dyche.

Burnley would hold on for a vital victory and leave their opponents confronting the very real possibility of playing in the Championship next campaign.

At the full time whistle, all the home support could do was offer a smattering of boos, the small collection of Burnley fans in the corner making the most noise once all was said and done.


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