Jacob Butterfield’s late deflected strike denied Huddersfield back to back victories in the Championship. The permutations of this result had a bigger impact as it also confirmed Brighton’s promotion to the Premier League.
Coming into the game, Town knew that three points would all but confirm a playoff spot and David Wagner’s side were off to the perfect start in the 9th minute.
Joe Lolley found Martin Cranie in space on the right, who drilled a cross into Collin Quaner’s path, with just a single touch, Quaner deftly found the bottom left corner of the net. Although there was a potential offside call, Quaner was given the benefit of the doubt as David Wagner’s men took the lead.
Almost instantly, Derby thought they were level after Matej Vydra’s header was turned in by Darren Bent, only to find out it had been rightfully chalked off for offside.
Since falling behind, Derby continued to be in the ascendency. The Rams were enjoying a large amount of possession in Town territory without really threatening Danny Ward’s goal. In the 36th minute, Bradley Johnson found himself in space on the edge of the Town box, but the former Norwich midfielder’s technique let him down and the chance was wasted.
In the closing stages of the half, Derby had three free kick opportunities all in similar positions outside the box due to rash unnecessary fouls as Town looked to get into halftime with a lead.
The first two free-kicks didn’t cause any problems for the Town back line but the third consecutive set piece was nearly crafted to perfection. Tom Ince’s ingenuity and quick thinking picked out Matej Vydra with the free kick which caught the Terriers defence off guard, but Vydra dragged his right-footed shot well wide of the target.
As Town went into half time with the lead, it appeared that David Wagner’s game plan of soaking up pressure and hitting Derby County on the counter was working perfectly.
However, as the second half began, it followed a similar pattern to the first as Derby continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, that nearly came when Ikechi Anya’s effort was tipped round the post by Danny Ward. With just twenty minutes remaining, Gary Rowett took drastic action as he opted to make a triple substitution bringing on Abdoul Camara, Johnny Russell and Jacob Butterfield.
The substitutions continued to stem the tide in Derby County’s favour and in the 75th minute, Michael Hefele’s foul on Johnny Russell presented Derby County with the ideal opportunity for an equaliser. However, Darren Bent’s strike sailed over the bar to the disgruntlement and the frustration of the Derby home crowd.
Two minutes from time, a miscued clearance by Michael Hefele presented ex-Town midfielder Jacob Butterfield the ball at the edge of the box. Butterfield seized the opportunity as his speculative shot deflected off substitute Jonathan Hogg and nestled in the bottom corner, out of Danny Ward’s reach.
The late equaliser confirmed Brighton’s promotion to the top flight and meant Huddersfield had to wait until at least next Saturday to all but confirm their spot in the top six.