By Ian Parker, PA
Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan was keen to keep a lid on expectations after his side dumped sorry Burnley out of the FA Cup with a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Turf Moor.
Matty Pearson headed home the winner four minutes from time after Josh Koroma had cancelled out Jay Rodriguez’s first-half strike to reward a fine second-half performance from the Championship side, who looked every bit a match for their struggling Premier League hosts.
Huddersfield are now unbeaten in their last seven, a run which has pushed them into the play-off places, and a win away to top-flight opposition will fuel the optimism of the travelling fans as they look for a promotion push in the second half of the campaign.
Asked if something special was brewing at the John Smith’s Stadium, Corberan said: “What is special is to be seven games without losing, but I cannot talk about the future.
To go seven games without losing means the players are playing really well. What I want to see is my team competing well, and the challenge is to keep playing well.
Having been unable to capitalise on some early pressure, Huddersfield had fallen behind to Rodriguez’s header in the 28th minute, the Burnley goal coming at a time when the hosts had managed to build momentum.
But the Terriers saw a Jon Russell header come back off the post in first-half stoppage time and stayed on top throughout the second half, with Burnley unable to test 19-year-old goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic, sent on in the 36th minute for his senior debut after an injury to Ryan Schofield.
With a sold-out away end roaring them on in an otherwise sparsely populated Turf Moor, Huddersfield looked far more confident than a Burnley side who have won just once since September.
“As soon as you are on the pitch, you are not thinking about them being a Premier League team or a Championship team,” Corberan added. “You are thinking about the situations and how you can solve them.
“What I saw was a team that was focused. We are taking the games game-by-game, whether it’s in the league or in the cup. Always my target is to see improvement in the team.”
While Huddersfield celebrated, Burnley fans greeted the final whistle with boos.
Mired in a relegation battle and depleted by a Covid outbreak which has sidelined manager Sean Dyche as well as six players, a Cup run might have been a luxury for Burnley but this was an opportunity for a much-needed win that slipped through their fingers.
“We need wins to bring a bit of a smile to the lads’ faces,” assistant manager Ian Woan said. “They feed off wins. That’s what football is all about. The win today was needed. We planned really diligently and put out the strongest 11 possible.”
Woan was left to lament those missed opportunities in the first half. Rodriguez has been Burnley’s cup specialist this campaign, scoring five goals in four outings, but that he could only take one of the several chances that came his way before the break proved costly.
Huddersfield drew level with 16 minutes left when Matt Lowton lost possession, allowing Koroma to finish from Sorba Thomas’ cross, and Pearson – who scored a winner at Turf Moor for Accrington in the League Cup in 2016 – did the rest.
“It’s very disappointing,” Woan said. “Huddersfield came out strong in the second half but the game should have been all over at half-time. If there had just been a little bit more belief it could have been all over.”