Huddersfield show some fight to avoid unwanted record at Southampton
A draw at Saints means the Terriers do not end season on a whimper.
Relegated Huddersfield avoided equalling the record for most defeats in a Premier League season by coming from behind to draw 1-1 at Southampton.
Nathan Redmond’s thunderous first-half strike left the rock bottom Terriers in danger of suffering a 29th top-flight loss to cap a miserable campaign.
But a mistake from Saints goalkeeper Angus Gunn allowed Alex Pritchard to equalise 10 minutes into the second period and earn Town their first point on the road in four months.
Jan Siewert’s side, whose return to the Sky Bet Championship was confirmed six weeks ago, could have been two goals down at that point as James Ward-Prowse rattled the woodwork from distance minutes earlier.
Huddersfield turned the St Mary’s away end luminous yellow by handing out free shirts to all travelling fans as a reward for their support during a challenging season.
Town won only three league games in 2018-19 and collected the most recent of their previous six away points in a goalless draw at Cardiff on January 12.
There was a party atmosphere among those from West Yorkshire but the Terriers’ generosity almost extended on to the pitch with 12 minutes played as Premier League debutant Joel Coleman made a mess of clearing Danny Ings’ through ball.
Goalkeeper Coleman, who spent part of the season on loan at League One Shrewsbury, raced out his area and hit the ball against team-mate Jon Gorenc Stankovic, leading to Shane Long lobbing narrowly off target from distance.
Southampton’s fans were frustrated by a lack of end product for most of the opening period.
Winger Redmond changed that two minutes before the break, cutting in from the left to rifle his ninth goal of the campaign into the top right corner from just outside the D and spark some life into a relatively drab contest.
A half-time appearance from former Southampton captain Francis Benali, who raised £1million for charity by completing five Ironman triathlons in a week, helped improve the positive atmosphere further.
And, when Ward-Prowse’s thumping 25-yard effort was tipped on to the crossbar by the fingertips of Coleman, it looked like the hosts would push on and seal a ninth victory since the December appointment of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
However, Huddersfield had other ideas and capitalised on Gunn’s error of judgement to level minutes later.
England Under-21 keeper Gunn dawdled on a pass from Ryan Bertrand, allowing the alert Pritchard to nick the ball and slot into the unguarded net for his first goal since November.
Saints, who secured their safety in their last home game a fortnight ago, had little response to being pegged back, although Ings perhaps should have done better with a free header which was blocked behind.
Slovenian Stankovic, who made that crucial intervention, could have earned a surprise win for the visitors but his header from Pritchard’s corner bounced into the turf and over.
After a slight delay due to a solitary pitch invader in the final minute, Saints substitute Charlie Austin curled the final opportunity of the match marginally wide in added time as the points were shared.