A long-range Tom Iorpenda strike and a second half Ernaldo Krasniqi brace saw Ged Brannan and Andy Gray’s Accrington Stanley Under-23s side suffer their first Central League defeat of the season, despite a well-taken 89th-minute finish from Calvin Harper.
Midfielder Tommy Leigh was again named in the starting XI, with scholars Bradley Kelly and Jack Massey both handed their Under-23s debuts as part of seven changes from last week’s 4-1 victory over second-place Blackpool.
Stanley began the game on the front foot and the first real chance came on 15 minutes when Owen Devonport played the ball into the feet of Lewis Trickett, but the Northern Ireland youth international’s left-footed strike was dealt with well by Jacob Chapman.
The hosts continued to dominate possession as the first half progressed and Massey displayed good footwork on the half-hour mark to get away from Luke Daley inside the area, before firing over Chapman’s crossbar; with the Australian goalkeeper then denying a well-hit shot at goal from Leigh two minutes later.
However, Jon Worthington’s side opened the scoring against the run of play on 39 minutes when Iorpenda, who had received the ball from Sonny Whittingham on the half-way line, was allowed the time and space to manoeuvre his way towards goal and rifle a long-range effort past Max Clayton and into the top corner of the net.
Stanley had a great chance to equalise just four minutes later, but Iorpenda came to Huddersfield’s rescue at the other end of the field to first block a Bailey Sloane shot and then clear away Harper’s attempted rebound.
The Terriers continued to grow into the game after the break and they doubled their lead on 67 minutes when Krasniqi and Kian Harratt executed a one-two and the substitute slotted his effort inside Clayton’s far post, only three minutes after replacing Myles Bright.
Harratt could then have grabbed a third immediately from the restart after intercepting an Oliver Patrick pass, but the former Port Vale and Bradford City loanee curled his shot wide of the target.
The visitors did add a third goal three minutes from time and Krasniqi grabbed his second of the afternoon, as the Albanian fired an effort inside the left-hand post.
Harped then reduced the deficit to two by calmly slotting the ball past Chapman following a chipped assist from Leigh, with Sloane having won possession back well earlier in play.
Next up for Brannan and Gray’s side is a trip to Nantwich Town’s Swansway Stadium to face Wrexham on Wednesday 15th March, 1pm kick-off; as Preston North End’s 3-0 victory over Blackpool also ensures the Reds remain four points clear at the top of the table.
Clayton, Leigh, Moonan (C), Patrick, Sloane, Trickett (Procter 67’), Pickles, Poilly, Devonport (Harper 30’), Kelly and Massey (Lawton 42’).
Subs Not Used: Riva and Young.
Yellow Cards: Leigh.