Danny Ward hat-trick helps Huddersfield edge out Reading in seven-goal thriller



Posted Sunday, January 23, 2022 by PA

Danny Ward hat-trick helps Huddersfield edge out Reading in seven-goal thriller

Danny Ward scored a hat-trick as Huddersfield boosted their Championship play-off hopes with a hard-earned 4-3 victory at relegation-threatened Reading.

In a frenetic first half, with five goals in the opening 25 minutes, Reading led early on through Lucas Joao only for Huddersfield to reply with efforts from Danel Sinani and Ward.

George Puscas made it 2-2, Ward restored Town’s advantage, then Michael Morrison pounced just before the break to again level the scores.

Ward completed his treble, with his 10th goal of the season, eight minutes into the second half to seal the points as Town stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches, which includes a 2-1 win at Premier League Burnley in the FA Cup third round.

Huddersfield, who climbed into the top six with the win, were the first to threaten with Sinani seeing a shot blocked, but Reading went ahead in the fifth minute.

A superb break from Baba Rahman released Joao, who ran on to the pass before cleverly beating Town goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.

It was the Portuguese striker’s first goal of the season – on his first start since August after recovering from hip and shoulder problems.

Town equalised just four minutes later however, when Sinani’s well-struck shot took a cruel deflection past home goalkeeper Luke Southwood.

Huddersfield then went in front in the 15th minute as the Reading defence failed to clear and top scorer Ward slotted home.

Within seven minutes, though, Reading drew level.

John Swift found Puscas in acres of space and the Romania forward beat Nicholls with a precise cross-shot.

And the goals continued to flow in a frantic opening, with Town back in front in the 25th minute.

Sorba Thomas’ hanging free-kick from the left was caught by Southwood – only for him to fumble the ball from his grasp as he fell to the ground.

Ward coolly guided in goal number nine for the season, with home appeals that Southwood had been fouled falling on deaf ears.

Thereafter followed a relative period of calm – until Reading made it 3-3 on the stroke of half time.

Swift’s corner was nodded past Nicholls by home captain Morrison, with the aid of a deflection off Town defender Tom Lees.

In comparison, the second half started tamely but Ward was able to complete his hat-trick in the 53rd minute.

Reading’s defensive frailty was once again exposed, with Ward picking up a loose ball and thundering it past Southwood from 25 yards out.

In the aftermath, Marko Mitrovic, Reading’s assistant manager, was booked for protesting by referee Robert Jones.

Thomas could have made it 5-3, only to be denied by Southwood, but Huddersfield comfortably held on for victory despite late home pressure.

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