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Wells lays on four in Huddersfield rout

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Huddersfield Town returned to form in the most emphatic manner on Saturday with a 5-0 win in their Yorkshire derby match at home to struggling Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship, with Nahki Wells laying on all but the final goal.

The former Bradford City striker's scoring drought may have extended to seven matches, but he can take great solace in that his man-of-the-match performance was his most complete in a blue-and-white shirt since signing for a club-record £1.3 million in the January transfer window.

“I thought Nahki Wells was absolutely magnificent,” Mark Robins, the Huddersfield manager, said. “I was hoping he'd get a goal, but he created opportunities for others and was at the heart of everything we did today.”

After a nervy start at the John Smith's Stadium in which the visiting side could have easily taken the lead, but for goalkeeper Alex Smithies, Huddersfield assumed control midway through the first half. The recalled Keith Southern put the home side ahead in the 29th minute when he was picked out by Wells from a set-piece. Three minutes later, it was two through Danny Ward, who finished neatly after receiving a cutback from his strike partner.

Wells had two chances to send Huddersfield into the half-time break in an impregnable position, on each occasion with build-up play that had the crowd off their seats. For the first, in the 33rd minute, the Bermudian was unlucky to see Luke Steele make a fine save on the end of a brilliant run and turn past his marker, Then, three minutes before half-time, he picked the ball out of the air and went past his marker and the goalkeeper before lobbing the last man who was retreating to the vacated goal, only to see his effort just clear the crossbar.

Although disappointed not to add to his 17 goals this season, Wells was determined as the focal point of a changed 4-2-3-1 system that he figured in all that the home side did right in arguably their best performance of an erratic season.

“It was a great performance,” Wells said. “Unfortunately I didn't get a goal, but I helped the lads in other ways.”

The points were made safe within 15 minutes of the second half, with Barnsley's minds apparently elsewhere. Three minutes after the restart, Wells was found by an Oliver Norwood through-ball, committed the defence and then played in Adam Hammill. The winger's first shot was parried by Steele, but he reacted sharply to tap in the rebound for his third goal of the season.

Ten minutes later, Wells appeared set to score his first goal since January 18 in the 2-1 defeat away to Queens Park Rangers, but after he used his pace to get behind the Barnsley defence on the end of an Adam Clayton pass, the 23-year-old was brought down by Steele for a penalty.

The former Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper was fortunate to receive only a booking from David Coote, the referee, but he had no such luck with Clayton's spot-kick, which was struck firmly into the top corner.

Wells took the penalties at Bradford and initially grabbed the ball to end his barren run, which now stands at 574 minutes, but he relented after a little convincing that Huddersfield would stick with the designated penalty-taker.

Substitute Sean Scannell completed the scoring in the 86th minute with a drive from just outside the penalty area, upon which Wells was withdrawn to a standing ovation from the crowd of 14,236.

The relationship with the supporters was a far cry from seven days earlier, when there was almost mutiny over a limp performance in the 2-0 home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, which was also a derby match.

“There was a better atmosphere,” admitted Robins, who was made the scapegoat for the fans' abuse last week. “They sang their hearts out all game; I thought it was fantastic. It was a great atmosphere and I'm happy we gave them something to cheer about.”

Huddersfield moved back to thirteenth in the Championship, while Barnsley fell to the foot of the 24-team table, having, with the exception of the first half-hour, looked for all the world like a team preparing for life in League One.

Wells is brought down for the penalty that made it 4-0 for Huddersfield
Wells is the first man Ward goes to after the Bermudian laid Huddersfield's second goal on a plate for him

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Published March 01, 2014 at 4:08 pm (Updated March 03, 2014 at 1:18 am)

Wells lays on four in Huddersfield rout

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