Huddersfield edge out Villa to keep pressure on Championship's top two
Tommy Smith ensured Huddersfield kept up the pressure on the Championship's top two with a 1-0 victory over resurgent Aston Villa.
Stand-in skipper Smith drilled home his fourth goal of the season as Huddersfield hit back after a morale-sapping defeat to leaders Newcastle on Saturday.
Villa were on the rise after three successive victories and boss Steve Bruce looked set to inflict more damage on his former club's hopes of automatic promotion.
Town, only beaten twice in the previous 16 league games, were far from their best but they hung in to secure a precious three points.
Right-back Smith struck the only goal in the second half from a corner routine straight off the training ground.
Huddersfield threatened early with Elias Kachunga getting on the end of a Smith cross. He forced Sam Johnstone into a point blank save, through Izzy Brown was ruled offside.
Johnstone's save seemed to inspire Villa and as Huddersfield's passing stuttered, the visitors gradually took control of the game.
Joel Coleman, making his first Championship start in place of the injured Danny Ward, pulled off a full-length stop from James Bree.
Jonathan Kodija was fouled just outside the box and Conor Hourihane swept the free-kick out to Jordan Amavi but Nathan Baker sliced his finish.
Villa should have gone ahead in the 26th minute when Hourihane was one-on-one with Coleman.
Amavi's cross was played in by Kodija but Hourihane blazed over from eight yards.
Villa could have broken the deadlock 10 minutes later when Albert Adomah opened up the Town defence, beating three defenders.
He set up Henri Lansbury for a half-volley which crashed against the bar.
In the second half Town resorted to long balls upfield to Collin Quaner, abandoning the on-the-floor style which had served them so well this season.
Despite not playing well Huddersfield dug in and got their reward in the 69th minute when Nahki Wells came on and immediately caused problems for Villa.
Quaner won the corner which led to the goal in the 69th minute. Aaron Mooy pulled the ball back to the unmarked Smith who burst forward past a defender and arrowed home a hard, low finish across Johnstone and into the far corner.
Huddersfield saw the game out but could have sealed it in the 90th minute when Wells tried an audacious long-range lob when he spotted Johnstone off his line.
The keeper back-pedalled and the ball landed on the roof of the net.