SUBSTITUTE Danny Ward scored a dramatic late winner for Huddersfield to complete a remarkable comeback in a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough on a misty night at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The Terriers dominated possession for large parts of the match, but were unable to break the deadlock before Scott McDonald drilled home a 78th-minute effort to hand Boro the lead against the run of play.
But Alan Lee came off the bench to score an equaliser from close-range eight minutes later, before Ward – back in the squad for the first time since suffering a metatarsal injury before Christmas – had the last word with a left-footed strike from 25 yards.
This fixture signalled the beginning of a two-match suspension for Terriers’ top goalscorer James Vaughan, who was replaced in the starting line-up by Lee Novak, while Norwood deputised for the injured Sean Scannell.
Kieron Dyer made way for Richard Smallwood in visiting manager Tony Mowbray’s only change.
Huddersfield were quick out of the blocks – Novak sending the ball narrowly wide of the right post from the edge of the penalty area after just 20 seconds.
Former Town striker McDonald had Boro’s first effort of the match as he fired a 25-yard strike wide of Alex Smithies’ left-hand post.
Boro looked a shadow of the team that beat league leaders Cardiff at the weekend as the hosts began to dominate possession and look the more threatening.
Huddersfield’s best chance of the opening 45 minutes came on the half-hour mark, as Oliver Norwood met a superb Dixon cross with his head, only to send the ball just wide of the left-hand post.
Ishmael Miller and Grant Leadbitter both mustered long-range efforts for the visitors, before Town’s Adam Clayton sent a low drive whistling past Steele’s left post from 25 yards.
Huddersfield were calling for a penalty on the stroke of half-time when Theo Robinson was caught by a high boot in the six-yard box, but the referee was unmoved and waved play on.
Mark Robins’ men carried their momentum into the second half as the home support urged their men to make the most of their dominance.
However, a mistake by Anthony Gerrard after 55 minutes allowed Middlesbrough to go on a rare attack, but McDonald’s resulting effort was blocked by Jack Hunt.
McDonald gave Boro the lead against the run of play in the 78th minute as he sent a left-footed effort into the centre of the goal to deny Smithies a clean sheet on his 23rd birthday.
However, Lee came off the bench to replace Norwood and appeared to have rescued a point for the hosts with an 86th-minute strike from close range.
But Huddersfield were not finished yet, as the returning Ward fired a 25-yard strike into the back of the net in injury time to seal a deserved three points for the Terriers.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Gerrard (Wallace 66), Dixon, Clayton, Gobern, Norwood (Lee 84), Danns, Novak, Robinson (Ward 78). Subs Not Used: Bennett, Arfield, Atkinson, Lynch. Goals: Lee 86, Ward 90.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Smallwood (Rhys Williams 59), McManus, Hines, Friend, Leadbitter, Bailey, McEachran (Ledesma 58), McDonald, Ameobi, Miller (Main 68). Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Carayol, Haroun, Emnes. Booked: Smallwood, Ledesma. Goals: McDonald 78.
Att: 12,705 Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).
Elsewhere in the Championship, Cardiff maintained their five-point lead at the top of the npower Championship despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Derby.
Conor Sammon opened the scoring for the Rams on 15 minutes, but Craig Noone struck an 82nd-minute equaliser.
Watford are now the Bluebirds’ nearest challengers after a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Michail Antonio put Wednesday ahead but two goals from Fernando Forestieri sealed the win.
Kevin Phillips rolled back the years with a hat-trick as Crystal Palace beat Hull City 4-2 at Selhurst Park.