County came from behind to secure an entertaining 2-3 win at Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon, as The Hatters’ unbeaten summer continued at pace in West Yorkshire.
Will Collar continued his fine pre-season form by opening the scoring with his third in three games, finishing off a flowing County move after just ten minutes.
Two strikes from Stockport-born winger Pat Jones soon had The Terriers in front before the break, with Paddy Madden levelling superbly in the second half and an excellent Ryan Rydel free-kick turning things decisively back in County’s favour.
Following Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers at Carrington, County started out on a sun-kissed afternoon at Canalside Sports Complex with a back three of Ash Palmer, Ryan Johnson and a trialist defender in front of goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.
Macauley Southam-Hales returned at right wing-back, whilst Myles Hippolyte started on the opposite flank.
Callum Camps featured for the first time for The Hatters, alongside Collar and youngster Cody Johnson in midfield, with Scott Quigley partnering Madden up top.
The visitors were on top throughout the early stages, with Southam-Hales and Madden both testing Terriers stopper Nicholas Bilokapic before Collar applied the simplest of finishes to a sweeping Southam-Hales cross.
Quigley headed wide of Bilokapic’s goal shortly after, before Wales-U21 winger Jones struck low finishes past Hinchliffe after escaping down the Huddersfield right twice in quick succession.
Irishman Madden lifted an attempted lob straight into the arms of Bilokapic as County sought parity, before Jones was denied a first-half hat-trick by a strong right hand from Hinchliffe.
HALF-TIME: Huddersfield Town 2-1 County (Jones, 23’ & 27’ – Collar, 11’)
The Hatters held off on making the majority of their changes until the hour mark, although Antoni Sarcevic did replace debutant Camps at the interval.
The home side opted for five changes at the same stage, with former County loanee Ben Jackson continuing on as the hosts’ captain on the day.
A lively Huddersfield side almost had their third early in the second half, with Myles Bright’s fizzing drive headed off the goalline by Ash Palmer.
At the other end Collar’s dogged pressing released Madden, with the County captain firing narrowly wide of the far post.
But Madden soon did have his first goal of the summer to level proceedings, looping a magnificent header over Bilokapic after a pinpoint Hippolyte cross from the left.
On the hour mark, boss Dave Challinor opted for nine further changes, with a trialist goalkeeper, Fraser Horsfall, Mark Kitching, Ryan Rydel, Ryan Croasdale, Connor Lemonheigh Evans, Elliot Newby, Ollie Crankshaw and Kyle Wootton joining the remaining trialist defender and Sarcevic.
Ethan Pye then replaced the trialist defender in Challinor’s final change ten minutes later, with both sides seeking a winner into the final twenty minutes – and County soon finding one in stunning fashion.
After a foul on Connor Lemonheigh Evans around 25 yards from goal, Ryan Rydel stepped up to whip an unbelievable free-kick into the very top corner of an utterly helpless Bilokapic’s goal.
Rydel tested Bilokapic again shortly after, with Newby tapping home the rebound only for the offside flag to deny the former Chorley winger.
Into the final ten, Kyle Wootton almost had his first in County colours as the former Notts County man collected Ollie Crankshaw’s low strike before firing over the crossbar.
Ernaldo Krasniqi then came agonisingly close to a Huddersfield leveller as the forward thundered a drive off the underside of the County crossbar in the final stages, but County held on for a second win in our opening three pre-season outings.
FULL-TIME: Huddersfield Town XI 2-3 County (Jones, 23’ & 27’ – Collar, 11’, Madden, 53’, Rydel, 73’)